Want to Achieve Your Goals? Use These 4 Strategies
I’m a little odd. I enjoy setting goals and then get obsessed about trying to achieve them.
Every January, I set about five or six goals for the year ahead, and every three months I review these goals. I don’t always hit my goals, but I’ve learned a lot about how to focus on a goal over short (a month), medium (three months) and long-term (a year-plus) intervals.
I’ll presume you already know how to set goals. If you don’t, use a framework like the SMART goal system, which is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Actionable, Results-Orientated and Time-bound.
But, how can you focus on your goals after you’ve set them?
Keep Your Goals In One Place
Goals are intangible. They exist in your mind and wherever you wrote them down. (You did write them down?!)
I keep a list of my goals in Evernote. You could also choose a paperback notebook, spreadsheet or piece of paper.
If you want to focus on your current goals, keep a list of them in a single file on your computer or in a place where you look at the end of the week, month and year.
You should be able to see at a glance what your goal is, the metrics indicating your progress and the next action for pushing things forward. It’s a good idea to review your goals when evaluating what to add to and purge from you To Do list.
Simplify Your Goals
Write a book. Run a marathon. Launch a new product. Spend a year eating ramen while living on a beach in Goa, India.
You might want to achieve a lot of goals, but setting too many at once is a surefire way to dilute your focus.
Warren Buffett once told his pilot, Mike Flint, to pick 25 goals he wanted to achieve and then to focus on achieving five of them.
He said, “No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”
Remember, you have an entire lifetime to achieve your goals. If you try to cram two in at once, you’ll run out of time, resources and mental energy.
Instead, simplify your goals by focusing on just five or six goals that feel exciting and achievable within the medium or long-term.
Keep the rest of your goals on a someday/maybe list that you can draw from later on.
Refine Your Goals
Sometimes you’ll set a goal and achieve it several weeks later.
The goal in question probably wasn’t ambitious enough. After all, a good goal should take at least several months or even a year to achieve.
It’s also natural to set a goal that becomes impossible to achieve. For example, you might decide to start a new side business only to get a position at work that takes up your free time.
Instead of beating yourself up for not achieving the goal, reduce the target or remove it from your list.
Alternatively, take some advice from Peter Thiel. In Tools of the Titans, he told Tim Ferris, “What might you do to accomplish your 10-year goals in the next six months, if you had a gun against your head?”
As you get into the habit of refining your goals, you’ll become accomplished at figuring out what you can achieve and what’s unrealistic.
Hold Yourself to Account
Efficient managers hold reviews with their reports whereby both parties discuss progress toward a work goal.
Whether you’re working for a large company, for yourself or on yourself, commit to a regular check-in about your goals every Friday or Sunday evening.
Let’s say you want to create an online course and increase your business revenues.
On Friday, ask yourself how many lessons you outlined and recorded.
Even if you had an unproductive week, this simple act of checking in will help identify blockers and refocus on your goal for the following week.
At the end of the month, ask yourself when you can launch the course. And at the end of the quarter, consider if you need to update your goal targets or pick a new one.
After you launch the course, set a new goal that’s more ambitious or realistic.
Whether you’re interested in becoming more productive at work or outside of work, setting goals is critical. The trick is to learn how to focus on your goals then put steps in place to achieve them.