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Achieve Impossible Goals In 9 Simple Steps

Achieve Impossible Goals In 9 Simple Steps

1. Set Both Realistic and Unrealistic Goals

The founders of Tasty Brand want to see more organic baby food options. Scott Harrison of charity: water wants to see clean drinking water in developing nations. While both of these goals achievable, making a snazzy new product line seems pretty small compared to bringing clean water to the world.

But both types of goals – realistic, obviously achievable ones and big, seemingly insurmountable ones – are important to help you move forward in your life. Making progress in smaller goals helps propel you on to take bigger risks and reach bigger goals. And having big goals helps you to stay motivated and understand that you are doing makes a difference.

2. Work Hard

Impossible goals take time, and you won’t get there by sitting still, making plans, and dreaming about how awesome it will be once you achieve your goals. Instead, you’ve got to make it a daily, hourly habit to be doing the work it takes to move your forward, no matter how difficult that work is.

Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, Shark Tank regular, and Mavericks owner, went through a long series of stupid, tough, dead-end job, working hard at each one and telling himself that he “was getting paid to learn and every experience would be of value.” Then he started his own business and got to work harder: “I would get so involved with learning a new piece of software that I would forget to eat and look up at the clock thinking it was 6 or 7pm and see that it was 1am or 2am.”

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3. Get Others to Work with You

You can’t do it all by yourself. When you’re pursuing big goals, you need to pull a team of supportive, smart, positive people around you. If it’s just a few select family members and friends cheering you on while you run that marathon, be sure they know how important they are to your success. And if you’re building a business, launching a product, or trying to dominate a market, get a team that is the right fit.

Sarah Shupp , CEO and Founder of UniversityParent, says that it is important to hire people “much more intentionally and carefully. Early on, I made several hiring mistakes because I felt pressure to fill a seat rather than finding the right fit. This strategy almost never worked.”

4. Don’t Make Excuses

Excuses do not help you learn. They do not help you to grow. They do not help you to make yourself better, to learn from your mistakes, or to make progress. They simply make you feel a little bit better in the moment about what you haven’t yet achieved.

If you want to achieve the unachievable, you have to start by taking full responsibility for every decision, every action, every moment of your life. Sylvester Chisom learned from his mom, a single parent, as she supported him and his sister by being a hard-working entrepreneur. Chison, now a successful entrepreneur himself, says that her inspiration helped him to bootstrap his own way to success, and now he’s paying it forward with his $50 Startup Program for Schools.

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5. Don’t Underestimate Others

People are capable of much more than we imagine, and they’re willing to invest themselves in something that matters to them. Spend time cultivating relationships that help you become a better person, and you’ll reap the benefits in your whole life. And be discerning about who you work with or pursue goals with; not everyone will share the vision, but those who do can catapult you to success.

Cyrus Massoumi, CEO and founder at ZocDoc, says that the best advice he ever got was to remember that “Your first 20 hires…will make or break your company. Your company – your brand – is the sum of its parts. It’s made of people, and better people create a better company.”

6. Be Willing to Fall

When Cass Phillipps saw her start-up go down, she didn’t spend too long moaning about the loss. Instead, she learned how to celebrate failure as a way to learn a better route to success. The lesson was so important for her, in fact, that she started FailCon, a conference that brings together hundreds of people who share – and learn – about how they’ve failed and what they have learned from those failures.

“People that use failure to become more successful are people that see their failure as a learning experience,” says Phillipps. When falling face-first is something you know you can handle, you’ll be able to learn from it and use that wisdom to push yourself up and back toward success.

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7. Make Sacrifices

Pursuing a big dream means that you have to put aside small dreams: sometimes forever, sometimes for a season, while you put all your heart and energy into whatever your impossible goal is.

Rachel Federmen, wife of entrepreneur Ben Federmen, says that realizing how much a start-up, like any big goal, will take from the other aspects of your life is important. “You almost have to treat it like you’re on a wave—when it hits you, you have to ride it and do your best to stay healthy through the process,” she says.

8. Use Your Strengths

Achieving big, even unrealistic goals, can be possible but not if your goals require you to work consistently in your areas of weakness. You can work hard, but if you’re not working hard in your strengths, you are limiting your ability.

Isaac Newton’s mother intended for him to take on the family farm, and sent him off to do it. He failed miserably. Farming was, for him, a monotonous physical endeavor which did nothing to stimulate his active mind. If he had made it his ambition to be the best farmer ever, would he have succeeded? Most likely not; his strengths were not in working the land but in working through figures, theories, and analysis with his mind. When he got into work that fit his strengths, he was noted as “an extraordinary genius and proficiency in these things.”

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When you’re pursuing a big goal, it’s important to ratchet your ability up to the highest level, which means knowing and working primarily in your strengths.

9. Don’t Back Down

A miss here or there can be discouraging enough, but what about a big miss? What about having your motives called into question, facing bankruptcy, losing your home because you mortgaged it for a dream, or seeing one start-up after another crash and burn?

Brad Keywell, co-founder of Groupon and Lifebank, says,“I’ve been involved with companies that hit dead ends, had business ideas I couldn’t get off the ground, been in situations that I desperately wanted to succeed but were on a path to failure.” But, says Keywell, hanging on with bulldog-like tenacity to the bigger dream of succeeding pushes you through every single failure. “My ability to overcome adversity has often been tied to a refusal to accept defeat and a willingness to explore other approaches to the game.”

Featured photo credit: Izzard via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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