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10 Ways Successful People Achieve Their Goals

10 Ways Successful People Achieve Their Goals

Setting and achieving goals is one of the best ways to improve your life. Goals reduce boredom and the sense of drift that many people experience, plus working on your goals gives your self-confidence a great boost.

Let’s look at ten ways that successful people in various fields use goals to improve their lives. As with any approach, your results will vary depending on your commitment and understanding. Consider this article an introduction to the important principles of goals.

1. They use a proven goal setting system

It is important to start working on goals with a proven system. In December 2014, I bought and used Michael Hyatt’s excellent 5 Days To Your Best Year Ever program. As a result of going through the program, I set nine goals for 2015. The process Hyatt lays out takes a few days (though one could compress it into a weekend in a pinch) and it worked out. Hyatt has achieved significant success in the publishing industry, as a professional speaker and as an author.

2. They balance planning and action

Planning and action both play an important role in achieving major goals. Some professions – architects, engineers and project managers for example – have developed strong planning skills and approaches. Unless you are building a space ship, it is vital to put a time limit on planning.

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In my experience working toward annual goals, I find it is helpful to plan 1-3 actions to be accomplished in the next week.

3.They set goals for all areas of their life (not just career and money)

Many of the experts and articles on goal setting focus on business and career goals (e.g. earn more money, increase one’s sales commissions, launch a new product). That is an understandable focus, however a relentless focus on career goals to the exclusion of other aims tends to lead to unhappiness and decreased productivity.

Successful people take the time to define leisure goals (e.g. visit wine country in California with my spouse), health and fitness goals (e.g. run a marathon race) and personal growth goals (e.g. learning a language). It is a mistake to assume that the rest of your life will somehow drift into place if you fail to set goals.

4. They set their own goals for their life

Many companies and employers have an annual goal setting process for their employees. Successful people know that this activity is only one part of their goals. As business philosopher Jim Rohn observed: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

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Working on your own goal ensures you have an active and interesting life outside of the office. Besides, it is fun to set and achieve demanding personal goals.

5. They have a goal review system

Putting your goals into writing is a vital step that many successful people use to reach success, however it is not enough. When you are working toward challenging goals that takes months or years to achieve, regular goal reviews are essential.

Business consultant and author David Allen proposed the Weekly Review in his classic book “Getting Things Done.” Successful people add the step “review annual goals” to that weekly review. During that time, successful people reflect on their progress, challenges encountered and plan for future steps.

6. They seek expert help when they face challenges

Seeking out expert guidance and advice makes a major impact on achieving your goals. Seeking outside help takes several forms. For example, a young George Washington developed relationships with powerful people in colonial Virginia to launch his career. Your relationships and network can play an important role in supporting your goal achievement.

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In addition to your personal network, there are other resources you can access to reach your goals. For example, if you need to learn more technology skills to get the type of job you want, you can take a course in programming or earn a certification.

7. They are thoughtful about sharing their goals

Successful people understand that their goals say a lot about their interests, desires and challenges. Given that reality they are selective in how they share their goals. For example, a successful person may share their business goals in the context of a mastermind meeting where they can receive helpful comments and advice from other highly motivated people. In contrast, a successful person building a side hustle is unlikely to mention that activity at their corporate day job.

When in doubt, do not share your goals as you are working on them.

8. They seek inspiration to get through tough times

Disappointments and challenges are part of the picture when you work on challenging goals. Fortunately, many other successful people have sought outside inspiration to get through tough times. Strategist Ryan Holiday has found much practical help and insight from studying Stoic works such as The Meditations by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

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Tip: To sustain your motivation in the face of challenges, develop your self-knowledge with personality analysis tools such as the DISC Profile.

9. They are not perfectionists in their goals

In certain circumstances, it makes sense to adjust your goals. You may adjust the deadline on a goal. I have done this myself in 2015. In my case, I adjusted the exam date for a professional exam because my studies and self-assessment tests indicated that I had to study further. You may also need to abandon goals (or put them on hold) if you suffer a serious illness.

Remember your goals are the vehicle on the path to success. Sometimes you have to leave a goal behind if it is simply not working for you.

10. They celebrate goal achievements!

One of life’s great pleasures is to celebrate achieving a goal. Many of us have the experience of celebrating graduation days and earning degrees. Here is journalist Minda Zetlin, writing in Inc Magazine about several ways to celebrate success at work. You can give yourself a day off or you may decide to issue a press release for a major corporate success. Zetlin also suggests reflecting on how far you have come (e.g. “a year ago, I had never run for more than five minutes and today I finished my marathon race!”)

Featured photo credit: Business Suit/Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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