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Published on April 7, 2020

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

The challenge most people have with setting goals is figuring out how to achieve them. Many goals end up abandoned because they become a burden rather than a source of inspiration. When you don’t have a goals strategy, achieving your goals will only be a mirage. In this article, you will find insight into why you need a strategy for your goals and examples of what you should include in your goals strategy.

What Is a Goals Strategy?

A goals strategy is an approach you take to achieve your set goals.[1] It is a plan of action and a set of tactics you deploy to ensure that you accomplish the things you set out to do.

Why You Should Have a Goals Strategy

A goal being pursued without an accompanying strategy will ultimately lead to abandonment or frustration. This is because there are internal and external forces that can work against your goal. Your strategy is meant to help you confront these unforeseen circumstances.

What Your Goals Strategy Should Include

Your strategy should consist of primary plans, contingency plans, tactics, and other initiatives you are willing to take to achieve your goals. Below are examples of things you can include in your strategy.

1. Have an Action Plan

Your action plan is a clear outline of how you intend to achieve your goals. It includes the specific things you have to do and the moves you have to make to achieve your goal.

For example, if you intend to save up an amount of money over a period of one year, your action plan will include a regular plan of setting aside a certain amount of money. It can also include other details, such as whether or not you will need to open a designated account for savings. The plan can also include how you intend to cut down on some other expenses to achieve your goal.

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Discover how to create an action plan with this article.

2. Focus on the Process Rather Than Results

One of the best strategies you can deploy to achieve your goals is to focus on the processes involved in achieving your goals rather than the end results. When you focus your energy on the process, you have greater chances of hitting your goals.

For example, if you have a goal to land a new job, your first focus should be on finding opportunities that match your previous work experience.

Once you’ve found a position, your next focus is preparing and submitting an attractive resume and cover letter in order to get called for an interview. If you get called for an interview, your next focus would be giving the interview process all it takes. This will involve researching the company and preparing to give an appropriate response to your interviewers and portraying yourself as the candidate for the job.

Your goal of getting a new job will likely come to fruition if you have focused on giving your best at each of the stages mentioned rather than just being preoccupied about getting the job.

3. Choose One Area to Focus on

One of the reasons people often find it impossible to reach their goals is because they run after too many goals at a time. While you can have multiple goals, choosing and concentrating your energy on one goal at a time can make a difference.

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This is a strategy that works. Human nature is not wired to perform optimally when its energy is diverted into too many things at one time. Focusing on an area means prioritizing your goals, taking one thing at a time, and moving on to the next thing when you’ve achieved one.

4. Plan for Changes and New Challenges

Another strategy you can put in place for your goals strategy are contingency plans. There are many things that are outside of your control that can affect your goals. For example, there can be major socio-economic changes that can affect your goal projections.

For example, your investment plan can be affected by an economic recession. If this happens, you will need an alternative plan to be able to achieve your investment goals.

5. Be Ready to Embrace New Directions

When situations change and a goal seems out of reach, embracing a new direction might be another way to reach your goal.

For example, if you have the goal of occupying a particular position in your organization, and after giving your best, the position is given to someone else, seeking a similar position in a similar organization can be something to think about.

If it is business, and you are not getting results with the kinds of clients you currently have, you might upgrade or downgrade your product/service and focus on a different set of clients.

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6. Test a Miniature Version of Your Goal

It is good to set big goals, but before you launch out, test it on a smaller scale. Testing a smaller version of your goal will give you the opportunity to detect opportunities and threats to your goals that you might not have considered before.

This strategy is applicable in business and for individuals. It is what recruiters use as job simulation (a test job) to ascertain how a candidate will perform on the real job. It is what partners practice when they date to get familiar with each other before making a marriage commitment.

7. Create Milestones

This looks like the one earlier mentioned about focusing on the process, but there’s a bit of difference. Creating milestones means breaking your goal into actionable units and focusing on achieving each unit at a specific moment.

For example, if you plan on moving your family to a new country for permanent residency, this will require that you at least secure employment in that country. Therefore, your first milestone will be to secure employment that can guarantee you and your family permanent residency. The second milestone is to secure your visa and residency permits, and your third and last milestone will be to plan your movement logistics. All these will come with deadlines or timelines.

8. Find a Competitor

While it is good to work at your own pace, healthy competition can help to bring out the best in you. It can also make you go the extra mile you might not have been willing to go alone.

Whatever it is that your goal is about, you can find someone to compete with. It might be at your workplace or someone you know remotely. A good example of this is found in two great athletes in the game of soccer: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players attest to how the rivalry between them has made them better in the game to the amazement of fans around the world.[2]

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9. Have an Accountability Partner

If your goal remains with you alone, it is easy to bury it in the pit of procrastination or drown it in the ocean of complacency. However, when you communicate your goals to an accountability partner — someone that is interested in your growth and can challenge you to action — you will often find the motivation to achieve your goals.

For example, when you create your yearly goals, you can have a chat with your accountability partner to challenge you based on your goals and the timeline you have set. To be more accountable, you can schedule a monthly or quarterly goal review meeting with your accountability partner

10. Act on Your Goal Daily

Your goals have to be serviced daily to keep your mind on them. This might be as simple as thinking it over: what you have done and what you can still do to reach your goal. It can also involve taking actions, such as making a phone call, sending an email reminder, or making a request that is connected to your goal.

11. Be Comfortable With Failure

If you don’t mind whether you fail or not, you will give your best to the processes involved in achieving your goals. Sometimes, not being sure of what the outcome might be can prevent us from giving our best because we don’t want our efforts to go down the drain.

However, when we are comfortable with failure, we will give our best to the process, leaving the outcome to emerge on its own. The results of this kind of approach are surprisingly impressive. However, even if it turns out that it truly failed, you will be proud that you gave it your best.

12. Keep a Goal Performance Journal

Have a journal to track your performance, including actions that you took that led to success in the process of achieving your goals. This will not only be useful for your current goal pursuit, but it will also be useful for future goals as you might need to repeat those actions.

Final Thoughts

Achieving your goals will require more than strategies; you will need to have the courage and determination to pursue your goals in the face of all odds. However, strategies do have their place. They provide the best paths you can take to achieve your goals and limit your chances of failure.

More Tips on Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Patrick Perkins via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

Goals and dreams are two concepts that are often used interchangeably in the quest for success. Although they can be used to complement one another, they do mean different things. This article looks at what goals and dreams are and how they can be used hand-in-hand in order to achieve personal success.

What Are Goals?

There are different ways to describe what goals are; it can be said that goals are the desired outcomes that you have plans and commitment to achieve. What makes goals spectacular is that the things you want to achieve are clearly defined with a timeframe within which they should be achieved.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Get certified in analytics in three months
  • Celebrate child’s 5th birthday in Disneyland
  • Attain financial freedom at 50
  • Read and finish at least one book monthly
  • Watch the next Olympic games live

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are thoughts, imaginations, and aspirations that are often about what we desire to attain, experience, or achieve. Dreams can be spontaneous, or they can be desires that we have nursed over a long time. Our dreams are often shaped and influenced by what we see regularly around us, the things we have heard or read about, or the things people we admire are doing.

Here are some examples of dreams:

  • Attend an Ivy League Institution
  • Own a company
  • Be debt-free
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Travel the world

Differences Between Goals and Dreams

There is no need to confuse goals and dreams when you know their differences[1] and how they can work together to facilitate success. The following are some useful insights about goals and dreams.

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Thoughts and Imagination Vs. Plans and Action

In order to have a dream, you need to engage your thoughts and imagination. This means thinking deeply about what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and to what extent you want to achieve those things. For dreams, everything ends in the realm of imagination if nothing is done thereafter.

Unlike dreams, goals require a commitment towards achieving the desired end. This includes deciding the size of the goals, planning the order of events that will lead to achieving them, and the timeline within which they should be achieved.

Spontaneity Vs. Thoughtfulness

You can have a dream anytime, anyhow, and without any form of preparation or formality. This is not the same with goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully, and conscientiously. They must be clearly written down and should be S.M.A.R.T.

Dreams Come Before Goals

It would be right to say that there is no goal without a dream. Dreams must come first because dreams give birth to goals. You must have a desire and nurture it in your mind until it becomes a burning desire that you are ready to pursue. That is when they can be turned to goals.

Captured Dreams Become Goals

There can be dreams without goals. Dreams can go on and on and end only in fantasy. However, when they are captured, they can become actionable goals that can, indeed, materialize.

There is a Yoruba proverb that can be translated thus: “S/he who finds money in the dream and gets excited should be told to focus on working hard so as not to become a victim of poverty.” While the proverb is primarily about night dreams, it can apply to imaginative dreaming, too.

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To realize your dream, it must be captured and turned into goals; then, you will have to create a goals strategy and follow it up with hardwork.

Goals Require Steps

Goals are the steps you set out to take after you are convinced that your dream is truly worth it. These steps will outline what you should do and how you should do them to attain your dream.

Dreams Are Free, but Goals Come With a Price

Dreams come without costs. You can dream as many times as you want in a day without restriction. However, goals are not like that. You have to think about whether your goals are achievable or not when setting them. Because of the costs (sacrifices) associated with getting your goals done, it places a limit on which goals you can set per time.

Lack of Limits Vs. Defined Objectives

There are no structures to dreams, neither are there limits to how far you can dream. But goals have to be framed. They must be clearly defined with measurable objectives and a timeline.

Inspiration Vs. Creating Change

You can dream to inspire yourself and aspire to a greater future, but if you want to experience real change, you have to be specific about what you want and how you want to get there. Goals are the commitments made towards creating change.

How to Turn Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals

To help you take your dreams to the next level, follow these tips and create actionable goals.

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1. Make Your Dream Clear and Solid

Before your dream can become ripe enough to be turned into an actionable goal, you have to be clear about what you really want. Your dream has to go from imagination to reality. Here are some things that can be done to make your dreams clear.[2]

Take Inspiration From Success Stories

Read inspiring stories of successful people to think through your own dreams. Such stories will help you to put your dreams in the proper perspective.

Envision Your Future

Engage the power of vision in picturing your own future. Let your mind be in tune with what you desire for yourself. It is a known truth that you are always drawn towards the pictures you have in your mind.

Think About Your Dream

The mind is very powerful, and it has the ability to create imaginary concepts that can be turned into reality. Most of the edifices you can see existed first in the realm of the mind.

See the Big Picture

Dreams are free, so think big. See the bigger picture of your dream, the highest possible level you think you can attain.

Write Down Your Dream

Capture your dreams by writing them down. This will make them clearer. You don’t have to be economical while writing them down. Just write them the way they occur to you.

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2. Break Your Dream Into Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

You might not be able to pursue your dream in its raw state, and that is why goals are needed. You should have a plan and structure for achieving your dream, and this will include setting both short-term and long-term goals that will get you on the path of your dream.

Short-term goals are goals that you set to achieve from now up to 3 months or in less than a year. Long-term goals are goals that can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to achieve. Your short-term goals are actually your stepping stones towards achieving the long-term goals and ultimately leading you to your dream.

3. Make the Goals SMART

What makes a goal statement differ from a dream statement is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T when framing them. This means that each of the goals you set towards achieving your dream must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.

For more on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article.

4. Break Each Goal Into Milestones

Beyond creating goals that are SMART, you should also break each goal into milestones. Milestones are small steps (miniature goals) that can be achieved within a very short time. When you achieve these smaller goals, it keeps you motivated to keep getting closer to your big dream without feeling overwhelmed. You can keep your eyes on the big dream while focusing on the milestones.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can have dreams to create a picture of their own future. If you are not satisfied with your current state, all you have to do is dream. If you have achieved your dreams, then it’s time to dream again or inspire others to dream.

You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive if you take the time to turn them into goals. Make your dreams big, but set smaller goals to move progressively towards the realization of your big dream.

More Tips on Using Dreams to Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Yukie Emiko via unsplash.com

Reference

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