5 key ingredients to achieve your goals

Published on September 5, 2023

If you have a love-hate relationship with goals, then you’ve probably experienced this routine: 

- Set a goal

- Get super excited about it

- Do a bunch of stuff

- Wonder why you don’t see results right away

- Get discouraged

- Decide it isn’t working/you’re not made for it/the goal sucks/the world sucks

- Give up

I’ve experimented with goals for several years now.  Finally landed on a way of setting goals that works for me and keeps me motivated. And as I lived to tell the tale, here are the 5 ingredients that helped me achieve my goals:

1.  Set a concrete goal and a related winning goal

A concrete goal is something measurable like: make x amount of money, get x job, career pivot in x amount of time.

This is a goal that is only partially within your control. You can set my sights on it and do what needs to be done, but it’s not ALL down to you because other people or variables are involved,

A winning goal is related to the concrete goal but it’s more about changing something about yourself and how you are being.

An example might be: get comfortable using LinkedIn, practice writing every day, speak up in meetings more, make decisions quicker.

If you’re looking to do a career pivot, your concrete goal might be “get a new role in x industry”.

But the winning goal might be “practice telling people that I am looking for a career change”. This is often a barrier for many people who only want to share with the world when they’ve succeeded, rather than when they actually need more help, which is the process of pivoting to a new career.

2.  Give it enough time - and commit to that timeframe

I set quarterly and yearly goals because I want to give myself enough time to experiment, evaluate, and tweak. Most people stop too soon, because they don’t see results right away. Instead, make sure you allow enough time and that you stay committed to working on that goal for the duration you set.

3.  Create a clear list of actions

Unless you are clear on what you will do to achieve your goal, you will find yourself procrastinating because your mind will keep telling you that you don’t know how or what to do. Your list doesn’t have to be comprehensive. Start with a short list, all the things you think you need to do to get your goal. Write them down. Do them every day. Add/remove as you go through the process. But have a list and do it every day.

4.  Plan for negative emotions

I wrote about this in more detail in my previous post (Goal hack: plan for moments that suck).  In short, make a list of negative emotions you expect to come up while you work on your goals. And when you feel one of those emotions, let it be there. After all, you planned for it. No need to let it stop you.

5.  Problem solve ahead of time

A you create your plan, include this question:

What might get in the way?

Things that might come up are: motivation, money, time, family pressure, feeling negative, etc.

For each of these, consider the options available. Some may be better than others but it's worth listing out all of them. For instance, if you think money can become an issue, ask yourself: "what would I do if money became an issue?"

Possible answers could be: use savings, ask family, raise funds, remortgage, get a loan, use credit card, etc.

This is a very useful exercise to do when you're feeling neutral or still excited about your idea, because you are more inclined to problem-solve rather than react from fear, panic, worry, etc. 

So if the scenario does happen, simply look at your plan and the solutions you listed as options, and pick the one that works best in that situation.

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