How to achieve goals? A 5-steps formula

how to achieve goals
How to achieve goals

The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. – Benjamin Mays

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.

Majority of the population have no clarity on how to achieve goals. For them it is nothing more than the process of simply writing down what you want to achieve, then taking the necessary steps towards those desired outcomes. This seems simple enough.

So why don’t most people achieve their desired outcomes? The problem is that they don’t follow the process of goal setting, which effectively outlines a progressive step-by-step plan of action that takes into consideration their current reality, breaks down potential obstacles and paves the way forward towards the desired outcomes.

Many people think that a goal should be something earth-shattering and important. That goals should be include significant change in finances, achieving some massive success or changing society in some important way. This is not true.

Major goals, like the one above, could be your goal, but goals are often much more personal. For example, one of my lifelong goals is simply to run a marathon in every state in the India. This goal combines my love of fitness and travel into one major goal.

Importance of achieving goals

Achieving your goals is an important step toward forward progression in life.  Without goals or a desire to move in a forward direction life takes on a motion of its own.  Often that motion is stagnant or backwards.  Achieving goals with positive mind control is the way that successful people reach their goals and move even further forward.

Types of goal setting and goal setting examples

There are 3 types of goal setting: Outcome based goals, process based goals, and performance based goals. Each of the 3 types differs based on how much control we have over it. We have the most control over process goals and the least control over outcome goals.

Outcome goals (Results) 

Outcomes goals are specific. For example, I will lose 30 lbs. While they give you a target, they don’t tell you how to reach it. As such, with most outcome goals, you can take steps that influence the outcome in your favor but the results are ultimately not under your control.

Process goals (Behaviors) 

Process goals are the strategies that will help us to perform well and increase our chances of achieving our desired outcome goals. E.g. The process goal for losing weight may include reducing calories, riding your bicycle, and drinking lots of water.  A nice thing about process goals is that they are within our control.

Examples:

  • I will excise 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for a period of one month.
  • I will eat only two meals per day for one month.

Performance goals (Standards)

Performance goals set the standards at which we will perform our process goals. This is focused on results. E.g. the performance goals for losing weight based on the process goals above may be to lose weight by eating 1200 calories a day or less, riding my bike for 30 minutes 5 times per week, and drinking 3 liters of water at per day for a period of one month.

Goals can be categorized according to time into short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Long-term goals help motivate and focus us on the big picture. However, they can seem too big and too far removed. It is advisable to break down the long-term goal into smaller short-term and mid-term goals and to celebrate when they meet those small milestones on the way to the final outcome goal. E.g. a goal to lose 60 lbs in one year can be broken down to 5 lbs per month and 30 lbs in 6 months.

Goal setting process

The goal setting process involves drawing up a plan of action for the accomplishment of your goal. Your plan of action does not necessarily need to be detailed. It just needs to give you some direction. Many people go wrong is that they create such a detailed plan of action that when it comes to the implementation, they soon get bogged down in the details and end up giving up on their goal prematurely.

What are the 5 steps of goal setting and achievement?

Let us understand in detail about what the 5 steps of goal setting and achievement are.

Step 1: Define What You Want

Your first step is to get very clear about what it is you would like to achieve. The goal itself doesn’t really matter. What matters is that while setting these goals what specifically do you want?

Step 2: Find Congruence

Your next step is to explore the level of congruence that this goal has with your values, lifestyle, and with any other goals that you’re currently working on. While setting goals, most people will create this beautiful picture of their desired outcomes. They’ll set deadlines and even generate enough reasons for pursuing each goal. However, in the long-run, they’ll still fail to accomplish their goal because of a lack of congruence.

Step 3: Do an Ecology Check

Often, when people set a goal they only think about the present and fail to address the impact that their goal will have on the future. This can lead to significant problems down the line when they witness firsthand the consequences their results.

Step 4: Develop a Blueprint

A blueprint will help you get clear about the obstacles you may potentially face and the resources you may need. It will also present you with ideas on how you can leverage your environment to help you accomplish your goal.

Step 5: Drawing Up a Plan of Action

The final step of the goal setting process involves drawing up a plan of action for the accomplishment of your goal.

Time Management and Goal setting

Developing a goal-oriented approach to time management can help you achieve success in two ways. The first is that you are no longer watching the clock and waiting for the day to end so you can go home. When you set goals for yourself, you are driven by those goals and the clock becomes an instrument you use to ensure that you meet your deadlines.

time management and goal setting
Time management and goal setting

The other advantage to using goals to manage time is that you are able to accomplish more in a day than you could when you were watching the clock.

When we base our performance on reaching goals during the day, we can eliminate the things that waste time such as extended phone conversations and internet surfing.

SMART Goal setting

Let us understand what is SMART Goal setting? SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.

SMART goal setting
SMART goal setting

SMART goals are:

Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous

Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal

Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve

Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose

Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency.

Advantages of Goal setting

Following are the major advantages of goal setting

  • Goals provide direction, and focus
  • Goals give a sense of personal satisfaction
  • Goals help maintain motivation, especially during setbacks
  • Goals set a realistic timeline for goal accomplishment
  • Goals provide a better understanding of expectations
  • Goals give clarity to decision making
  • Goals prevent clients from feeling overwhelmed

How to achieve goals faster?

When we set a goal, we’re setting a goal because we think there’s going to be emotional, financial, physical, spiritual pleasure, right? However, a brain that’s focused on avoidance of pain soon puts the brakes on our excitement and we return to what we are used to doing.  We resort to feel safe and stuck in the comfort zone. 

How to achieve goals
How to achieve goals faster

To be aware of this fact is crucial. When you’re aware of the way your brain functions, you can observe the chatter and you can learn to start making decisions based on this awareness.

Recommended Books

books on goal setting
Books on goal setting

I found following five books on goal setting very useful.

  1. Creating Your Best Life, by Caroline Miller
  2. S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple, by S.J. Scott
  3. The Selfish Guide to Success, by Nicholas Caldwell
  4. Goals!, by Brian Tracy
  5. Put Your Dream to the Test, by John C. Maxwell

Concluding Thoughts

Whether we acknowledge it or not, goal setting and achieving are without a doubt a fundamentally important aspect of our lives.

When we choose not to consciously set goals, we tend to be pulled by the seas and the winds of change in unpredictable ways. These winds take us down unexpected currents and paths that often lead to misery and pain. However, when we choose to take control of the sails and harness the powers of the wind we subsequently take charge of our direction and ultimate destiny.

When you set goals, you take reigns and ultimately control the next chapter of your life. You just need to decide on the destination.

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