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Last Updated on December 4, 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 January 21, 2021

30 Goals To Set For Yourself Before Turning Into 40s

30 Goals To Set For Yourself Before Turning Into 40s

Some people believe that once they’ve passed the age of 30, they’re too old to do something new and exciting; that it’s time for them to settle down.

If you have found your dream job, and are clear about your purpose of life, then go ahead and live your best life! However, it’s never too late to dream a new dream and set some new goals.

The vast majority of the people focus on their careers and how much they need to earn, but there are certain things you should do to create unforgettable memories and make yourself proud of what you managed to accomplish.

Whereas there are countless ideas which vary on your attitude and lifestyle, the following list is full of things anyone should try.

1. Visit a new continent.

New continent means a whole new experience, different culture and tons of interesting people to meet. Everyone should visit another continent at least once in a lifetime, it’s a priceless experience.

2. Travel to at least 20 countries.

Each new country you visit is an original life lesson and unique memories. The more countries you travel to, the better you can compare them and draw conclusions from people’s behavior, culture, and rituals. By spending time in different environments, we can learn a lot about ourselves.

3. Make at least one friend in every country you visit.

Traveling somewhere without making a new friend there is a huge loss. By interacting with local people, you may have a chance to learn about the secret facts of that very location and explore some mysterious places. What’s more, creating a bond with the locals creates an opportunity to revisit the country cheaper by being hosted by the people you’ve met.

4. Take a spontaneous trip.

Without planning every single detail, pack all the necessary stuff and set off into the unknown. You don’t even have to leave your country, the key is to make it impromptu, face what life throws at you and see how you can deal with that. Once the trip is over, you’ll learn some incredible lessons that you wouldn’t have by booking an all-inclusive vacation.

Catching a last-minute flight to a random destination might be a starting point for a serious adventure.

5. Learn a new language.

Do you know what’s the Bill Gates’ most regretted thing is? It’s not learning a second language. During your travel, it’s a great opportunity to practice your language skills with locals. While you are at home, you can learn the basics using books, attending a course or through online programs. And then, once you have a chance to speak with native speakers, this will be the moment when you learn the most. During just a few months of attending a German high school, I learned far more than spending two years of practice with books (though it was a good preparation).

6. Go Bungee Jumping.

This idea may seem crazy to you, but it’s just a warm up comparing to the next one. Bungee jumping is an insane way to face your fears and do something against common sense. As for me, it’s a valuable lesson which emphasizes the fact that even the scariest things turn out to be tolerable once you go through them.

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7. Skydive.

As I promised, this one is hardcore. Experience the unstoppable power of gravitation and see the world from a different perspective. Though I didn’t skydive yet, doing it at least once is definitely on my bucket list.

8. Face your worst fear.

Whatever you fear, most probably it’s a mental issue and not a real danger. There’re countless phobias people suffer from. I don’t know what’s yours, but I dare you to test your limits and see how far you can go.

9. Stand on top of a mountain.

And get there going on a foot. The view from the top is invaluable and unique. You literally feel the power of nature and see how small we actually are comparing to the natural forces.

10. Boost your financial stability.

Before you turning into 40, becoming financially independent is almost mandatory. To avoid getting lost in debt and make the money work for you and not vice versa, you should devote some time to learning finances. This 14-day plan is a great way to start.

11. Create your personal emergency fund.

Saving money regularly is a life-saving habit once you are in financial troubles. Most experts suggest your emergency fund should allow yourself to cover at least 3 months of living expenses. While you are busy making your dreams come true and doing crazy things, be aware that accidents do happen, so having a financial security is definitely helpful while you’ll be figuring out the alternative plan to solve your problems.

12. Create an online business on the side.

Nowadays, there are endless ways to make some extra money online. A legit method almost anyone can try out is monetizing your skills through creating an online course or ebook. It’s a great way to cover additional expenses and learn a bit of entrepreneurship from real life experience. Maybe you’ll even be able to leave your 9–5 and create your dream lifestyle making money from any place in the world like digital nomads do.

To learn more, check out these 24 easy ways to make money on the internet.

13. Develop a habit of daily exercising.

The older you are, the more likely you are to lead a sedentary lifestyle which is a horrible tendency. To avoid it, focus on creating healthy habits. There’s no excuse for not finding at least 20 minutes a day to train. You can try out bodyweight workouts or go for a quick run.

Your body will be incredibly grateful and serve you well for longer.

Although he has one of the most exacting jobs you can imagine, Barrack Obama works out for 45-minute every day. It’s a habit everyone should borrow.

14. Start eating healthy.

Diet-related problems are a huge concern in today’s world. More than one-third U.S. adults are obese. Mostly, because of unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Taking care of your eating patterns is mandatory if you keep your health. The more you put it off, there more likely you are to never get started.

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In a nutshell, choose unprocessed, whole products and avoid junk food with huge amounts of sugar, salt, and fat.

15. Get in the best shape of your life.

There are some living miracles like C.T. Fletcher who achieved the best shape during his 50s. However, now is always the perfect moment to do that. Educate yourself about nutrition, maybe invest in a personal coach and commit to fully transform your body. There are countless 1-year transformations on Youtube which serve as a great source of inspiration.

Once you are in your life’s best shape, go on a photo session so you can proudly show your grandchildren how shredded you once were.

16. Become a disciplined person.

Self-discipline is an enormously useful skill when it comes to making your dreams become a reality. Without discipline, you can’t stick to your commitments and work toward your goals. Becoming a person with rules will have a positive impact on your future self.

The fact is, you can either control yourself or let yourself control you. If you dream of a meaningful life, you’ll definitely aim for the first option.

This free self-discipline book is a good resource to begin with.

17. Become a morning person.

The majority of the most successful people swear by the power of being an early riser. Whether it’s CEOs, world’s best athletes or other outstanding individuals, most of them have a morning routine which highly contributes to their success.

Morning ritual empowers your day and gives you an advantage over the rest of the world which still sleeps while you work to become a better self.

18. Read at leat 100 books.

Whatever your problem is, there is at least one decent book offering a solution. Books hide incredible value and knowledge. The sad fact is, however, more and more people prefer TV shows or video games.

Once I became a regular reader, I realized how much you miss out if you refuse to read. The impact books have made (and still make) on my life is gigantic.

Start to finish reading at least one book a month, and you will have completed 12 book a year!

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If you don’t know which books to choose, check out this post.

19. Write a book.

81% of the population feels they could write a book, but only the minority takes action and starts writing. The truth is, once you begin to write, you are a writer. Finishing a book is challenging but the sense of satisfaction afterward is definitely worth it.

Pick a topic and devote 30 minutes a day to writing. In a year or even sooner, you’ll not only drastically improve your language skills but also finish your first book.

Nowadays, when self-publishing becomes more and more popular, you can release your work avoiding the middlemen and maybe even discover that your calling turns out to be a writer. You don’t know until you try…

20. Write a letter to your future self.

Make sure to include your dreams, expectations and plans. Decide how much time needs to go by until you open your letter. Once you do it, it will be the moment of truth and a chance to see whether you became who you wanted to be.

If you prefer modern technology, you can write an email to your future self using free services like futureme.org.

21. Go offline for a whole month.

Imagine no Facebook, Internet, Reddit or Lifehack for the whole month. This 30-day challenge tests your ability to entertain yourself in the world ruled by technology, avoiding the Internet and computers completely. To make it even more spicy, cut off the television.

It’s a great opportunity to spend more time with your friends and family, focus on your passions and read more books.

22. Take a picture every day for a whole year.

I doubt there are many mementos better than this. Once the year is over, you create a time-lapse which shows portrait by portrait how you changed during the 365 days.

Watching it 20 years later will probably make you cry.

23. Make a list of things that truly make you happy.

And make sure to do these activities as often as possible. You can have all the money in the world and a career that society considers the most successful, yet you can feel miserable. It’s because the real happiness comes from experiences, self-realization, and contribution. While you discover the world checking off the things from this list, try to find out which environment makes you the happiest person in the world.

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Whenever you face a hard moment, take out your happiness-list and start doing one of the things from it. As a result, the bad emotion fades away much quicker.

24. Complete the integrity challenge.

Integrity challenge is an idea from I borrowed from Joel Runyon. Oftentimes our actions don’t represent our thoughts and commitments. This weird phenomenon is most visible when a new year begins and most of the people fail to stick to their resolutions. The way it works is simple. Choose one thing, ideally an uncomfortable task like daily jogging for 30 minutes, determine the timeframe (e.g. 90 days) and then just do your thing every single day without failing even once until you arrive at the finish line.

This test points out your weaknesses and questions your willpower. However, once you accomplish it successfully, it gives you a huge motivation boost to pursue more complex goals which every 20-something should aim at.

25. Help a homeless person to get back to a normal life.

Our life isn’t only about ourselves but also about the people around us. There are many folks who really need help but are ignored by the majority of the society. Imagine supporting a homeless person with the goal in mind to make them a self-sufficient member of the community again.

If you feel miserable, be aware that giving back is one of the fastest methods to make yourself incredibly happy.

26. Donate to a local foundation.

The amount of your donation doesn’t matter, the fact of doing it does. Imagine if everyone (who’s financially independent) donated a dollar a month to a foundation of choice. It seems small but once you add up all the donations, the sum can make a huge difference in other people’s lives.

27. Stop looking for other people’s approval.

This is an especially useful yet rare skill. We definitely care way too much about how others perceive us which in result lowers your self-esteem and confidence as well as makes you overthink the simple choices. Abandoning the validation completely is tough, but it’s worth working toward it.

Once you accept the inevitable disapproval, you can become your true and authentic self. To get started, have a look at this post.

28. Learn to say no.

Saying no at the right moment is a habit which guarantees you a better life. However, the tendency in most people is quite the opposite. They say yes way too much and end up with unnecessary commitments and responsibilities which don’t add any value to their lives.

Now is when you should finally grasp that. There are plenty of things you don’t need to say yes to all the time.

29. Make a DIY furniture.

Do it yourself” movement grows in popularity and some of the ideas people come up with are seriously unbelievable. Creating your own piece of furniture boosts your creativity, tests your manual skills and saves you money. The satisfaction after putting your favorite books on a hand-made shelf beats every commercial furniture.

30. Spend a night under the stars.

As for me, watching the sky in the night is the best way to get the existential buzz. It’s a beautiful scenario to contemplate about your life, plans, and the future. Pitch a tent in the nature, make a bonfire, invite your loved ones and fire your imagination with the stars.

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

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