How To Achieve Your Goals: 3 Steps

Achieve Your Goals

Are you shocked to discover how close it’s getting to the end of the year? But how close are you to being able to achieve your goals – for the year, the financial year, the quarter or even the month? 

If you’re in the minority, and you already have your goals, objectives and strategies totally under control, then relax. You are way ahead of the pack. We’ll talk later….

Who’s still here? 

Many of us are just keeping up. Some might have promising but unfinished projects  (I’m in that group). Some will have potentially good projects still stuck at the ‘vague ideas’ stage (I plead guilty to that, too).  

If you didn’t even plan much… well, there’s always next year. Read on, anyway. 

Move from ‘wishful thinking’ to ‘purposeful planning’

Whatever your situation, it’s always a good time for a bit of a nudge, to take you closer to achieving your goals.

Even though it’s something of a cliché, it’s true that ‘a plan without definite goals and strategies is just a wish list’.

Try following this process, step by step:

Step 1: Revisit your ‘wish list’
Wishin’ and hopin’ has its value… to a point.

Step 2: Prioritise (or prune) your wish list
You can’t do everything, so choose… thoughtfully.

Step 3: Convert your wishes into goals
Make your goals clear, then formulate objectives and strategies.

Here’s how to take those steps:

Step 1: Revisit your ‘wish list’

As Dusty Springfield used to sing: Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’… won’t get you (insert your goal).

wishin’ and hopin’ list is a good place to start, though.

Perhaps it’s clear in your head but hasn’t been articulated. It’s also possible you’ve never formulated it consciously – even in your thoughts. 

Many people plan for things because the plan itself seems attractive, or because someone else helps them to formulate it, or even because it appears to be the thing to do.

Before planning, it’s important to express the reason. The wish list is an essential starting point. It’s about what you – as a human being – really want.

How would you express what you would most like to achieve, or to have?

I like the ‘microphone in your face’ approach. Imagine someone stops you in the street, thrusts a microphone under your nose and asks the question: What’s on top of your wish list?

This approach is useful because it usually triggers spontaneous responses that are truegenuine, and represent a priority.

If you are already meticulously prepared and totally in control of your own situation, you’ll probably just say, ‘World peace’. 

Now write down all the answers you might give.

The list might include things like, ‘I wish I could improve sales’ or ‘I hope to get a better job and earn more’ or ‘I want more recognition’. 

As brilliant, and important, as all these things are, they are, however, only wishes.

Step 2: Prioritise (or prune) your wish list

This step sounds relatively simple: rearrange your wish list, in order of priority.

There are several things to consider, as you do (in no particular order):

  • The urgency of need
  • The importance in your life (only you can really evaluate that)
  • The net benefit (i.e. consider the time, energy and other costs)

Some wishes might need to be eliminated, or put on pause:

  • Is this wish within your control? You can wish for a Lotto win, but…
  • Do you genuinely have the necessary capacity? If not, building that capacity might be the wish instead (for now)
  • Is this wish too far down the priority list? You can look at it again later.

There’s no such thing as ‘overnight success’ or achievement by ‘wishing and hoping’. Now it’s time to make them concrete and achievable.

Step 3: Convert your wishes into goals

There are two major problems with ‘wish’, ‘hope’ and ‘want’ statements.

First, they are far too vague

They give no indication of what you must do to achieve your goals, nor the resources and time you will need to do it 

Instead: You need to question each of your statements minutely:

  • What is your precise target for improving sales? What are the numbers you have in mind? By what date?
  • When do you want ‘a better job’? What does ‘better’ look like? How will you go about securing it? How much more pay do you want? How will you demonstrate your worth?
  • How do you define ‘recognition’? What do you want to be recognised for? By whom? What must you do that you aren’t doing now?

And here’s the big question: 

  • What’s your plan to achieve your goals? 

Second, they focus only on the end result. 

This makes the goal seem huge and overwhelming. It also seems a long way away. You’re faced with such a ‘big ask’, you are far more likely to abandon the goal altogether.

Instead: Plan much smaller steps along the way to achieve your goals. 

  • Each step is important; you should be able to say why, and how it contributes to the final result
  • Each step takes time; you need to plan for it and schedule the necessary time blocks
  • Each step requires commitment; you have to be prepared to accept that, which means acknowledging other things might suffer.

This type of planning will reinforce (or prompt you to modify) your decisions about priorities in Step 2.

Now you have goals, you need to make sure they are SMART goals. 

Ask me for fact sheets and visual material on:

What Are SMART Goals?
Writing SMART Goals 
How To MOVE beyond SMART Goals

You might also like to read SMART Meetings For Smart Managers.

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