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Last Updated on December 3, 2020

How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

As well as being the founder of Lifehack, I also help people on a one-to-one basis through life coaching.

I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and have helped hundreds of clients reevaluate their lives and turn inertia into progress and failure into success.

A common theme I’ve noticed with many of my clients is that they don’t have any definite goals to aim towards.

This has always surprised me, as goal setting is frequently recommended by self-improvement gurus, performance coaches, and business leaders. It’s also something that I learned at university and have implemented successfully in my life ever since.

If you’re similar to the majority of my life coaching clients and you don’t have any definite goals to aim for, then you’re missing out on what is probably the most powerful personal success technique on the planet.

The good news is—you’ve come to the right place for help with this.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly what goal-setting is and how you can put it into action in your life. As you’ll discover, it’s a key that can open many doors for you.

An Introduction to Goal Setting

Goals can be big, small, short-term, long-term, essential, or desirable. But they all share one thing: They will give you something to aim for.

This is important. As just like a ship without a destination, if you have no goals, you’ll end drifting aimlessly.

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Goals give you purpose. They also give you drive and enthusiasm. In other words—they make you feel alive!

If you’ve never spent time setting goals before, then here’s what I recommend you to do:

  1. Take some time to evaluate all areas of your life (health, career, family, etc.).
  2. Determine which of these areas need a boost.
  3. Think of ways in which to achieve this (for example, if you want to boost your health, you could eat less and exercise more).
  4. Set some definite goals that you would like to achieve.
  5. Write down these goals, including the date you want to accomplish them by.

Now, before you get started on the above, I want to make one thing clear: Goals are not wishful thinking!

By this, I mean that while your goals should be ambitious, they shouldn’t be unrealistic or verging into fantasy land.

For example, wanting to be promoted at work would be a realistic goal while wanting to be President of the United States might not be. (Of course, feel free to prove me wrong!)

If you’re new to the world of goal setting, then I’d recommend you start with easy-to-achieve goals. These could be things such as eating a healthy breakfast, walking more, taking regular breaks from your screen, and sleeping early.

These simple goals might take you a month or so to achieve, including making the daily practices a habit.

Once you’ve successfully accomplished these goals, you’ll find your self-confidence grows, and you’ll be ready to set yourself some bigger goals.

Here are a few examples that you might want to choose or adapt to your personal circumstances:

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  • Run a marathon
  • Buy a new car
  • Learn a new language
  • Travel around the world
  • Change career
  • Retire early
  • Write a book

I’m sure you can think of many more things that you would like to achieve. As the famous Shakespeare line neatly states: “The world is your oyster!”

Now, the trick with big goals (as I’ll show in an example shortly) is to break them down into small, bite-sized chunks. This means you’ll have a big end goal, with smaller goals (sometimes referred to as objectives) helping you to gradually achieve your main aim.

When you do this, you’ll make big goals more achievable. Plus, you’ll have an easy way to track how far along the road to your goal you are at any given point in time.

Let’s see this in action…

Going from an Idea to a Global Success

Everything starts with an idea.

And there appears to be no shortage of good ideas in the world. But there is a shortage of people willing to put these ideas into action!

This is the essential step that will move you from being a dreamer to an achiever.

Back in 2005, when I first had the idea for Lifehack, I really only considered it to be a platform to record some of my productivity and self-improvement techniques. I’d developed these during my time at university and as a Software Engineer at Redhat.

However, based on the number of views and positive feedback I received on the first few articles, I quickly realized that Lifehack had the potential to be a popular and successful website—a site that could help transform the lives of people from all across the world.

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It was at that point that I decided to set some goals in place for Lifehack.

The way I did this was to set specific targets for different areas of the business:

  1. Number of articles published
  2. Amount of time spent writing and promoting the articles
  3. Number of new readers
  4. Number of new email subscribers
  5. Revenue generated from ads

For each of the above, I set weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. These targets were realistic but were also ambitious. In addition, I wrote down the necessary steps to take to achieve each target within the specified time frame.

This goal setting had a powerful impact on my motivation and energy levels. Because I could clearly see what needed to be done to achieve each goal, I found a purpose to my tasks that made them exciting to complete. Each small target achieved took me closer to accomplishing the bigger goals.

For example, my initial goals for writing articles were for just five a week, which equated to 20 per month and just over 100 per year. However, as I dedicated more and more time to Lifehack, I found I was able to exceed my initial goals.

This led me to increase the numbers. Of course, there’s a limit to how many articles one person can write. So when the readership began to exponentially increase, I started to hire other writers to help me out with the site’s content.

From my initial goal of just over 100 articles per year, I’ve used goal setting to help Lifehack publish more than 35,000 articles to date. This is now the largest collection of original self-development articles in the world.

And in terms of readership—this has skyrocketed from a few dozen in 2005 to several million in 2020.

And of course, I have many new goals for Lifehack, including expanding our range of online courses.

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My original goal has always remained the same though: To change people’s lives for the better.

Goal Setting Can Transform Your Life

If you haven’t yet experienced the incredible power of goal setting, then now’s the time to get started.

Build a definite picture of what you want to accomplish, break it down into small, achievable steps, and then start taking action!

You’ll be able to change all areas of your life using this method, including boosting your health, improving your relationships, and transforming your career. You may also want to use goal setting to start a new hobby or plot a path to a prosperous and peaceful retirement.

So please don’t wait for success to drop in your lap (which it is highly unlikely to do). Instead, decide on exactly what you want, then make a plan to get it. This is the secret to lifelong success.

Legendary motivational speaker and author Paul J. Meyer said it well:

“Goal setting is the most important aspect of all improvement and personal development plans. It is the key to all fulfillment and achievement.”

Final Thoughts

Now, let me leave you with five questions that will help you think about your future:

  1. What would you like to be doing in 3, 5, and 7 years?
  2. What things make you happiest?
  3. How can you share your knowledge and experience?
  4. Who can help you achieve your goals?
  5. What would you like to be your legacy?

Take plenty of time to think about these questions. When the answers come, you’ll be able to start building a picture of how you’d like your life to be—and what goals you need to set to make this picture a reality.

More Tips on Setting Goals

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

Dreams Are Imaginary But Setting Your Goals In This Way Can Make Them Come True!

Dreams Are Imaginary But Setting Your Goals In This Way Can Make Them Come True!

All of us have failed to achieve a goal at some point. In spite of our best intentions, circumstances and a lack of motivation can keep us from following through. Even the most dedicated goal setters occasionally question whether they are taking the right steps to lead a fulfilling life.

When life becomes complicated, our dreams and goals sometimes take a back seat. Over time, we can lose sight of our passion altogether. It is possible to achieve our goals if we remember that goals and dreams are not necessarily the same things.

Dreams are imaginary. Goals are based in reality. They’re different.

One of the biggest misconceptions about goal setting is that your desire to achieve is enough. As Les Brown stated,

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“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”

Wanting to lose weight, write a book, save for retirement, or start your own business are dreams. Adopting good goal setting strategies can turn your dreams into goals and your goals into reality. All goals start with that dream or desire, but when you engage in goal setting, you devise actionable steps for getting what you want. Having a dream without setting goals is like setting out on a cross-country trip without a map.

Achieving your goals isn’t always going to be pretty. Be ready to face the challenges.

When you see the successful people of the world – the Olympic athletes, innovators, entrepreneurs, and bestselling authors, you only see the results of their efforts. Since we can’t see their struggle, it can give us the false impression that their success materialized with little effort on their part.

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It can be easy and motivating to visualize your goals coming to life. You can picture yourself in that swimsuit after you lose weight, or you can imagine your book on a shelf in the bookstore. What you may not think about, but what you must anticipate, is that achieving your goals isn’t always going to be pretty.

You will experience circumstances that test your resolve. If you aren’t willing to make sacrifices or stick with your goals through the tough times, then it will be hard to succeed. You have to be prepared to face challenges to achieve your goals.

To realize your goals, you’ll have to make a good plan.

About 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by February.[1] The statistics on resolutions show that many of us have excellent intentions, but we have trouble following through.[2]

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Take the following steps to begin the goal setting process:

  1. State your vision and write it down.

    Some people use special planners,[3] others make vision boards[4] or write their goals on a sheet of paper. No matter what medium you choose, you’ll be more likely to succeed if you write your goal setting steps and include solutions to challenges. If you start to lose focus, you can refer back to these documents for inspiration and motivation.[5] The key is to be specific about what you want.

  2. Anticipate obstacles In The First Place.[6]

    If the path to success was easy, there wouldn’t be so many failed resolutions. Complacency, negative self-talk, unfocused efforts, and fear of failure can derail goal setting. Factors such as your personal life, professional responsibilities, and financial concerns can also disrupt your plans. If you can foresee areas of difficulty, you can proactively plan to address them without losing your motivation.

  • You know that you want to write your book, but you also have to work a full-time job to pay your bills. Some of your biggest obstacles are time and money. Write down concrete steps that you will take to find the time and money to devote to writing.
  • I will wake up one hour before I have to get ready for work to make time to write.
  • I will hold myself accountable to writing 500 words per day, even if that means that I have to stay up late to meet this goal.
  • I will cut back on unnecessary expenses and save X amount of money per week so that I can reduce the hours I spend at work and devote more time to writing.
  • Establish accountability. Sharing your goal on social media, participating in an online challenge, or telling your best friend about your intentions can help you navigate difficult times. You may even be able to work with others with goals similar to your own. By scheduling regular meetings to check in with them, you can stay on the right track. Your accountability buddy can also be the person you call when you feel like giving up.

3. Put Your Goal in Scope: Set SMART Goals[7]

SMART Goals are:

  • S – Specific. It isn’t enough to say you want to lose weight. Why do you want to shed those pounds? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to visualize your goals and anticipate setbacks.
  • M – Measurable. Goals have actionable steps that you can measure. How many pounds do you want to lose? What will success look like for you? Measurable goals can be broken into smaller benchmarks that you can use to keep yourself on track.
  • A – Achievable. Your dreams can be as big as you want them to be, but your goals should be things that you can accomplish. Perhaps you want to lose weight, but is it safe or feasible to lose 50 pounds in a month? Think about what it is going to take to get what you want, and decide if these are things that you are willing to do. Coming up with reasonable and achievable steps during the goal setting process will keep you from giving up out of frustration.
  • R – Relevant. Your goal should be something that you truly want to do. Are you applying to medical school because you have a genuine desire to help people, or are you applying because your parents want to have a doctor in the family? The best goals are determined by what motivates you, and not what others think should motivate you.
  • T – Time-bound. With no deadline, you can take your dreams to your grave. What steps can you take right now? Where can you expect to be in 3 months, 6 months, and one year?

Example on a Complete Passionate Goal Setting

  • Saying that you want to write a novel isn’t going to make one appear. Use positive statements and direct language. The top of your goal setting page might say, “I will write a book,” or “I am a writer.” The rest of your page might say something like, “By the end of this month, I will read one book on the craft of writing. By [insert date here], I will complete an outline for my novel. During [insert time frame here], I will research information about editing best practices.” “When I experience self-doubt, I will read a chapter from Stephen King’s On Writing.” The more details and deadlines that you give yourself, the better you’ll be able to check your progress.

You can do this! Goal setting helps you keep moving forward at any time.

If you are able to establish SMART goals and you are willing to make sacrifices to achieve your them, you are on the right track to making your dream a reality. Know that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and slip up from time to time.[8] Goal setting isn’t just about visualizing the perfect outcome. It is also about planning for the times when things aren’t so perfect and developing strategies to keep moving forward.

Reference

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