Updated November 2021
Coming up with the idea of a goal is always the easy part.
Giving form and life to a goal is a totally different thing.
You probably already know that the best goals are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
But the tricky thing about goals—whether they’re SMART or not—is that they typically take longer to achieve than we originally thought they would.
Goals require perseverance
“Instant gratification” and “goals” are not words you typically find in the same sentence. The incompatibility between quick success and worthy goals has given rise to many, many expressions, quotes, and generally accepted truths that praise this incongruity, including If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
The most incredible accomplishments in human history all demanded dedication and consistent effort spread out over long periods of time. They’ve all required that their eventually successful originators get up, oftentimes after multiple failures, and find the will to keep going.
We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day—it was built every day. From empires to companies, goals are achieved brick by brick, step by step, task by task.
All this is to say that when you decide upon your goals, it’s important to understand that reaching them is likely to take a significant amount of time and effort. The more lofty the goal, the longer it will probably take to achieve it. Consequently, when you decide on a goal, and before you start the long process of reaching it, it’s a good idea to ask yourself not only how will the achievement but also the pursuit of that goal contribute to your general well-being. In other words, ask yourself . . .
How is this going to make me happy?
Tips to help you achieve your goals
You’ve heard the expression failing to plan is planning to fail, and it’s true. The tips that follow aren’t a full-blown plan (that will be specific to your goal), but they will help ensure that you have a plan that works and that you can follow through on.
1. Write out your goals. Use a pen for this, not a computer. Involving as many senses as possible will help you retain not just the memory of your goal, but the excitement of setting it in the first place.
2. Look at your goal every day. Post your written goal in a place (or multiple places) where you will see it every day. Seeing your goal in your handwriting will serve as a reminder of your desire and why you are making sacrifices and taking action. It can also be especially helpful to review your goal when your motivation isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.
3. Get granular. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and intimated by a goal that may seem out of reach. It’s a feeling that often stops people from taking a first step. Instead of taking a big-picture approach, break your large goal into smaller, more manageable tasks or projects. Think of these smaller pieces as mini goals, each with its own action item. List those action items and, suddenly, you have a checklist of the steps you need to achieve your goal.
4. Be obsessed. Obsession is what separates the entrepreneurs from the “wannapreneurs.” There is a proven link between crossing items off a to-do list and a spike in dopamine (the brain chemical associated with feelings of pleasure), and dopamine can be addictive. Become addicted to working through your list and use the good feelings to build momentum. Leverage that momentum to push you further towards your overarching goals.
Use the FREE yearly planner we’ve provided below to help get you started on the path toward achieving your goals.