How to Set and Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals
You’re a failure.
At least that’s what you tell yourself after bailing on your goals for the millionth time. But is it really you that’s a failure? Or is it your method to creating and achieving your goals that’s the problem?
In this article, I want to enhance your goal-setting process by using a simple five-step formula:
- Define what’s important to you
- Define what’s REALLY important to you
- Make macro goals micro goals
- Compound small actions
- Review, learn, and adjust
Note: This formula was heavily influenced by the book “Power of Focus” by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you check it out.
Another note: if you don’t want to read the whole article, there is a summary of the most important steps at the bottom
Define What’s Important to You
“The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself” — Tony Robbins
The first step to this process is to envision your ideal life. What would you do? What would your job be? What languages would you speak? Where would you live?
Asking yourself these big, albeit uncomfortable questions gives you a destination. Like plugging an address into Google Maps. Once you know where you want to go, you just have to select your path to get there.
Set one day aside in the next week or so. Don’t schedule anything. Open up this document I made for you, and write out 101 things that YOU want to do in your life. I recommend creating goal categories that are better suited to you as an individual.
Note: for you to edit this document, all you have to do is click the link above, then click File > Make a copy.
At this point in time, they don’t have to be specific; in fact,they shouldn’t be. We’ll focus on refining in the later steps. For now, just focus on writing out 101 general goals. Here are a couple examples to help you out:
- Make my own wine
- Live in Europe
- Take cooking classes
Keep in mind that this has to be an incredibly personal experience. It can’t be based on what your friend Rachel has done. It shouldn’t be based on what John’s travel blog says to do. It must be based on what YOU want to do. It’s okay to get motivation from different places, but ensure that each and every one of these things are important to you.
Because when you face a series of 37 soul killing hurdles that appear out of no where (and you will), the only thing that’s going to get you through it is your desire to achieve what is most important to YOU.
Define What’s REALLY Important to You
You went from wandering around aimlessly to having 101 things in your life that you genuinely want to accomplish. Awesome!
But not awesome enough.
Spreading your focus across 101 goals is a surefire way to attain nothing. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is trying to accomplish too many goals at the same time.
That’s why in this step we must shift our focus from all 101 goals to a few important goals.
Examine those 101 general goals you set for yourself. Go through them and select 10 of the most important ones. Then go through those and select the most important 5. Ideally, you should be able to complete these goals within the next year.
After you’ve selected your 5 goals, you have to convert the “I’ll do it someday” bucket list to an actionable set of instructions.
How do we do that?
Easy. All we have to do is create specific goal statements. These statements include three things:
- an “I will”
- a goal, and
- a date
Let’s use examples from the last section to make our specific goal statements.
Make my own wine
Live in Europe
Take cooking classes
Specific Goal Statements:
I will make my own wine by July 25th, 2019
I will move to Portugal by September 1st, 2019
I will enroll in cooking lessons by August 15th, 2019
It may not seem like a big deal to do this, but I promise you it is. You just took a dream that you’d likely never accomplish and turned it into a goal that you’ll accomplish at a specific point in time.
Perfect. You have your destination, you have your timeline — now you just have to select the route.
Make Macro Goals Micro Goals
This is usually when you fail, isn’t it? You’ve written out your goals. You may have even written out a specific goal statement. But you find yourself struggling to execute. Why is this such a common place to fail?
As Tony Robbins says, “complexity is the enemy of execution”.
When we look at our greater (macro) goal, it can be quite intimidating. It’s complex. It seems so far away. Because of this, we resort to making excuses and fail to execute.
The solution? Turn your complex macro goal into simple micro goals.
Let’s break down the specific goal statement we made above regarding moving to Portugal. For this, I’m going to use the Goal Breakdown tab in this document.
To start this process, I list a few different categories pertaining to the goal. In the example of moving to Portugal, I include categories like money, living, length of stay, visas, work, and flight info.
The next step is to write down any questions or tasks you can think about doing. The more simplistic the tasks/questions, the better. These are going to be the small actions that you take every day until you achieve your larger goal.
Compound Small Actions
Have you ever heard of compound interest? If not, let me break it down for you.
You have $10,000. Every month you grow that money by 5%. After the first month, you have $10,500 ($10,000 x 5% = $500), then the next month you have $11,025 ($10,500 x 5% = $525), and the month after that you have $11,576.25 ($11,025 x 5% = $551.25). This repeats on and on. If you were to do this for 12 months straight, your original $10,000 would be worth $17,958.56. That’s nearly 80% more money than you had one year ago.
So how does this apply to your goals?
Let’s start by assigning you a value of 1. Essentially, the higher the number, the better you are. Right now, you’re as awful as can be.
Say you make a change in your daily life that makes you 1% better than you were yesterday. In this case, you do one of those micro goals per day. After day one, your value increases to 1.01 (1 x 1% = 0.01). You do this repeatedly for 365 days. Your new value after one year is 37.78. In other words, you’re 378% better than you were last year. Do this again for another year and you’re 14,276% better than you were when you started.
That’s the power of compounding. That’s the power of doing small things repeatedly.
Let’s jump into the 10-Week Focusing System tab on our goal sheet to start planning out our weeks.
You’re going to want to fill out as much of it as you possibly can. Be specific. Be reasonable. Don’t pack your week with 40 hours of work if you only have 10 extra hours. Make the weekly tasks simple and enjoyable.
As you knock down each goal, you know that you are one step closer to your vision. You will find an incredible sense of fulfillment in achieving these micro goals. Stick with it, stay consistent, and remember the power of compounding.
Review, Learn, and Adjust
You’re driving through unknown territory. You miss a turn and Google Maps starts to recalculate. This is exactly what you need to do on your journey to achieving your goals.
I can promise you right now that success is not linear. Closed roads pop up. Traffic keeps you at a standstill. Your tire explodes. It’s the way of the road.
Rather than beating yourself up or blaming life, you need to recalculate your route. Adjust with the dynamic conditions of life, and continue on your path to success.
Do you know how many times I’ve created a plan (using the document above) and had to adjust it? More times than I’m proud to admit.
Something significant popped up in my life recently. It changed my original path. I had to reflect on my goals, recalculate my route, update my plan, and continue on my journey.
That’s the beauty about having a destination. When you know where you’re going, you can continuously venture down different routes until you find the one that gets you to where you want to go.
That’s basically it!
All I can say now is to stick with your plan. Don’t give up. Marginally improve every day. Stay consistent.
Do these things and you are tilting the probabilities of success drastically in your favour.
You have the attention span of a goldfish. I get it. Here is a summary of all the steps above (Use this document for all the steps in this article):
Define what’s important to you
- Take a day to isolate yourself. Write down a list of 101 general things you want to accomplish in your lifetime (ie: make wine, move to europe).
Define what’s REALLY important to you
- You can’t focus on 101 goals at the same time, so limit them down to 5 goals that you want to achieve in the next year
- Write down a specific goal statement that is structured like this: “I will *insert specific goal* by *insert date*
- ie: “I will move to Portugal by September 1st, 2019”
Make macro goals micro goals
- Break down your larger goal into smaller goals that you can complete daily/weekly (examples given above)
Compound small actions
- Focus on staying consistent and getting 1% better every day. If you do this, you’ll be 378% better after one year
Review, learn, and adjust
- Learn from your mistakes, update your plan, and continue testing out different paths until you find the one that leads to your destination