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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

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Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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