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Published on June 17, 2020

How to Actually Make Your Goals Happen

How to Actually Make Your Goals Happen

Flash back to the beginning of this year with me for a moment: You’re excited. You’re motivated. You’re optimistic about the year ahead. In the heat of your enthusiasm, you decide you want to be super-ambitious this year. And you set some big stretch goals[1] for yourself. “It’s going to be a great year,” you tell yourself. “This is the year I actually learn how to make goals happen.”

Now, let’s fast-forward to a handful of months (or more) into the year.

How are you doing with your yearly goals?

Have you broken them down? Have you created actionable plans and projects to help you accomplish your goals?

Have you actually even looked at your annual goals since you wrote them down at the outset of the year?

Have you taken those yearly goals and broken them down into monthly goals? Weekly goals? Daily goals?

And as of right now, in this moment, are you doing the most important thing you can do to bring your greatest goals closer to completion?

If your answer to any of the above questions was no, then I would propose to you that reading this article—and following the actionable advice within it—is the single most important thing you can do right now. Here’s how to get started.

1. Take More Action

The greatest barrier folks face when they’re trying to figure out how to make goals happen is a lack of action.

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Why do so many of us set big goals and fail to follow up with action?

The problem is not you. It’s not that you aren’t capable of achieving your goals…you are.

The problem is within the way the goal was set in the first place.

The reason people don’t achieve their goals—the reason people fail to take consistent action towards making their goals a reality—is because:

  1. They set goals once a year and don’t revisit them often enough.
  2. They don’t break big goals down into smaller goals to be achieved within a narrow timeline.

To make goals happen, take more action. To take more action, shrink your timeline.

2. Shrink Your Timeline

The simplest way to make your biggest goals happen is to break them up into several smaller goals, insert them into a narrow timeline, and plug away at achieving the small goals, which will eventually lead you to achieving the big one.

Here’s what I mean by that: it’s tough to wrap your head around achieving a big yearly goal within a day, But that’s what your mind thinks it needs to do when it sees a big goal by itself. It thinks it needs to take down a herculean—year-sized—goal with one fell swoop. But this would be nearly impossible, so it gives up.

However, if you take that big yearly goal and create a timeline of tasks (beginning today) that progressively lead to you achieving your big yearly goal, now your brain sees a path to victory.

Your brain can’t achieve what your brain can’t see.

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It’s like walking into a pitch black room. At first, you walk inside and you can’t see a single thing. But then you flip the light-switch and boom—now you can see. All of a sudden the room is flooded with light and everything is clear.

That’s what happens to your brain when it sees a clear plan of action[2] with a timeline.

The key, then, for making big goals happen is to:

  1. Define a big picture goal. This might be a yearly goal you’ve already set, like “read 50 books this year” or “make $1,000,000 this year.”
  2. Narrow the timeline by working backwards from the bigger picture goal, breaking it down into smaller monthly goals, followed by smaller weekly goals, followed by still smaller daily goals, all the way down to your single current goal in this very moment.

This process is called “Goal Setting to the Now,” and the simplicity and effectiveness of this system helped me become a millionaire by the age of 30.

But it’s not just for professional success. Goal Setting to the Now works to help you make your goals happen in every area of life: health and fitness, spirituality, personal development and education, relationships and more.

3. Use Goal Setting to the Now

In their book, The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan write:

“By thinking through the filter of Goal Setting to the Now, you set a future goal and then methodically drill down to what you should be doing right now. It can be a little like a Russian matryoshka doll in that your ONE Thing “right now” is nested inside your ONE Thing TODAY, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this WEEK, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this MONTH… it’s how a small thing can actually build up to a big one… You’re lining up your dominoes.”

Side note: I had one of the authors of The One Thing come onto my podcast to break this idea down, you can listen to it here.

Goal Setting to the Now is all about lining up your dominoes and knocking them down, one by one, until you achieve your ultimate goal.

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Let’s say, for example, that you have an ultimate goal of reading 50 books a year. Here’s how you would drill down the actions and narrow your timeline to make this something you’re likely to achieve.

Someday Goal:

What’s the ONE thing I want to do someday?

Develop the habit of reading 50 books per year for the rest of my life.

Five-Year Goal:

Based on my Someday Goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do in the next 5 years?

In order to achieve my goal of reading 50 books per year for the rest of my life, I must read 250 books within the next five years.

One-Year Goal:

Based on my Five-Year Goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do this year?

In order to achieve my five-year goal of reading 250 books, I must read 50 books within the next 12 months (one year).

Monthly Goal:

Based on my One-Year Goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do this month?

Since there are about 50-53 weeks in a typical year, in order to achieve my one-year goal, I must read four or five books a month. This month I will read the following four personal development books:

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  1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  3. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (In case I need something easy at the end of my first month!)

Weekly Goal:

Based on my Monthly Goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do this week?

In order to achieve my monthly goal, I must read one book each week. This week I will read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Daily Goal:

Based on my Weekly Goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do today?

Since the average book is about 250 pages in length, in order to achieve my weekly goal of reading a book a week, I must read approximately 36 pages per day.

In order to achieve my daily page-count, I will block off one hour of dedicated reading time at 8:00 AM each morning on my calendar.

Right Now:

Based on my Daily Goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do right now?

Give myself a pat on the back, because I completed my morning reading, and I’m on track to achieve my Someday Goal of reading 50 books per year for the rest of my life!

Now, all you need to do is knock down each domino until you’ve hit your Someday Goal. Should keep you pretty busy, right?

The Bottom Line

It might seem redundant, or even overly simple, but the real key to actually making your greatest goals happen in any area of your life is to break them down and narrow your timeline—collecting lots of small wins, which eventually build up to the achievement of the bigger goal.

  1. Start by defining a big picture goal for yourself, or use one that you’ve already defined but have yet to accomplish.
  2. Break that goal up into actionable steps.
  3. Insert those steps into a narrow timeline by using Goal Setting to the Now.

More Tips on How to Make Goals Happen

Featured photo credit: airfocus via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox
[2] Dean Bokhari: Action Leads to Motivation

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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