How to Achieve Goals in 5 Steps

By Tim Norton


1. Visualize life on the other side

If you want to achieve a goal, you’ve got to really see and feel the way life will be when its achieved. Goals define a point where things clearly change, a point in time where you know you’ll be able to do things differently because of the platform the goal has created. There are so many things that we should do, but there’s a reason we should but never do them, they don’t mean anything to us emotionally or we haven’t found how they get us going. Quite often there’s a scenario you can see in your minds eye that makes you excited and makes you smile, the way life could be if we could just get to this point, thats the gold! Get clear on what that point is, thats your goal, Put the scenario down in words, get a picture that reminds you it, write it down, and throw it into PlanHQ

2. Get Commitment

A goal is only as good as the people who are going to make it happen, so everyone needs to feel the love of the outcome and agree to when its going to happen. Ideally get as many people as possible involved in visualizing the outcome, different people will have different outcomes that make achieving the goal worth while. If you’re a team, the best goals are ones you all want. If you’re the main leader of the goal, then you would have been assimilating all the ideas and thinking of others in the team and set a goal that you know everyone will love.

3. Break it into bits, its action time

When you see the goal, the point in the future where life is that much cooler, think of all the things that lie between now and then. Throw down any that come to mind, add them as actions against the goal, and try and put in a realistic time that you can do them by. A goal is something big, and something that really gets you and you team emotionally charged up, but some of the things you’ll have to do to get there are less exciting, but have to be done, use the buzz of knowing that if you do them you’ll reach your goal be your driving force to get things don

4. Start Now and make constant Progress

We’ve all heard there’s no time like the present, and there’s a reason for this. There’s only one thing worse than not setting goals, its setting a goal and leaving it to sit in words and and idealand. When you’re charged up on your goal, use this energy to to do the first thing you can do. If you want to have that feeling that you will achieve your goal, then make some progress. Everytime you do one thing towards your goal, you send a clear signal to yourself, this goal is important and I’m already on the path to getting there.

5. Celebrate Success

Its too easy to keep adding more things into a goal, and to keep expanding it. This is natural, because as you make more progress, your mind will reward you by letting you see further into the future, as it trusts that what it shows you, you will do. But seeing the next step ahead is just one reward for making progress on achieving your goals, you also have to remember just how far away achieving the goal once was, when you first set it, and feel the gap you’ve closed. Acknowledge your success, you’ve all worked hard to achieve the goal, so enjoy hitting it and take some space to enjoy it!

New Feature: Reorder Subgoals

Just wanted you to know that we launched a new feature last weekend. Now you are able to reorder the subgoals of a main goal by any order you like.  We removed the “Change Picture” button, and added a “Reorder Subgoals” button on Goals page. You can still change your goal picture by clicking the picture next to the goal details.

When you reorder subgoals, it will be mostly the same as you do with main goals, simply drag and drop the subgoal titles and click the “Done …” button when the new order is ready. Here is a screenshot how it may look like:

We also made a small change to the email reminder settings, so that now you can put more than one email address to receive these reminder notifications.

What are You Going to be Exceptional at in 10 Years?

By Scott H Young

Many people set the right goals, but the wrong deadlines. They want to become a professional blogger, but set a deadline of 6 months, instead of 6 years. This short-term thinking detracts from the big picture, where becoming really good at something takes at least a decade, not just 18 months.

“Freedom and success isn’t about taking big risks. It’s about becoming good enough at something society values, so you can dictate the terms for how you live your life.” This was something productivity blogger Cal Newport related to me.

He said that he only knew a few examples of people who had reached success because of unconventional risk-taking. However, he said he knew many people that have tremendous personal freedom because they became exceptionally good at something the world values.

Where’s Your Next Decade Going?

Malcolm Gladwell puts the mark at 10,000 hours. That’s a decade of work investing three hours to develop a skill, every day, for almost every week of the year. This is the number of hours it takes to become exceptional at something. Whether it’s writing, programming, music, research or dentistry.

Ten thousand might not be the exact number. For you it might be 8000, or 16,000. What matters isn’t the exact number, but the kind of long-term thinking that goes along with it. Instead of asking yourself how you will reach a goal in 18 months. Figure out where you’re going to spend your next decade.

My Next Ten Years

For my next decade, I’d like to work on becoming good at two things: writing and online micro-entrepreneurship. Writing, because even if I don’t decide to sustain myself as a full-time writer it is a potent skill. Micro-entrepreneurship, because it’s my biggest passion and I enjoy the challenges of running a small enterprise more than what I’ve seen from friends who’ve built larger ventures.

So far, I’ve put in a little over three years on each of these skills. But, I fully expect it to take at least another ten to become exceptionally good at them.

That’s why I refuse to get frustrated if I don’t make immediate progress or I don’t start earning six-figures immediately. Because I’m still far back on the curve and have a number of years to invest before I can become exceptional.

“What if I don’t know where to invest the next decade of my life?”

I’m lucky because I’ve found something I consider rewarding, and society values enough that I’m able to make a profit off of it. Many people are stuck on one of either sides. Either they know what they love, but society doesn’t value it. Or they know what society values, but they don’t get any joy creating it.

First, becoming exceptionally good can allow you to enjoy something more. Some of the dissatisfaction with a pursuit comes from a lack of skill. I enjoy writing far more now than I did when I started, because I’m able to produce something I feel is of a decent quality. Exceptional ability can often produce a passion.

Second, becoming exceptionally good allows you to dictate the terms of sustaining your life. If you are an exceptionally good accountant, you don’t need to do routine book-keeping. You can work as a consultant, getting paid hundreds of dollars an hour to travel while working infrequently.

A lot of work dissatisfaction comes from the things other than work itself. Bosses, staying inside an office, corporate culture, busywork, constant demands placed on your time and stress. Becoming exceptional affords you the opportunity in many cases to dictate the terms of all the other things associated to work.

Don’t Ask What You’re Passionate About

Passion, can be a Catch-22. Often you need to have invested the hours to become good at something in order to build a passion. Skill produces the feedback that makes work enjoyable. Basketball isn’t fun if you’re awful at basketball. Writing isn’t fun if you feel self-conscious about every sentence. Programming isn’t fun if every compilation produces bugs.

So, instead of asking what you’re passionate about, ask yourself what you could become exceptionally good at that society values. Then, expect to spend the next decade becoming exceptionally good at it.

How to Turn Your Dream Into a Plan In Five Simple Steps

By Ali Luke

I’m sure you have plenty of dreams for your life. They might bubble away at the back of your mind. They might loom in your thoughts all day. They might even keep you awake at night.

Dreams can be powerful, encouraging and even a bit scary. A dream alone, though, isn’t going to get you far.

What you need is a plan.

And if that sounds too boring, think of it this way: if you want to actually have that dream, a plan is the map that gets you there.

Here are five steps for turning that vague dream into a concrete plan:

Step #1: Write Down Your Dream

How many of your dreams have you actually written down?

Perhaps the idea of committing your dreams to writing is a little frightening. Don’t resist doing it. The act of putting something into words on paper (or in a computer document) suggests that you’re committing to it – and this can be very powerful in helping you eventually achieve that dream.

Even better, when you write something down, you’re forced to think it through. That vague dream of “have lots of money” has to become something firmer – perhaps “make $100,000/year” or “have $200,000 in the bank”.

Step #2: Brainstorm Some Possibilities
Whatever your dream, there’s more than one way to reach it. For instance, if you want to make lots of money, you could:

  • Change careers to something more lucrative
  • Work harder in your current job to get a promotion
  • Go back to college and study for a degree
  • Start up your own business as an entrepreneur
  • Save up money and put it into a high-interest account
  • Marry someone rich
  • Buy a winning lottery ticket

There are lots of possibilities (and I hope you can see that some of those ones are a bit more realistic than others!)When you’re brainstorming, include all the ideas that come to mind – even ones which seem silly or impractical. You might find that a “stupid” idea leads you on to a really good one.

Step #3: Pick One Clear Goal

Once you’ve figured out some possibilities, come up with one clear goal. You might decide, for instance, that your goal is to change to a particular career which will give you a $80,000/year paycheck.

Look for a goal which is perhaps challenging, but achievable. There’s no point in picking a goal which you’re convinced you can’t really manage – that’s just going to put you back in the world of dreams, where you constantly think about a better future without taking any action towards getting there.

Step #4: Give Yourself a Deadline

It’s much easier to hit your goals when you’re working towards a deadline.

Again, you want to be realistic here – but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a little. If you’ve got a really big goal, you might want to look two – five years ahead. With smaller goals, you can probably achieve them within a year.

With the example of changing career, you might decide that three years is a realistic timeframe. It’s often helpful to tie your deadline to a particular event – perhaps your 40th birthday or Christmas 2014.

Step #5: Write Down the Steps to Get You There

And now we’re onto the plan itself. This is where you really get into the nitty-gritty and start turning that dream into something real.

With big goals, it’s often helpful to work backwards. So:

  • What are the job requirements of that new career?
  • How can you achieve them (e.g. take night classes)?
  • Are there any pre-requisites for that (e.g. you need some money to pay for the classes)?
  • How can you do that?

You should be able to get to a clear step which lets you move forwards from where you are, such as “save $20/week for six months”.

If you have any steps which you don’t know how to complete, try breaking them down further. Figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve your dream – and you’ve got a plan which really can change your life.

A Theory of Goal Setting

Overview

People have been setting goals for thousands of years. For most of this time, evidence for the effectiveness of a particular goal-setting system was anecdotal. Now, researchers take advantage of the scientific method and principles of psychology to formulate sound systems of goal-setting. One such theory was developed by Professor Edwin Locke of the University of Maryland in the late 1960s.

Clarity

Your goals must be clear, because if they are not, there will be no way for you to measure your progress or even to know when you have achieved them. Use numbers whenever appropriate. You should also set deadlines for completion, according to Locke and Gary P. Latham, Professor of Organizational Effectiveness at the University of Toronto. “Reduce employee absenteeism in the Marketing Department to 2 percent” is an example of a clear goal.

ChallengeIf your goals are too easy, they will fail to motivate you because even if you achieve them, you won’t have accomplished much. Your motivation will also flag if your goals are too difficult, because you will lose confidence in your ability to achieve them, and your goal progress will fail to meet benchmarks. Find the “challenge zone” between too easy and too difficult.

Commitment

Goals enhance performance most effectively when you are highly committed to your goal, according to Locke and Latham. Two factors that will enhance your commitment to your goals are the magnitude of the gain that you expect to achieve from it, and your confidence that you will be able to achieve it. Without either of these, your commitment will be weak, although this may not become evident until times get tough.

Feedback

To maintain your confidence and build a sense of accomplishment, you must build feedback into your goals, according to Mindtools.com. In addition to formulating specific goals, you must constantly monitor your progress. You should write your goal statements in a journal and keep track of how you are doing. One way to enhance this process is to break your goals into mini-goals that you can achieve weekly or even daily. If your goal is to run 10,000 meters in less than 40 minutes, for example, you might set deadlines by which you expect to be able to run this distance in 44 minutes, 43 minutes, and so on.

Task Complexity

Many goals involve a complex set of sub-steps. When faced with a complex goal, be sure to build into the process sufficient time to learn the skills you will need to be successful. If your goal will take a long time to achieve, it is likely that you will be able to work more quickly towards the end of the period than at the beginning, because you will have had more time to master the necessary skills. Take the learning curve into account when setting goal deadlines.

Entrepreneurs Need Self-Discipline and Real Goals

Successful entrepreneurs are usually hard-driving, and highly focused on some specific goals, like being the dominant player in a given domain, or the low-priced provider of their product. Yet other entrepreneurs will talk for hours about all their ideas, and how they intend to change the world, but I don’t hear any specific goals or milestones.

Many people are very hesitant to set specific goals, due to lack of self-confidence or whatever. The result is that they don’t ever get anywhere, because they never really knew where they wanted to go. If you find yourself in this category, try the following simple steps highlighted by Brian Tracy in “No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline”:

  • Decide exactly what you want. If you want to increase your income, decide on a specific amount of money, rather than just “make more money.” Without precise goals, you can’t measure progress, and you miss the real satisfaction of knowing when to declare success.

  • Write it down. A goal that is not written down is like cigarette smoke; it drifts away and disappears. It is vague and insubstantial. It has no force, effect, or power. It’s too easy to forget or push aside when outside forces arise that you hadn’t anticipated – and they will. On the other hand, most people don’t hesitate to write down excuses.

  • Set a deadline with specific milestones. Pick a reasonable time period and write down the date when you want to achieve it. If it is a big enough goal, set intermediate milestones for measurement reference points. The rule is “There are no unrealistic goals; there are only unrealistic deadlines.” Don’t be afraid to change the deadline – for cause.

  • Make a list of things you need to do to achieve your goal. The biggest goal can be accomplished if you break it down into enough small steps. Make a list of obstacles and difficulties, knowledge and skills required, necessary people, and everything you will have to do to meet the goal. Add to these lists as you learn more.

  • Organize your list by both sequence and priority. A list organized by sequence requires that you decide what you need to do in what order. A list organized by priority enables you to determine what is more important. Then develop a business plan which embodies all of the above.

  • Take action on your plan immediately. Don’t delay. Move quickly. Procrastination is the thief of time, and it shortens your life. Winners in life take the first step now. They are willing to overcome their normal fear of failure and disappointment, and take a small step, and then other one, until they reach the goal.

  • Do something every day that moves you in the direction of your major goal. This is the key step that will guarantee your success. Do something every day that moves you at least one step closer to the goal. In this fashion, you develop momentum, which further motivates, inspires, and energizes you. Soon it becomes automatic and easier.

You can’t control the future, and that’s not the purpose of goal setting. It’s also a recipe for failure to assume that the path to your goal will require suffering and sacrifice. In fact, the whole objective of all steps above is to allow you to avoid stress and suffering, and be more fully motivated by your progress.

As you adopt a goal-setting mindset, you will find yourself setting different kinds of goals. These are lifetime goals, not just a collection of near-term objectives. It’s these really big objectives, that seem unachievable even to you right now, that will inspire you the most, and motivate you to real success and happiness.

Marty Zwilling

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