Goal Setting: An Ultimate Guide to Setting Goals and Achieving Them
Did you know that there were only 5,000 millionaires in the US in the year 1900?
Did you also know that by the year 2,000, more than 5 million of Americans were millionaires?
New evidence suggests that within the next two decades, there will be at least 20 million millionaires.
My point is you should aim to be among these 20 million.
If you are consistent and you practice your goal setting systematically, you will move from poverty to prosperity, from frustration to fulfillment, from underachievement to success and satisfaction.
From my experience, it is better to have a plan, even if it is a bad one, than not have one at all. Also, there is no need to reinvent the wheel – stick to what works.
You must have heard, seen or even know men and women who started with nothing but went on to achieve great success just by following these goal setting principles. Hence, if you learn how others did what they did, you will also achieve success as well.
In this guide, you will discover ideas and strategies that can help you to achieve anything you ever want in life. By implementing these ideas, you can accomplish anything you can imagine without any limitation, except the ones you place on yourself.
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. Let’s get started…
Table of Contents
- Allow yourself to be successful
- What Are Your True Goals?
- What Is Your Main Specific Purpose?
- Develop An Action Plan
- Before Your Success – Conclusion
Allow yourself to be successful
I am yet to meet a successful person without goals. All successful people set goals and are focused enough on a daily basis till they achieve that goal. The master skill of your success is your ability to set goals.
When you set goals, your positive mind becomes unlocked. Hence, you generate ideas and the energy you need to achieve that goal. If you don’t set goals, you will be a wanderer in life – just following the trend. But when you set goals, you are focused because you now have a target to accomplish.
You may not realize it, but you have more natural potential than you need to achieve your goals. Regardless of what you have achieved so far, you can achieve more because you have the potential to achieve more. Here’s why you should never be afraid to start from where you are…”it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from; all that matters is where you’re going”.
More importantly, you can determine where you are going by yourself through the power of your thoughts. For example, every invention started out as a thought, a wish, a dream, a hope or an idea. One statement that summarizes all religions, philosophies, metaphysics, psychology, and success is…”Most times, you are a product of your thoughts”. What happens to you, in reality, is an expression of your thoughts.
When they were interviewed, most successful people attribute their success to thinking about what they want, and how they can get it consistently. But the reverse is the case with most unsuccessful people – they spend most times thinking about what they don’t want.
When you don’t have clear goals, you make little progress even when you have all you need to achieve a faster progress.
Your Goal Searching Ability
Let’s go through this simple exercise together: Imagine a homing pigeon is taken out of its roost and put in a cage with the cage covered with a blanket. Then, the cage is put in a box and the box in a closed truck cab. Now drive at least a thousand miles from your present location before releasing the homing pigeon into the air.
You will discover that the homing pigeon will not only fly up in the air, it will move around in a circular motion three times. Then, it will fly back to its roost located at the place where you took off without making any mistake.
Humans and the homing pigeons are the two creatures who have this unique way of processing information to achieve their goals. In addition to having this goal achieving ability, humans also possess the unique ability to achieve their goals using the power of a clarity.
When you clear idea of your goal, you start moving towards it without any mistake and it is also attracted to you. Thus, when the time and place are aligned, you will meet your goal. This unique ability to achieve your goal through the power of clarity makes it possible to achieve any goal you desire.
Your goal searching ability continues to work automatically to attract your goals towards you. Do you want to get home in the evening to watch the super bowl? Or Do you desire a wonderful life, full of health, happiness, and prosperity?
It is almost certain you will achieve it. Nature is not interested in the magnitude of your goals. Even when you set small goals, your goal searching ability starts working to help you achieve your goal. The same thing happens when you set large goals. Hence, it is up to you to decide the size, scope, and details of your goals.
Why You find it difficult to set goals
Here’s a mystery that I am yet to unravel myself: if we all have the ability to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realizable and time-bound, why is that a lot of people find it difficult to set one. Based on experience, here are 4 reasons why I believe people find it difficult to set goals.
You don’t realize its importance
For most people, they don’t have the basic understanding of setting goals, hence, they don’t realize its importance. If you grow up in a home where no one sets goals let alone seeks to achieve them, you won’t see the need to set goals as well.
The same is also true of your associations, if the group you associate with don’t discuss or value the importance of goals, you will also be like them. After all, you are the average of five people where you spend most of your time.
I suggest you perform a quick mental check and think about the number of your friends, associations, or family members who have clear goals. If peradventure, they do, are they committed to achieving such goals?
You have no guide on how to set goals
For a very few sets of individuals, they are unable to set goals because they don’t have the guidance they need on how they can set goals. Worse still, there are a lot of people who have wishes or dreams which they term as goals.
Example of such wishes or dreams are, “be happy”, “make a lot of money”, or “have a nice family life”.
Of course, we all have wishes and dreams, who does not wish to be happy, have a nice family life or make a lot of money? Absolutely nobody. But a goal is completely different from a wish – it is specific, measurable, achievable, and even time-bound.
You can effortlessly describe your goals to another person. Do you know that it is possible to have up to Ph.D. in any university, including top universities without being taught anything about goal setting?
It seems those in charge of drafting our school curriculum don’t realize why goal setting is very important. If you are like me and you didn’t have any idea about goal setting until you became an adult, then, you won’t realize its importance.
You are afraid of failing
The truth is nobody wants to fail. Failure is painful and distressing both emotionally and financially. We all have failed at one time or the other. While we resolve to learn from our experience to forge ahead, we allow these failures to ‘cage’ us and make us ‘play it safe’. Hence, we don’t maximize our potential to the fullest.
You are afraid of criticism
These are people that feel that by setting a goal and not achieving that goal, they will receive criticism or ridicule from their friends, associates and family. If you fall into this category, I have a simple solution for you – ensure that your goals are confidential. There is no need to tell anyone your goals. Let your results and achievements speak for you. If they don’t know about your goals, they won’t criticize or ridicule when you are unable to achieve such goal.
In his book, “what they don’t teach in Harvard business school”, Mark McCormack revealed a Harvard study which was conducted between 1979 and 1989. When the 1979 MBA graduates of Harvard were asked, “do you have a clear, written goal for your future and have you made plans to accomplish them?”
It was discovered that just 3% of them had written goals and made plans to achieve them, 13% had their goals in their head. But a whopping 84% had one goal – get out of school and enjoy the summer. In 1989, the 1979 graduates were interviewed, it was discovered that the 13% who has goals but which were not written were earning on average twice that of the 84% who only wanted to leave school and enjoy the summer in 1979.
However, it was not unsurprising that the 3% of them had written goals and made plans to achieve them now typically earn ten times the combined earnings of the remaining 97%. What made the difference between these graduates was the clarity of the goals when they were starting out.
Let me explain the importance of clarity with this illustration; Imagine you are on the outskirts of a large city and you need directions to a specific home or office within the city. But you don’t have a map of the city, a road sign along the way or even the description of your target is vague.
Now, do you think it will take you more effort, less effort or a lifetime to reach that home or office? The truth is that it might take you a whole lifetime to locate that office or home except if you are lucky. Unfortunately, most people are living their lives in this manner.
Most people are going through life without a map or any sort of guide. This is similar to having no goals and no plans. They are content with figuring things out when the need arises. In most cases, ten or twenty years down the line, most of them will remain broke, unhappy, dissatisfied and without any hope of making progress in their workplace, and marriage.
Oddly enough, they are not making any effort to make changes to their lives – they only keep wishing and dreaming of a better life. They forgot these golden words from Victor Frankl; “the greatest need of the human being is for a sense of meaning and purpose in life“.
Thus, with each step you take towards achieving your goals, you are boosting your self-belief that in the future, you can set and achieve bigger goals. More than any other time in history, people are more afraid of change and constantly worry about the future.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be part of them. When you set goals and have a measurable plan towards achieving that goal, you can determine the direction of change in your life. Just like victor frankly said, you add meaning and purpose to all that you do.
Three questions to ask when making a goal-setting decision are;
- “what are my goals?”
- “what’s my aim?”
- “what do I want to achieve?”
While the average person only uses 10% of his potential, new evidence from Stanford University research shows that most people only utilize just 2% of their mental potential with the remaining sitting there unused. The first step towards attaining any goal is the desire. For you to truly achieve your goal, your desire must be intense and constantly burning. The good news is that if you want anything and you are willing to make the effort without giving up, you will eventually achieve it.
When h.l. Hunt, one the great oil billionaires, was asked his “secret of success”. He said success requires just two things;
- “you must know exactly what you want”
- “you must be determined enough to pay the price to achieve it”. Then, “pay the price”.
The model for success
Life can be compared to a buffet or cafeteria rather than a restaurant. When you want to eat at a restaurant, you are served, you eat and you pay the bill. But, when you want to eat at a buffet or cafeteria, you have to serve yourself, pay the bill, then, enjoy your meal. Hence, in life, you have to pay the price before you can experience the success.
The answer is responsibility. You need to accept the fact that you are responsible for your past, present and future conditions. When you say the words “I am responsible”, you shouldn’t feel any form anger. Accepting responsibility is an act that wipes away any negative emotions.
The turning point in my life was when I discovered this affirmation, “I am responsible”. It is simple, powerful and can eliminate negative emotions instantly. Imagine being free from any negative emotions just by saying “I am responsible”! After saying those words, you feel relieved and it helps you to be in charge of your life.
Then, you can start the process of setting goals and achieving them. When you are free, mentally and emotionally, you have renewed enthusiasm to direct all your energy in a positive direction. Thus, progress is largely impossible without you taking complete personal responsibility. The reverse is also true – when you take complete personal responsibility, there are no limits to what you can set and achieve.
You have to take responsibility for the strategic planning of your personal life and career. This planning includes your overall management strategy, goal setting, establishing your measurable so that you can take action and get results. The quality and the quantity of work you produce and the results you get or the results you are expecting are all your responsibility.
Don’t expect someone else to do it for you. The real truth is that nobody is going to accept your responsibility for you. If you have read this far, you should know that your potential is limitless. Thus, if you want anything bad enough and you are determined to work hard at it, you will eventually achieve it. This is the first step of goal setting.
The second step is for you to take total responsibility for your life and all the consequences. You should neither blame others or give excuses for your failures. By keeping in mind these important steps, you can start to design the kind of future you want.
Your personal strategic planning should involve having a long-term goal for your life. This process begins with the practice of idealization. In this practice, you need to imagine what your life would be in the next 5 years assuming all conditions are almost perfect. (Note: there can be no perfect conditions)
One of the biggest obstacles to setting goals is “self-limiting” beliefs. Self-limiting beliefs are your beliefs that you can’t achieve a goal because you are (include any reason you may have here). Examples of such reasons are; intelligence, ability, talent, creativity, and personality. The truth is that these reasons are mere excuses.
When you have a self-limiting belief, you can’t use your potential and consequently, you can’t accomplish your goals no matter how little the goal may be.
The Nike! Slogan – just do it!
“Action orientation” is one of the major differences between high and low achievers. Most men and women who achieve great things are intensely focused on taking action. They are always in constant motion – they are either brainstorming for fresh ideas, or taking action on previous ideas.
However, low achievers and non-achievers are always full of ideas but they never implement any of the numerous ideas they have. Truly, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Take a personal inventory of your skill, knowledge, talent, education, and ability. Then, start developing of each them to the highest level. Remember: you are not limited in any way!
What do you really want
There are a lot of people who work hard at achieving a goal, but when they eventually achieve such goals, they do not derive any joy or satisfaction from achieving such goals. The main reason for this is that what you have accomplished is not suitable for your inner values. This shouldn’t happen to you.Clarification of your values is an act you need to perform in each area of your life.
After all, Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
A simple question you need to ask yourself is this: “what are my values in this aspect?” The happiest people on earth are those whose accomplishments are in sync with their inner values. The reverse is the case for the unhappiest people – what they’ve accomplished is out of sync with their values and beliefs.
What Are Your True Goals?
Your true goals are your objectives you intend to achieve. It starts with developing your visions and values into tasks that you can easily accomplish each day until you achieve the main goal
Are Your Goals Personal?
You need a burning desire to overcome the obstacles to achieving your great goals. Thus, you have to make your goals personal. These are goals that you’ve chosen by yourself and not ones chosen for you by someone else.
For your goal setting process to be brutally effective, you have to be perfectly selfish about the goals you truly want to accomplish. Though you can help other people (such as friends, families, colleagues) to set their goals, the first step is to start with yourself and continue to improve from there
The Most Important Question
Here is it: “what do I really want to accomplish with my life?” You can also rephrase this as: “if I can accomplish anything I want in life, what would it be?” This is a question you need to constantly answer each month and also each year.
It is a proven fact that you can’t hit a target you can’t see. You need to start with your vision, your values, and your ideas to determine your true goals.
In the beginning, your true goals will be very unreal to you. But you need to start making them real by developing an action plan to accomplish them.
What You Truly Want
When you want to determine your true goals, start with your general goals. Then, narrow them down to more specific and measurable goals.
Doubling Your Productivity
I challenge to take a critical look at any results you’ve ever accomplished. When you perform this critical examination, you will discover that 20% of your efforts account for 80% of your results. Th s, you need to identify this 20 % and do twice of them.
You have to constantly seek for the simplest and the most direct techniques to move from your present position to your next position. A simple and effective way to determine this technique is to perform a search for the technique with the lowest number of steps. But more importantly, take action – keep moving, get busy.
Make sure your techniques are time-bound. This way you give yourself a sense of urgency to accomplish your tasks. Until the best idea is implemented, it is utterly useless to the world. This is statement is more emphasized in the words of the poet who said. “the saddest words of mice and men are these: it might have been.”
What Is Your Main Specific Purpose?
This is the goal that is most important to you now. Typically, it is a goal that will lead to the accomplishment of other goals. Here are 6 major characteristics of this type of goal;
- It must be very personal to you. Your desire to achieve this goal must so much that when you imagine yourself achieving this goal, you are excited and very happy.
- Clarity and specificity. You should be able to describe this goal in words so simple that a child will clearly understand it.
- You should be able to measure and quantify this type of goal. For example, ” I earn $100,000 per year by (a specific date)” is more measurable and quantifiable than “make a lot of money.”
- Your main specific purpose has to be believable and achievable. It cannot be a white elephant project.
- Its probability of success should be reasonable, a 50:50 chance is a good start. If this is your first time of achieving a major goal, you need to make sure that its probability of success is at least 80% – you need to make it easy for you to achieve it. In the future, you can start setting bigger goals with less chance of success. But you must still be motivated enough to take the steps to achieve such big goals. When you are just starting to set goals, I strongly suggest you make the goals believable, achievable and with a great chance of success. This will give you the boost you need to set bigger goals and achieve them.
- Your main specific goal has to be in line with your other goals. For example, being financially successful and playing golf most of the time are two goals that are not in line with each other. They are like parallel lines that can never meet. You need to ensure that your main specific purpose, your minor goals, and your inner values must be congruent with one another.
You can determine your main specific purpose by asking this key question: “if you knew you could not fail, what is that one thing you would dare to dream?”
Let’s illustrate this with the following exercise:
Step 1. Write down a list of 10 goals you wish to achieve in the nearest future on a sheet of paper
Step 2. Write them in the present tense. This will make it real to you. Examples, ” I earn xxx dollars per year” or “I weigh xxx pounds.”
When you are through writing this list, go through them again and answer the following question: “which one of these goals can I accomplish now that would have the greatest positive impact on my life?”
If you can pick this goal, congratulations, you’ve just picked your main specific purpose. Your main specific purpose should have a major impact on your life and on accomplishing your other goals simultaneously. I suggest you write each goal on a separate sheet of paper. Also, write your actionable plan for achieving that goal. Then, start taking action immediately.
To make this goal easy for you to review on a constant basis, write it down on a 3×5 index card. Whether it is morning, noon or night, make sure you are constantly thinking about this goal and more importantly, continue to develop action plans to achieve it. Always ask yourself this question; “how can I accomplish this goal?”
If you can select your main specific purpose, decide to concentrate solely on achieving it and overcoming any hindrance along the way. Choose your main specific purpose today, write it down and develop an actionable plan that can help you to accomplish it.
According to the writer, Louise Hay, the feeling, “I am not good enough” is the major cause of our problems in life.
Dr. Alfred Adler said that the western man naturally inherited the feelings of “inferiority”. It usually starts from childhood and grows deeper as the man becomes an adult. Due to their erroneous belief and perhaps the way they were brought up, most people are of the belief that they have limited intelligence, talent, capability, creativity, or skill.
The real truth is that you have unlimited potential – one you can never exhaust in your entire lifetime. You are better and smarter than that person you think is smarter or better than you. That other person is only smarter or better in specific areas at different times.
Similarly, you are also better and smarter than that person in other specific areas and at different times. Even as you are now, you have within you the ability to perform like a genius or to be exceptional in at least one area of intelligence. Hence, you now have a responsibility of finding out you what makes you exceptional.
It is up to you discard any form of self-limiting beliefs you may have and embrace your talents and capabilities. You are destined to be great and you are made to be successful. You are yet to tap into all your competencies and capabilities. The ability to accomplish any goal is within you right now. But you need a strong desire to work long and hard until you achieve it.
In psychology and metaphysics, there is a law of reversibility that states that “you are more likely to act yourself into feeling a particular way than you are to feel yourself into acting.”
Let me explain what this law is trying to say: When you are just getting started, you may not have the feeling that you are going to succeed the way you want. Since you do not have a track record of successful achievements, your self-confidence will also be low. This will lead to doubts and fear that you may fail. You won’t have the feeling that you are good enough.
But if your attitude is that of the success, qualities, and talents you wish, your actions will create the feeling of success. Through the law of reversibility, you will start acting with an attitude of success. Do you desire to be among the top people in your area of expertise?
Then, start dressing like them. Educate yourself and make sure your work habits are just like them. Choose from these top people and make the person your role model. If you have access to him or can have access to him, ask him for advice on you can get ahead faster.
When they give you an advice, make sure you take action immediately. The moment you start walking, talking, dressing and behaving like these top people, your feelings and attitude will start becoming like theirs. Your attitude towards other people will be like the attitude of these top people towards other people.
When you adopt their work ethics, you will also start achieving their kind of results. Within a short period of time, you would have become a top person. Though the phrase “fake it till you make it!” may seem overused, I assure you it is still true.
You need to reprogram your subconscious mind for success and produce a vivid impression of the success in your memory through your words and actions.
Make It Real
Jack Welch who was CEO of General Electric for many years once said, “the “reality principle” is the most important quality of leadership.” he continued, “it is the ability to see the world as it really is, not as you wish it were.” Hence, he always starts all his meetings with the question, “what’s the reality?” when a goal or a problem is to be discussed.
Peter Drucker described the “reality principle” as “intellectual honesty”. It is dealing with situations using current facts before making an attempt to resolve the situation or a making a decision about the situation. In one of his written works, Abraham Maslow said, “the first quality of the self-actualizing person is complete honesty and objectivity.”
This is what you should also do. For you to become the best version of yourself and achieve your true potential, you need to be totally honest with yourself about your starting point. Sit down and perform a thorough analysis of yourself to determine your current position in each aspect of your life.
In his best-selling business book, “good to great”, Jim Collins said that if you are to identify and remove hindrances which are keeping you from moving forward, you must ask “brutal questions” of yourself and your business. Do you know those brutal questions you need to ask yourself before you start taking the steps to achieve your goals?
Here are 4 of such questions;
- Where are you now? This will make it possible for to fully understand your starting point especially, your current financial position.
- What you describe as your ideal future? This question will help you to imagine what your future would look like when you have accomplished your goals.
- How did you arrive at your current situation? What steps did you take? Were those steps right or wrong? If right, what are they? List them. If wrong, what are they? List them. What would you consider as your biggest successes so far? How did you achieve these big successes? What were your failures and why did you categorize them as failures? Why did you fail?
- What are you currently doing to turn around your current situation?
When you take the time to answer each of these questions in all honesty before you develop an actionable plan towards achieving your goal, you will save months and perhaps years on the path towards achieving your goal.
Most times, you will realize that you need to reevaluate your goals because you now have a better grasp of your situation and the future you want to create for yourself. When you get started, the speed at which you will achieve your goals will be improved drastically.
You have awesome mental powers which you are yet to fully utilize. By setting goals, you make a more effective use of your thinking powers than the average person. Also, by developing a detailed, actionable plan to achieve your goals, you can reach your success within a shorter period than when you don’t have a goal or a plan to achieve your goals.
The “head office” of your life is your conscious mind. It identifies, analyzes, and compares information it receives from your environment to determine the actions that needs to be taken. However, the great powers lie in your subconscious mind. Through it, you can achieve more than you’ve ever done before. It is a proven fact that over 90% of your mental powers lies within your subconscious mind.
Hence, for you to be motivated, stimulated, and driven to achieve your goals, you must learn how to tap into these powers. You will get the best out of your subconscious mind when you have clear goals, specific tasks, deliberate measures and firm deadlines. Once your subconscious mind can receive instructions on a clear goal, a specific task, a deliberate measure and a firm deadline, it will perform more effectively and help you to achieve your goal in less time.
Also, it is important for to evaluate your progress daily and hourly, you can use the achievement of a milestone for this purpose. By imposing a deadline on yourself, you are “forcing” your subconscious mind to accomplish a task towards the attainment of a goal.
Otherwise, you will start procrastinating and may never accomplish the task again. Regardless of the goals you want to achieve, list the necessary steps you need to take to achieve the goal. For each step, make sure there is a deadline. Then, work daily to complete each step before the deadline and measure your progress with respect to the deadline for the main goal.
When there are genuine reasons to make amendments, do so but don’t allow it to slow you down. Since you can’t hit a target you can’t see, you will achieve your goals faster when the goal is clear, measurable and time-bound. If your goal is without a deadline, you won’t be committed to it – you will lack the ‘drive’ to complete it.
It is similar to having a bullet in the cartridge but without a powder, you will just be ‘firing blanks’ when you shoot. One common question I get so often is this: “If my goal is time-bound but am unable to achieve it within that period, what happens?”
The answer is simple: adjust the deadline, but don’t make this a common theme where you keep ‘pushing’ your deadline. The truth is deadlines are meant to prevent you from procrastinating by ‘forcing’ you to accomplish a task.
Hence, there will be times when you will miss your deadlines. But with time and experience, you will become better at setting deadlines and accomplishing your goals within such deadlines.
How to Eat An Elephant
Ever heard the saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. This can also be applied to achieving a goal regardless of the size of the goal. You need to take one step at a time and milestone after another.
For example, if you have a 5-year goal, break it down into sub-goals which you can accomplish yearly. Then, break this yearly sub-goals into another set of goals you have to accomplish monthly, weekly, daily and where possible, hourly. This technique works with accomplishing any type of goal – finance, business, relationship or health.
Assuming you want to increase your income; you already know that income is a product of added value, right? Then, your next step is to seek for areas where you can add more value to your yourself such as learning new skills. This would add more value to your and consequently, increase your earnings. Search each aspect of your life and pay great attention to your actions.
Now choose a number that defines your success in that aspect of your life. Then, focus all your efforts on achieving that number. Either consciously or unconsciously, you perform better in any area where you focus all your efforts.
Examples, if you want to…
- Improve your health, determine the number of calories you need to take per day and focus on consuming it each day. Repeat the same thing with the minimum amount of exercise you need to perform each day
- Become financially successful, focus on the additional amount of money you need to earn per hour or the amount of money you need to save per month
- Make more sales, focus on increasing the number of sales calls you make per day, or the size of the sales you make per month
- Improve your relationship, focus on increasing the time you spend with your partner each day.
Here are two famous and useful sayings about setting measurable goals;
- “What gets measured gets done”
- “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”
Once you are able to set measurable goals, it will be possible for you to track your performance. Hence, you can achieve your goals within your specified deadline. It has been proven that most people give up on achieving their goals before they even make the first try.
Most times, the become overwhelmed with the obstacles, difficulties, problems, and roadblocks they may experience immediately after they’ve decided to accomplish a goal they’ve never accomplished before. But the truth is that for you to be successful, you have to be willing to fail more often than the average person.
Almost all the successful people you know, tried more than once. When they fell down, they picked themselves and keep trying until they made a breakthrough. In contrast, unsuccessful people try a few times, most even do so halfheartedly, and when they don’t succeed. They quickly quit and continue with their previous lifestyle.
You should know that before you achieve any goal, you may have to fail and fall short many times. Failures and temporary defeats are a part of the price you have to pay on your rod to success. Here are 3 questions you need to ask yourself;
- “Why am I not there already?”
- “What is holding me back?”
- “Why am I yet to achieve my goal?”
By answering these questions, you should be able to identify the obstacles that is preventing you from achieving your goal. The next step is for you to write down these obstacles.
Theory of constraints as described by Elihu Goldratt in his book the goal is one the most important breakthroughs in thinking over the last few decades. The theory states that there is a constraint (a limiting factor) that stands between you and the goal you want to accomplish.
This constraint determines the speed at which you will achieve your goal. Imagine you are driving down the freeway but due to a traffic construction, all cars are restricted to a single lane. This constriction is a constraint and it will determine the speed of your journey.
Similarly, before you achieve any major goal, you have to pass through one constraint or the other. Hence, you need to identify each constraint and focus all your energy on removing each constraint. The removal of each constraint is one major step to achieving your goal.
The 80/20 rule is also applicable to constraints, 80% of your constraints are within you, the other 20% are controlled by other persons and the situations surrounding you. Put simply, you are a major determinant of the speed at which you will achieve any of your goals.
Fear and doubt are the two major obstacles to any success or achievement. It is your fear that is preventing you from trying at all. Your fear can be a failure, poverty, loss, embarrassment or perhaps rejection. Hence, this is one major reason why the average person gives up before even trying to achieve a goal. Closely followed by fear is self-doubt or the ‘I’m not good enough’ feeling.
You doubt your abilities, you automatically assume that there are others who are smarter, better and more competent than you. Even though ou have a great desire to achieve your goals, you doubt you can achieve them due to the various ‘imagined’ challenges.
In a 25-year study conducted by Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, he termed this phenomenon “learned helplessness.” After interviewing and studying thousands of people, Seligman concluded that over 80% of the population is suffering from learned helplessness, and the degree is high in a few individuals.
If you feel you are incapable of achieving any type of goal or feel incapable of improving your life, then, you are suffering from learned helplessness. By saying the words “I can’t”, you are manifesting the most common trait of learned helplessness.
If you suffer from learned helplessness, you will often find yourself responding with the words – I can’t whenever you are offered an opportunity, a possibility or a new goal. You start to justify yourself by giving various reasons such as “I can’t move ahead in my career”, “I can’t get a better job, “I can’t take time off to study”, “I can’t save money”, “I can’t lose weight”, “I can’t start my own business”, “I can’t start a second income business”, “I can’t change or improve my relationship”, and “I can’t get my time under control.”
Regardless of the situation, a person suffering from learned helplessness always has an excuse for rejecting an opportunity, a possibility or the chance to achieve a goal. The research further disclosed that destructive criticism in childhood, negative experiences while growing up and failure experiences as an adult are three main reasons why people suffer from learned helplessness.
By setting small goals, making plans and implementing your plans on a daily basis, you can get over the tendency to sell yourself short. Gradually, you start developing greater courage and confidence from accomplishing each of these small goals. This will weaken your doubts and fears with time.
Once you have a track record of successes, you become unstoppable. Complacency is another mental obstacle you need to overcome. If you become complacent, you will be reluctant to make any changes to current situation either in your job, relationship, or responsibility.
Hence, you have no ambition, desire, or the determination to accomplish anything else. It is almost impossible to help anyone who not only complacent but is also suffering from learned helplessness – don’t be that person. According to Les Brown, a motivational speaker, “to achieve something that you have never achieved before, you must become someone that you have never been before.”
Three Plus One
If you want to master any skill, your best option is a three plus one formula. It is very simple but brutally effective. As you can infer from the name it consists of 4 steps:
- Read about the skill on a daily basis, spending a minimum of 15 minutes. You improve your knowledge by adding more to it. As you read and learn, you develop more confidence in your ability.
- Listen to audio trainings about the skill. I suggest educational audio programs and where possible, listen to this audio programs in your car. It is a proven fact that the average period a driver spends in his car during the day is between 500 to 1000 hours. Why not take advantage of this period to learn? You might be the best in your field just because you were listening to audio training programs instead of music in your car.
- Attend summits and workshops about the skill or topic. By attending at least one summit or workshop per day on a subject, your life can be changed completely.
- Take action very quickly. Whenever you hear a good idea, implement it right away. When you take action, you learn more and you add more value to yourself than having hundred ideas without implementing any of them.
Develop An Action Plan
The master skill to success is to set goals and make plans to achieve such goals. Without mastering the skill of goal setting and developing action plans, you may not be able to fully utilize your potential or achieve any goal in life. All major accomplishments involve a sequence of steps.
Through planning, your major definite purpose is turned into a multi-task project with step-by-step details, clear deadlines and sub-deadlines.The good news is that with practice, you can learn and master this skill. The more you practice, the better you become. Hence, you will be one the most effective and influential people in your business.
The Foundation For All Achievements
I am yet to see a successful person without a written plan. All the great achievements that are ever known to man, including the pyramid building, and the industrial revolution of the modern age, were accomplished through the design a detailed plan before any action was taken.
It is a proven fact that for every minute you spend in planning, you save 10 minutes in execution.This saves you time, money, energy and you are able to accomplish your goals faster. Hence, the saying, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
7 Major Reasons Why You Should Plan
- With planning, you are forced to organize your thoughts, and identify any problem that may prevent you from being successful.
- When you organize your thoughts, you develop a plan of action towards accomplishing your goals. This saves you time, money and energy especially in managing people.
- When you have a plan, you can thoroughly discuss it and evaluate it. This allows you to know the flaws and errors in the plan. These flaws and errors may be a major hindrance in achieving your goals on the long run. One simple to start your analysis is by asking the “what if” question. For example, “what are the possible issues if a specific action is taken rather than an alternative one?
- Apart from errors in the plan, the plan might also be weak. Thus, analyzing the plan should reveal the weakness of the plan and adequately make the correction. It is possible for you to identify a weakness that could have led to the failure of the plan.
- Proper planning can help you to identify opportunities of strengths and potential. Thus, improving your chances of success. Most times, if you don’t go through this process, you may not be aware that there are strengths or opportunities within a situation.
- When you plan, you focus your time, energy and resources on the most important objectives that will lead to success. But when your focus lack clarity, your efforts are scattered and you will rarely accomplish anything worthwhile.
- With a proper plan, you avoid hours, weeks, or even months of confusion, mistakes and losses (this can be in terms of money and energy). Put simply, a plan is a list of actions in a step-by-step format to accomplish a specific task, goal, or objective.
The first step to planning is to list all that is required for you to achieve your goal on a sheet of paper. Any item you recall an additional requirement, include it in the list. You can keep updating this list as long as you have new information. This list becomes your guide to accomplishing your goal. The next step is for you to organize your list in terms of priority and sequence.
When you want to organize your list in terms of priority, you need to identify tasks or activities in order of importance from the most important to the least importance. But when you are ordering your list in terms of sequence, you are determining which activity has to be performed before another activity.
In sequencing, a successive task cannot be accomplished before the previous one is accomplished. There are situations where a constraint to the accomplishment of a task can botch up the whole process.
Think On Paper
Always organize your thoughts on a sheet of paper. There can be sub-lists for every list. Until you’re comfortable with your plan, keep updating and revising it. Any skill can be learned and planning being a skill is not an exception.
As you continue to think, plan, organize and take steps towards achieving your goal, with time, you will eventually be in the top 10% of your field.
For you to achieve your goal and maximize your potential, you have to learn how to control your time. New evidence from psychologists suggests that “sense of control” is vital to happiness, confidence, power and personal well-being. You can only achieve a sense of control by practicing excellent time management skills. Just like planning, time management is also a skill that can be learned.
Have you ever been disorganized, tend to procrastinate or got caught up low-value activities? There is room for you to make amendments. Once you learn how others have turned frustration to focus and confusion to clarity, you too can become effective, efficient and productive. When you practice repeatedly, you will eventually be a very good result-oriented person.
Thus, there are three main steps to success;
- Set clear goals
- Develop an action plan
- Implement your plan on a daily basis till you achieve the success you desire
Your current life was determined by the choices and decisions you made in times past. Hence, you have to make new choices and decisions to improve your life and align your choices with your inner values and desires. The first step to time management is to determine your goals. Then, organize these goals in terms of priority and value.
At a point in time, you need to be absolutely clear on the most important goal you need to accomplish. Your goal could be business at one time, and later be family or relationship at another time. Your goal may also change to health at another point in time.
But it is very important that you focus on achieving a goal before attempting to achieve another one. Your list, organized in order of priority is the basic tool you need to manage your time. You can also use this tool for personal management.
The truth is you can only manage yourself, you can’t manage time itself. If you want to properly manage your time, you must have self-control, self-mastery, and self-discipline. With time management, you have to always make the best choice, the best decision and take action on your decisions so that your life and work can be vastly improved.
As you plan your life, make sure it includes a list of your short-term goals, medium-term goals, and your long-term goals. Also, make sure each month is planned in advance including a list of goals or sub-goals you intend to achieve in that month. For goals that can properly be achieve through a series of steps, include the sub-steps to the main steps in your plans. Then, organize the list in order of priority and sequence.
Double The Speed At Which You Attain A Goal
Though there has been a lot of talk about “positive thinking”. Though it is important, positive thinking is not enough. If you don’t direct and control your positive thoughts, it can quickly become positive wishes and dreams. You can make positive thinking more than having a positive outlook on life or just as an energy for inspiration and higher fulfillment of purpose.
Positive thinking must be turned into “positive knowing” to make it effective in helping you to attain your goals. You must have the belief that you will be successful. Also, you must be determined and convinced of your success to the extent that you feel unstoppable. When you ‘feed’ your subconscious mind with this strong belief in success, you will achieve your goals more quickly.
A very important mental law states that. “whatever is impressed is expressed.” This can also be rephrased thus; “you will eventually express what you deeply impress on your subconscious mind.” In mental programming, you have to learn how to impress your goals into your subconscious mind where they can acquire a power of their own. Here is how to do that:
- Write down your goals for each day.
- Get a handy spiral notebook – this notebook must always be with you.
- On a daily basis, write in this notebook a list of your top 10-15 goals.
- Repeat this each day without referring to the previous day’s list.
You will start to notice some important changes as you do this. On the first day, you will discover that you will have a deep reflection before you create this list. I know people who have never made a list of their top 10 goals.
The second day will be easier than the first. But there is going to be hardly any change either in description or priority to your 10-15 goals. In rare cases, some goals will appear on one day, but won’t appear on another day’s list. It is either you’ve forgotten them or they no longer appear as important.
However, don’t be surprised if they reappear at a later date. Your definitions will be clearer and sharper for each of those days.With time, you will discover that there is no change in the description of your goals every day.
But it is possible that there will be a change in your order of priority. This happens because your life is not stagnant. After at least 30 days, you will discover that you are writing and rewriting the same goals each day. This exercise is a test. It aims to determine how badly you want those goals.
When you write down a goal in one day but didn’t write it on the remaining days, it is either you forgot, that goal is as important as you think, or you lack the conviction to achieve such goal. But as you practice the writing and rewriting of your goals for each day, you will achieve clarity about those goals and will be more convinced that you can achieve such goals.
Take At Least One Step Per Day
Over the years, there have many studies into the reasons why some people achieve more than others. In an effort to determine the common denominator of success, the study included an interview of thousands of salespeople, staff, and managers.
The common denominator was “action orientation.” Those who achieve success take immense action. They make their moves very fast and their hands are always full. They also forge new paths and keep trying even in the face of surmounting difficulties.
They wake up earlier than the average person and go home later than the average person. In contrast, those who are not successful, are often slow in taking action and are the first to quit when they are faced with any sort of challenge.
They are more concerned about taking coffee breaks. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “the value of your contribution is directly proportional to the amount of compensation you will receive in life.”
Thus, you have to increase the quality and quantity of your results for you to increase your rewards. Similarly, you have to put more in to get more out. There are no exceptions to this.
Napoleon Hill opined that the major trait of successful men and women, most of whom started with nothing, was that they were willing to “go the extra mile” early in life. They believed the old saying, “there are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
The Momentum Principle for Success
This principle simply states that for you to start moving, a considerable amount of energy will be required. But once you get going, you will require less energy to keep yourself moving. Just like any other factor, this momentum principle provides a sufficient explanation of success.
Successful people are always busy – they wake up early, get started and keep going till late in the night. They are constantly working and always in motion like a moving target. Hence, I strongly suggest you apply this principle to your life.
Immediately you get started, don’t stop – keep going. A time management specialist, Allan Lakein said, “fast tempo is vital to success.”
If you want to achieve more, choose the most important task and start it with a speedy action. This is the main secret of successful people and top-level achievers.
Before Your Success – Conclusion
Every great success you achieve is an indication that you’ve overcome one challenge or another. The critical determinant of your success is your ability to make a decision on what you want. Then, taking action steps and holding on in the midst of challenges and difficulties until you accomplish your goals.
On the other side of persistence is courage. It is highly likely that the greatest challenge you will face in your life is your ability to overcome fear and develop a courageous habit. When you have these two, you have endless possibilities.
Imagine you were not afraid of anything in the whole world, what would you want, or accomplish? The truth is risk takers are the owners of the future.
If you are seeking for security, you will have less of it – that’s just life for you.
However, when you seek opportunities, you will not only achieve it, you will also get security.
What you have learned in this guide is a complete, elaborate and systematic plan for setting and achieving goals.
If you put to practice what you’ve learned in this guide, I assure you that within the next few months and years you will accomplish more than most people would accomplish in their lifetime.
For you to achieve a lifelong success, you need to embrace a habit of taking action. Take action on your plans, goals, insights and ideas. When you keep trying despite falling short, you will eventually become victorious. The more attempts you make, the higher your chances of accomplishing your goals.
All Goal Setting Articles
This is a complete list of articles I have written on goal setting. Enjoy!
Proven Steps to Set Goals like Napoleon Hill
5 Most Common Mistakes While Setting Goals
6 Strategies to Achieve Goals Quickly
How to stick to your goals when the obstacles seem impossible to overcome
Helpful Tips on Setting Goals and Achieving Them
Five Scientifically Proven Ways To Unleash Your Limitless Potential
Press the Reset Button on Your Goals
Nine Ways to Get Things Done and be more Productive
How to Set Goals That Are Achievable in (2018)