I’ve read a lot of books about achieving your goals and dreams, from classics like The Magic of Thinking Big to recent releases like Freelancing to Freedom. Reading is one of my favorite ways to be mentored by people who inspire me and those I wish to emulate. As one of my mentors Jim Rohn said, “success leaves clues.” What better way is there for you to get access to people you normally wouldn’t have access to? It’s an opportunity to get into the minds of others, some of whom are no longer with us, but who were kind enough to leave their best advice in print.
Reading others’ stories feeds your mind and strengthens your body and spirit. It can help to reduce fear and set you on course. However, it’s also known to give some information overload. It’s like you’ve gotten a crash course in how to achieve success in life and how to avoid the pitfalls. Yet, sometimes, the amount of dos and don’ts are enough to make you wonder if you too can truly achieve what you want. At times like this, you have to remind yourself that you’re free to pick and choose. It’s important that you distill the information, taking the pieces that you’re capable of utilizing right now, and setting aside everything else, perhaps for later use along the journey.
Despite all the information out there, I’ve managed to identify five resounding principles on the subject of achievement. These are some of the steps I’ve taken, in the hopes of accomplishing what I desire, including not feeling like my hair is on fire. I hope these steps are helpful to somebody.
1. Set your specific and measurable goal
No surprises here! You can’t achieve a goal if you don’t have one. To quote another one of my mentors, Zig Ziglar, “if you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.”
Goals reflect our most important desires and aspirations, our future plans and our motivations. For most people, these usually revolve around our health, wealth, relationships and our personal development. Pick goals that truly resonate with you, goals that speak to your future self. Don’t get overwhelmed by how big the goal appears to be. Don’t worry about how you’re going to achieve it. The how will come later. For now, all you have to do is determine what it is you truly want.
2. Figure out your why
We touched on the Why in a previous post. Its importance cannot be overstressed. You probably expected the second step to speak to the how, however, how is not as important as why.
Martin Luther King said “there is no deficit in human resources, the deficit is in human will.” Every goal you set must have a reason behind it, one that will propel you to move forward. You should be highly motivated by a big goal. Your Why is your motivating factor. It is a strong force that serves to remind you that failure is not an option. Any goal in life has bumps in the road. Your Why is the thing that will keep you going when all you may want to do is quit. Keep it at the forefront of your mind. It will keep you on the path to your destination. If you can’t answer the question of why, you’re less likely to stick with something for the long-term.
3. Take Action
You’ve set your goal. You have an acute Why behind it. Now it’s time to take action, or massive action as Tony Robbins would say.
The first action you take needs to be immediate. No procrastinating, otherwise you’ll never take the first step. If your goal is to get in better physical shape, go take a 30 minute walk today, if not right now. If your goal is to be debt free, the first step might be to figure out what you owe and to whom. You’re probably feeling energized from having a goal and a why and the key here is to not waste the momentum. If there is something you can start doing immediately, do it.
The second action is where the how comes into play. This is where you come up with a plan. The thought of doing this might give you a little anxiety. Not to worry, simplicity is key. While your goal may seem huge, it’s best to chop it up into bite size pieces. Don’t try to do everything at once. Start with one thing, and then the next, and then the next. If you can’t think of all the steps, that’s not a problem. As you start moving, new pathways will appear. Doors will open up. Your daily practice is to not be perfect, but to be better today than you were yesterday. You’re building new muscle. Start with light weights and then move up to heavier weights as you get stronger. Just being 1% percent better each day compounds and increases the odds of success. For more on this, read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
The third action step is to get around people with the same goals or those who have already achieved your goal. To quote Jim Rohn again, “you are the average of the five people you hang around with.” Associate with people who will help you, keep you on track and build you up. In addition, seek professional advice from the right people. Model the behavior of the people you want to be like. If you want to learn how to bake bread, don’t ask the butcher.
4. Track your progress
You won’t know how far you’ve come unless you know where you’ve been. Keeping track is the best way to know how you’re doing. When you’re in the thick of things, you may not feel like you’re making any progress so this is where tracking comes in handy. In addition to seeing the impact you’re having and how well you’re progressing, you’ll be able to identify any logjams and other factors that may need to be eliminated. As Peter Drucker said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
Another way to help with tracking your progress, and keeping you on track in general, would be to get some accountability partners or join a mastermind group.
5. Connect to your internal locus of control
I believe it was Stephen Covey who popularized the concept of having an internal locus of control in his book The 7 habits of Highly Effective People. Essentially, this means that you must have a belief in yourself and in the fact that you are responsible for your own success. This, in all honesty, can be the hardest step. Be wary of blaming outside factors and stand guard against the limiting beliefs that we all set for ourselves. Try to have a positive mindset. As hard as it may be, believe that your strong and steady input will get you the desired output. Remember to also be flexible when working towards your goals. Don’t give up when the unexpected happens. The right mindset will give you a headstart on the journey to achieving your goals. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
What are your key steps to achieving your goals?