Setting goals can be exciting.
The possibilities for the future are endless.
People write New Years’ Resolutions, optimistic about the coming year.
Until halfway through the year, they’ve completely forgotten what they wanted to achieve and return to where they were last year.
The problem that most people face isn’t that their goals aren’t memorable or big enough – it’s that they lack follow-through.
There’s a difference between setting goals and achieving them – successful people know this.
They know that it’s better to start with a flimsy plan with limited resources than wait for “the perfect moment” to get going.
They figure it out along the way.
Learn 12 more lessons about how successful people achieve their goals.
1. They Are Clear With What They Want To Achieve
You can’t score without a clear, achievable goal.
For instance, take the goal: “learn French.”
Countless people say that they want to “learn French” but never get around to actually learning French.
Because it’s too broad.
What exactly about French do they want to learn?
The writing part? The speaking?
And at what point would one be able to say that they’ve “learned French”?
It’s vague and obscure.
A study involving students wanting to learn Spanish found that writing clear goals helped increase their chances of achieving it.
They also referenced how setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound) has had a positive effect on those that set it.
So instead of saying you want to “learn French”, an alternative might be, “I want to be able to hold a 10 minute conversation in French by the end of this year.”
2. They Remind Themselves Of Their Goals
The new year is about to begin and you tell yourself that you are finally going to start working out.
Then a few months in, your goal is long forgotten.
Anyone can say, “I want to be healthier”, but it’s another thing to follow through with it.
While it might not be much, it helps.
A study found that getting reminded of your goals boosts your chances of achieving them.
3. They Believe In Themselves
Achieving goals starts with your mindset.
If you believe that you aren’t capable of achieving your goal, the more likely it will be true.
A study found that students that were optimistic achieved higher scores than those who were pessimistic.
Successful people also tend to have what is called a “growth mindset.”
That means that they aren’t discouraged when they don’t know how to do something.
Instead, they believe in themselves enough to learn how to do it.
This is what allows them to achieve their goals.
4. They Get Started
Often, people are stuck in the planning phase for various reasons.
They’re still trying to figure it out or waiting for the perfect time to get started.
While it may be true, it might also be a mask for procrastination.
If you have a goal in mind, don’t wait around to get started.
Set it. Plan it. Then get going.
Entrepreneur Peter Thiel once said that, “A bad plan is better than having no plan.”
That means that even if your plan to achieve your goal isn’t fully polished yet, even if conditions aren’t right, you can still get started trying to achieve your goal.
Successful people aim for progress, not perfection.
5. They Break Their Goals Down Into Small Chunks
Sometimes, goals can be too large that they become intimidating.
You want to write a book but don’t know how or where to start.
Should you polish your writing style?
How much research should be done?
What should the book be about?
When a goal is too large, it might even make it easier to not do anything at all.
Successful people understand this.
It’s why they break their goals down into manageable tasks.
That’s all goals really are: a set of small tasks performed consecutively.
To write a book, there needs to be chapters.
To make chapters, there needs to be paragraphs.
To make paragraphs, there needs to be sentences.
Writing a page or two of sentences every day will eventually lead you to a finished book.
6. They Focus On The Process
Often people get so lost in the idea of a goal that they forget that they actually need to do work to make it come true.
They jump from A to Z without considering all the steps in between.
Author James Clear wrote that winners and losers have the same goal.
Basketball teams don’t aspire to win 2nd place after all.
What differs is their approach: their process.
If you want to write a book, develop a writing habit.
If you want to get healthier, try skipping on dessert.
If you focus on creating the habits that will lead to success, you will develop the consistency needed to achieve your goal.
7. They Show Their Commitment Through Their Actions
It isn’t enough to say that you are committed to your goal.
If you want to prove it, to others and to yourself, you are going to have to actually show it.
Successful people show their commitment to their goals by making changes in their lifestyle.
They cut sugary food, or discontinue their content subscription to allow them to focus on what matters the most to them: achieving their goal.
8. They Review Their Progress Often
What gets measured gets managed.
If you don’t check on your weight throughout the year, you won’t have any clue if your diet is working or not.
It’s easy to feel like you’re making progress when in reality you aren’t.
Numbers don’t lie.
If you feel like you’ve lost 5 pounds when in reality you gained 6, no amount of feeling will bring that number down for you.
Successful people always keep track of their progress often.
That way, if they begin deviating from their well-thought-out plan, they can make the adjustments necessary to get themselves back on track.
9. They Let Go Of What They Can’t Control
Having the goal of getting on the New York Times’ Bestsellers list may be impossible because you have no control over what people think about what you write.
So what do you have control over?
The process of making a New York Times’ Bestselling-worthy book.
Setting realistic goals is about keeping them within what you can control.
Your writing process, the amount of effort that you put into the book, and how much research you do are all within what you can control.
Interviewing 5 people or writing 500 pages is within your control and therefore more achievable.
Writing a book that will win awards and get worldwide acclaim is not, making it a more difficult target to aim for.
10. They Fail Fast And Keep Going
Nike founder Phil Knight has said, as advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, to “fail fast.”
When you know that the system you have for achieving your goals isn’t working, then don’t be afraid to switch gears and try something else.
Don’t take failure personally.
If you weren’t able to achieve your goal early, that just means that you have more time to come up with a better system for a better goal.
11. They Manage Their Emotions
Our emotions tend to govern most of what we do.
It augments our perspective and mindset.
When we see someone more successful than us on social media, it’s easy to compare ourselves with them.
We think that we aren’t doing well and don’t deserve the goal.
We wake up day in and day out, without feeling like we’re making progress, and then feel down about it.
Successful people know that struggle.
They understand that achieving their most ambitious goals will test their willpower and dedication.
Olympian Michael Phelps has said that there were times when he didn’t feel like wanting to go to practice.
But he then said that it’s on the days that you don’t feel like doing something that you make the most progress.
12. They Give It Their Best Every Day
Is that the best that you can do?
Doing your best doesn’t mean pulling a streak of all-nighters.
It also doesn’t mean that you should be achieving the same level of progress and efficiency that you reached yesterday.
Days are different. Life changes. Things might come up that stop you from being productive, but that’s okay.
If you have a goal to write a book, trying your best might look like eeking out a page or half a page in the day.
What’s important is that you are honest with yourself when you ask, “Is this the best that I can really do?”
At the end of the day, it will feel more rewarding knowing that you’ve given it your all rather than regret about how you could’ve done more.
Successful people have a bias towards action.
They learn enough to get started, and then get going.
They don’t hold back or worry about what others might think of them.
While others judge and critique them, they’re busy trying to make their dreams come true.
So now it’s your turn to go out there and start making yours come true too.
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