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8 Simple and Effective Ways to Reach Your Ultimate Goals

8 Simple and Effective Ways to Reach Your Ultimate Goals

Use goals to live longer. No medicine in the world is as powerful in bringing about long life as is the desire to do something. -The Magic of Big Thinking

Do you ever feel like you reach for the stars and never seem to get where you want? Like you’re trying so hard but not getting the results you want?

You’re not alone.

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But here’s the good news: you’re already ahead of 99% of people. You just need to tweak your approach and you’ll reach your ultimate goal. Here are eight ways to get you going on the right path:

1. Set the right types of goals.

Ever heard of a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG)? It’s a term coined by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, to describe a goal that’s strategic and emotion-driven. Collins advocates setting these types of goals because the traditional “SMART” goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-driven) lack the emotional connection necessary for accomplishing big life goals. A better approach, according to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research company, is to form “HARD” goals:

  • Heartfelt: having an emotional attachment to your goal.
  • Animated: motivated by a vision, picture or movie in your mind.
  • Required: goals need to feel so urgent and necessary that you have no other choice but to start acting on them immediately.
  • Difficult: drag you out of your comfort zone, activating your senses and attention.

2. Map out your plan.

It’s not enough to have a goal. You need a plan to accomplish it too. This is where many people fail. They set goals but don’t follow-up and create a plan to get started. When this happens, big goals seem overwhelming and we’re more likely to give up.

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Create a road map to reach your goal. Plan one or two actions you can take each week and focus on doing small things every day. For example, if your goal is to start a new business this year, this week you can choose a URL and do some research on building a WordPress website. The key is to break your goal down into smaller steps that are more achievable.

3. Visualize and reflect.

Social scientist Frank Niles, Ph.D., says:

When we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement. This creates a new neural pathway–clusters of cells in our brain that work together to create memories or learned behaviors–that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined.

Visualize yourself reaching your goals, including the process and work it will take to get there (this is important). Try to feel what it will be like once you reach those big accomplishments. This will form a lasting picture in your mind.

4. Write yourself a letter.

I love this tip from John Carlton, the legendary copywriter. He says, “My trick to setting goals is very simple: I sit down and write myself a letter, dated exactly one year ahead.”

Carlton says you should write yourself a detailed letter describing your life one year from now. It’s a powerful technique and is another way to use visualization to map out your desired outcome in your mind.

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5. Take action every day.

Look, it doesn’t matter how much you learn if you don’t take action. Don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. The best way to learn is by doing. Embrace failure–it’s the stepping stone to success.

6. Tell others.

A psychology professor at Dominican University found that people who wrote down their goals, shared them with others, and maintained accountability for their goals were 33% more likely to achieve them. So go spread the word to your family and friends, and let them in on your goals and plans. You’ll likely get valuable feedback too.

7. Plan for setbacks.

Being a good goal-setter is kind of like boxing; you need to learn to roll with the punches because you know you’re going to get hit. The best way to minimize the impact of setbacks is to plan for them. Have a contingency plan for when things go wrong. Be prepared to react and learn from those setbacks. They’ll be valuable learning opportunities.

8. Evaluate your progress every week.

Ask yourself: what did I do this week to get closer to my goal? What worked? What didn’t?

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And don’t forget to celebrate your success too. Allow yourself to bask in the success of a great week and then get right back at it and check the next things off your list. That’s how you’ll reach your ultimate goals.

Featured photo credit: zen! via flickr.com

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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