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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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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