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In order to be successful, you need to set some goals. And we all want to be successful at something. Success makes us feel good and goals give meaning to our lives. When we strive for something, we have a direction in mind and we aim for more.
But sometimes, despite the motivation we feel in January and our desire to succeed, we fail. We procrastinate, we do the wrong things or – even worse – we simply give up. And yet, I think that we can achieve our goals. I’m not here to tell you that you can achieve anything you dream of. I won’t give you any false hope. Instead, I’m here to tell you that if you aim for the right things and create a good system of going after what you want, you’ll have a higher chance of success.
Here are a few steps that will help you increase your chances of achieving your goals!
1. Only set a few goals
I know that it’s tempting to make a long list of things you want to experience in 2020. But the longer the list is, the higher the chance that you will forget about it or not have the time or discipline to work on them.
And let’s be honest, if you write down 20 goals, are they equally important to you? Is going to Paris as important as, say, starting your own business or getting in shape? I’m sure that some goals matter more than others, so only focus on those you truly care about.
My advice is to choose one big goal you want to accomplish. Make sure this is the goal that would make a big, positive impact on your life. Choose the goal that is life-changing. If you want to, you can also add other goals, but I would say to set no more than 3 main goals. Once you achieve these, you can focus on others. But for now, less is more!
2. Set your goals the right way
Thinking about what you want and choosing 1-3 goals is the first step. Now you need to make sure you set your goals in a way that increases your odds of success. This means that your goals need to be clear, measurable and achievable.
You need to clearly define your goal. Otherwise, you won’t know if you’ve achieved it or not. If your goals is “to make more money” or “to build an audience”, you won’t be very successful at this. I’m sorry to tell you that, but you need to know exactly what you are aiming for. Your goals need to be more like this “get a job in marketing that pays more than x amount/month” or “create an Instagram account about fitness and post workout routines and meal ideas” and so on.
Make sure it is clear what you are trying to achieve. Otherwise, you probably won’t do much because you won’t even know what you really want. But a clear goal will inspire you and keep you on the right track.
Make sure your goal is measurable. This naturally follows from the previous step. If your goal is clear, you can usually make it measurable too. Try to find a way to measure your progress. You can do this by measuring outcomes (money earned, number of followers, books written) or the work you put in (number of workouts, time spent writing every day, number of cooked meals in a day).
In many cases the measure itself is not that important. But you should still track your progress because this shows you if you are making progress or not. Try to choose the best measure for your goal – the one that best reflects if you are making clear progress towards it or not.
Choose a goal that is achievable. I know motivational speakers will tell you that “anything is possible”, “dream big” and “the sky is the limit”. Well, let me break it to you, they’re only fooling you. They are telling you the message that everyone wants to hear: that you have limited potential and anything is possible.
Well, I hate to break it to you: there are limits to what you can achieve. The sooner you understand and accept this truth, the sooner you’ll increase your chance of working on the right thing and having a chance to achieve your goals. It’s much easier to understand limits and work with them than to ignore them until you smack into them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that we are capable of amazing things. But success is complicated and not everything is possible for everyone in every situation. For example, do you think you can make 1 million dollars in 2020? Maybe – if you own a successful business or you’re an investor. But can you do that if you’re still in college and have no marketable skills and poor discipline? Probably not. You can definitely try, but maybe a better goal would be to develop marketable skills that you will then use to make a lot of money.
One more thing about this though: you decide what is achievable for you. I’m sure that some people have a better situation than others. Some are more talented or hard-working than others – that’s just the way it is. So set the goal you think is achievable for you (based on reality) and work on that. Choose a goal that is big enough to inspire you but small enough that you can achieve it in a year.
3. Focus on building the habits you need for those goals
Setting the right goal the right way is not enough. This is probably why people seldom stick to their New Year’s Resolutions. But you can avoid making that mistake. After you set your goal, you need to focus on habits.
The only way you can achieve any goal is by repeatedly doing the activities that will lead to its achievement. It’s as simple as that.
Do you want to loose weight? Eat more vegetables and fewer calories at every meal.
Do you want to get in shape and build muscle? Work out a few times every week.
Do you want to have a popular Instagram account? Create quality content and post it every day or a few times a week.
Do you want to be an actor? Take an acting class, join a group of amateur actors and put on a play.
I can go on, but you get the point.
Once you know your goal, ask yourself: what are the activities I need to do to achieve that goal? Then turn that activity into a habit. Again, maybe you should start just with one habit and focus on it for a few weeks. Then, as you get used to it, add a new habit and so on.
I realized the importance of goals while reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. He said that “winners and losers have the same goals”. And what sets them apart is the systems and habits they have in place. Of course, building a good habit takes time, effort and discipline. But it ensures your success, so it’s a necessary step. Try to think about the habits you need to develop to achieve your goal and then focus on that. Results will surely follow. (And if they don’t, you need to analyze your goal and your plan and see what needs to be improved).
Whatever your goal is for 2020, I would recommend applying these steps. Even though they cannot guarantee success, I am sure they will help a lot. Truth to be told, I think success is more complex and more complicated than motivational gurus will ever admit. There are many factors involved and some matter more than others. We cannot achieve everything and we cannot control everything. But we should do our best and keep our goals in mind throughout the year.
Set some worthy goals and work on them every day. You’ll see how much your life can truly change in a year when you’re putting in the work and moving in the right direction!