“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
How often to you start a new year, or a new quarter, or a new month with big goals in your head that you want to achieve, but then it seems like you are never are actually achieving them? The thing about actually accomplishing your ambitions is you are going to have to deal with some discomfort along the way. It’s not fun. Humans love to seek pleasure and avoid pain at all costs. We would prefer to bypass these momentary discomforts along the path to reaching new heights by continuing to just dream about what could be. We would rather sit in the comfort of knowing that “we have the potential”, instead of risking failure on the way to fulfilling our goals. Does that sound familiar? If so, I have 8 steps below that will help you achieve any goal!
Step #1 – Set a Measurable + Specific Goal.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the S.M.A.R.T. Principle before. It talks about setting specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-focused goals. Basically, you want to know exactly what you want. But I’m going to switch up the “realistic” with “relevant” instead. Because here’s the thing about “realistic” goals…it’s not pushing you out of your comfort zone. And honestly, what is realistic to one person, may seem impossible to someone else. It will vary based on your current belief system. It ends up being a limitation because in order to achieve those big things that we keep avoiding due to discomfort, we must push towards those goals that seem like a stretch or even seem impossible. And if you follow my steps below, you will likely blow your own damn mind when you achieve them.
But your goal should be specific + measurable. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be rich” is not going to get your anywhere! Instead, saying something like, “I will lose 25 lbs by January 1st” or “I will earn $100k in the next 12-months” is a much better option. This gives you a more definitive goal that anyone would be able to confirm that you indeed succeeded.
Think of creating a goal like having a destination in the GPS…instead of mindlessly driving in hopes that you will eventually get to a really cool spot, have something specific figured out in advance. You will get there much faster and won’t waste precious time along the way.
Step #2 – Have a Strong Why.
This is where the relevant comes into play. A lot of entrepreneurs want to attain that magical $100k a year goal. If that’s your goal, what is the the why behind it? Is it because everyone else is doing it? Do you think you will be successful once you get there? Maybe for some, those reasons maybe strong enough, but I’d recommend that you dig deeper. Do you want to be able to put a down payment on a house and reaching this amount in a year will make that possible? Do you want to pay off your credit card debt + student loans within the next 2 years and this will allow that to happen? These are much stronger reasons that are going to help motivate you and push you towards your goal.
Have you ever seen where a person has been smoking their entire life and can’t seem to quit, but when they are told that they have lung cancer and need to stop smoking, they can drop it like a hot cake and never look back? It’s because the reason for quitting is compelling. Your reason MUST be compelling if you want to continue to move towards it.
Step #3 – Align your Self-Image with your Goal.
If you find yourself saying, “I’m not the kind of person who achieves this goal”. Guess what will happen? You likely not achieve your goal. You need to align yourself with the person that does, instead. Consider this person your “future self”. Who is she? What did she do to achieve these goals? How did she do it?
You have to gain the belief that you are Her (your future self) now, before you will ever find the how to become Her. Begin to search for evidence in your past + present that will strengthen the story that you are Her now. Your cognitive bias (or your subjective reality) will want to seek evidence + confirm your current negative beliefs about yourself to prove that you cannot reach the goal. But what if, instead, you sought the evidence that you can and that you have reached similar goals in the past? Begin to act as that person who has achieved your ultimate goal and notice what you begin doing. Be sure to also not act surprised when you do something that would be “out of your norm”. Think of it as your norm, and watch as you start to seek more evidence to prove that you are this person.
Step #4 – Think Outside the Box.
Now that you’ve aligned your new self-image, it’s time to figure out ways that you can take new action. You have to create new thoughts. Grab Take a grab a pen + paper (or electronic notepad) and I want you to list 50 things that someone in your position could do to achieve your goal. List.Every.Single.Thing.You.Could.Do.
I know you are going to want to just write a few ideas, but get really creative! Say you want to earn $100k in a year…yes, you can create offers to clients, but you could also create on online product that could create passive income. You could sell you clothes that you never wear. Sell your back-up supplies. Just keep brainstorming all possible ideas that could bring you that income. They don’t have to be good ideas, just ideas. This will help prevent judgement to shut down within your current limitations. Because what is likely to happen is you will think of some ideas that you may not have otherwise come up with.
Step #5 – Identify your Potential Obstacles.
So I know you are all excited and ready now to become a weight loss superstar or a 7-figure entrepreneur, but you need to dig up some dirt to figure out what it is that has stopped you from fully achieving your goal in the past. (Because if there were not obstacles, you’d already be there, right? haha).
Take some time and grab a pen + paper (or electronic notepad) and answer the questions below. And really dig deep with these. Push yourself to really think hard and of all the possible options.
What is between you and the goal?
Why is it hard?
What will you need help with?
Ex: I want to lose 25 lbs by January 1st.
– I love to eat carbs + sugary sweets.
– I don’t want to feel deprived.
– I will need help coming up with alternative options, meal planning + managing my brain with binges.
Step #6 – Identify your Strategies.
Now that you’ve listed all your barriers, you get to come up with strategies to overcome them. All obstacles can be turned into strategies to overcome them. You just have to take the time to think them through.
Ex: I want to lose 25 lbs by January 1st.
– I will handle my withdrawal from sugar by drinking more water, writing about it, and asking for support from my partner.
Step #7 – Schedule it on the Calendar
With your strategies in mind to overcome the obstacles between you and your goal, it’s time to create the action plan and get them on the calendar!
Create a list of action tasks, put them in order, determine how much time it will take, and then add to the calendar with time frames. When you put them on the calendar for a specific time + date, it forces you to face the reality of what you can actually get done. It keeps you accountable. Instead of having a list of action items where you are wondering how long it will take and which you should do first, this gets things done. It may seem like very tedious work, and you may want to just get started ASAP, but don’t skip this step! I liken it to getting in the car in a rush to reach a destination and not taking the time to put in the address in the GPS. The time you spend entering in the address in the GPS will save you a ton of time later of potentially getting lost.
Step #8 – Let Go of the Goal + Enjoy the Process.
Once you get started, you may find yourself so focused on the distant goal, that if you aren’t seeing linear progress along the way, or you aren’t getting there quick enough, you may want to give up. But you need to stop asking yourself if you are there yet, and just believe in the possibility of the goal. You aren’t always going to get immediate tangible results and that may cause you to want to give up. But that comes from a scarcity mindset (ie, that you will never achieve your goal). You need to switch it up to a growth mindset (ie, I will always have the option to achieve my goal). Remind yourself that you are farther along than you were yesterday. Praise yourself for the effort, but continue to keep that final destination in mind.
You have to think about your goal as if you have already achieved it (envision being your future self) and that you are just waiting for reality to reflect it. Many times, people will think that they will be happier once they get to their goal, but I promise you that you will feel the same there as you do here. Your feelings are a result of your thoughts, so you can create those thoughts now. When you can think, “it doesn’t get any better than this”, you can then truly enjoy the process and know that you will attain those goals that you’ve always dreamed about!