Q: How can I best set myself up for success to crush my goals?
A: Napoleon Hill said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Many people dream of the things they want to accomplish, but if there isn’t a deadline attached, it can become more of a nightmare. Take, for example, this dream: I want to save some money. It’s respectable, but it lacks two important elements that would make it achievable: a timeline and a measurable goal. Instead it should be something like, I am going to save $2,500 in the next three months.
Define the specific action steps you will take, including how you will measure your results, so you can keep track of your progress. If it’s a long-term goal, try creating intermediate and short-term goals that will assist you in reaching your ultimate objective. Breaking it down into smaller steps makes the process more manageable—and the larger goal less intimidating—while also giving you boosts of motivation along the way. When you precisely understand what you desire, you increase your chances of success. This is also true when you truly believe in your goals.
Have you ever thought about doing something and realize you really have no interest in actually starting it, let alone completing it? At the beginning of the year, people set New Year’s resolutions and most never achieve them. Why? Because it’s easy to think about doing something, but if you don’t see the value in it, it’s hard to get yourself to do anything about it. When you believe in something, it gives you the freedom to focus on it—to carve out time to make plans and develop new skills. It also makes it possible for you to believe in yourself and your ability to succeed—a critical mindset for creating and sustaining your motivation.
Although visualizing your success is important, you must also keep in mind that most goals worth achieving require lots of time, planning, effort and persistence. Ask yourself whether your goal is realistic. Is it feasible for you to accomplish? Focus on what you can do, not what you wish you could do.
How you set and define a goal has a huge impact on the outcome. One way to evaluate your goals is to use the SMART goal framework:
Specific – You have a much greater chance of accomplishing a specific goal than a general one. Increasing your income is generic; increasing your income by 45% by establishing three passive revenue streams is specific.
Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress. To determine whether your goal is measurable, ask questions like, How will I know I’m advancing? and How will I know when I am done?
Action-Oriented – Break down your goal into smaller, actionable steps to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. Each objective should move you closer to achieving your ultimate goal without feeling like an unattainable step.
Realistic – Avoid setting unreasonable expectations. Personal and situational factors may influence your ability to reach a goal. Don’t be afraid to set a high goal, but make sure that it’s attainable, too.
Time Bound – A goal should specify when it will be achieved. Create a timeline for yours. Keep in mind, a positive mindset can overcome a lot of obstacles. But no one is perfect, and you’re going to have days where you just don’t do what you set out to accomplish. Remain committed to the goal and believe in yourself, and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by @Korneevamaha/Twenty20