3 simple tips to help you achieve your goals

Setting goals is one of the easiest things to do, assuming of course that you don’t struggle with setting goals. But what happens after you set a goal is infinitely more important, and often much harder to do. Today, I want to share with you 3 simple tips to help you go from goal setter, to goal achiever. So come along with me as I dive in to this topic that so easily infuriates many of us.

If you’re anything like me, you can fill a notebook with all the goals you have set for yourself that have never been accomplished. The good news is, it’s not too late to start setting, and achieving manageable goals daily. For me, setting goals is a bit of a taboo topic. See, I know that there are things I want to accomplish on a daily, monthly, or even lifelong basis, but I have always struggled with articulating those goals into a coherent, identifiable message. If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn how you too can increase the frequency of success when it comes to achieving goals.

  • Imagine the most precise, desirable result, then write it down.

When I think about setting goals, my mind almost immediately travels to the “yeah but” universe. This is because I almost never write down what my desired result is, so I get lost in all the possibilities. This is dangerous for a couple of reason, chief among them being the fact that you will be a ship without a rudder. When we write down the goal, it accomplishes a couple of things at once; 1, it forces us to think through the “yeah buts” and arrive at the place we desire most, and 2, it allows us the opportunity to be as precise as we want from the beginning. Take for example a weight loss goal. Which one do you think has a better chance for success assuming all other variables are the same; the person who says to their buddy “yeah, I plan on losing a few pounds before bathing suit season.” Or the person who writes down “My goal is to lose 10-12 lbs. before May 15th. I will achieve this goal by increasing my exercise from weekly to daily and cutting back on my intake of sugary or carb heavy foods.”? I know where I would put my money.

This may seem like an obvious example, and that’s because it is. But I used this because it clearly illustrates the silliness of expecting a “wish” or “plan” to take shape if we just talk about it. Now admittedly, some people are better than others at articulating exactly what it is they want, but that does not mean that one can not learn how to be better. That may even be your first goal that you precisely articulate on paper.

  • Get really really good at failing and do it often.

I know this sounds like a bad idea but hear me out. One of the main reasons that anyone fails to achieve a personal goal, besides the aforementioned reason, is that they run into a speed bump or two. If you are not prepared for contingencies, they will almost certainly discourage you, sometimes badly enough to give up. That’s why it is so important for you to be your own worst critic and fail…on purpose. More accurately, fail on paper, before your plan is ever set in motion. Take some time to poke holes in your own plan. If you have trouble thinking outside the box, consider asking a close friend or spouse to help you think through it. The more possibilities that you can account for at this stage, the better your chances for success will be at later stages. And don’t be nice…necessarily. Take this opportunity to get out all the negative thoughts you carry around about yourself. Writing down the ways you can fail may even help you recognize some areas that you can work on for personal growth.

After this step, you should begin to see a plan emerging for how you will accomplish the stated goal. Keep in mind that all your previously mentioned “failures” will help you buffer yourself during this planning stage. Since you have already considered the ways that it might not work, you can more clearly imagine the ways that it can work.

  • Embrace the suck!

This tip is a phrase that I heard, at least weekly, when I served in the military. It served me well then, and it can do the same for you. The thing is, if you have come this far and are ready to put your plan in to action, then you are willing to accept the additional burden of embracing the suck. Don’t get discourage by the implication of the phrase. Instead focus one the opportunity you have to begin writing a new chapter for your life, one that involves you being a more productive you. Because if you have struggled thus far in accomplishing your goals, you are going to have to change some things to change the result.

When you begin, you are going to have a surge of energy and motivation. This is normal and serves an important purpose. But too often, once this initial surge is gone, we give up or lose focus. And for good reason. Who wants to keep doing something that they are not as interested in anymore when there are so many other things begging us for time and attention? The answer…you do! This is why you accomplished steps 1 and 2. Now that you have begun to implement your plan, and things are not going so well, you can look back at your sheet(s) of paper that has your hand-written plan on it. This will allow you to reconnect with the you that wrote down the goal in the first place. The you that thought through every conceivable hiccup and detour, and developed a plan of action to triumph over it.

Do not underestimate yourself. And do not ever compare yourself to others. The starting line to life is a moving target. There are no two people on this planet that are lining up precisely side by side in the game of life. Stay focused on your goals, and only look at someone else goal if you feel that you can help them along. It’s like I tell my kids, who tend to compare things with one another (e.g. looking at the others’ bowl of ice cream to compare amounts) The only reason you should be comparing, is to make sure the other has enough. Be grateful for where you are in life. You are not alive and well by accident. Celebrate your victories, but keep in mind no one else is obligated in any way to celebrate you, so don’t expect it.

My hope is that this article has provided you with a few simple tips that will help you achieve more in 2019. I would love to keep the conversation going. If you have any thoughts or questions regarding the content in this article, or any other questions for that matter, feel free to comment or email me.

Two truths and a…truth.

A taste of our trip to Colorado

    Anyone who tells you that succeeding in life is easy is either selling something or has set the bar for success so incredibly low that anyone with a pulse has better than a punchers chance at achieving it. While it’s true that success looks drastically different for everyone, there are some general guidelines that we use as a society to gauge it. Not all these ground rules will or should apply to you individually, and so it is important that you set your own standards for success. Below, I would like to expand on 3 truths I believe are crucial if you are going to be successful in your journey through life.

1. Perception is not reality

Too often in life, we use comparison as a unit of measure when it clearly shouldn’t be. The assumption is that if we see someone with relatively similar education and skills living a more successful life than we are, we are doing something wrong or have failed. This could not be further from the truth. For one, there is no way of knowing every detail of that persons personal life, or the sacrifices they have made unbeknownst to you to get to the place or position they are in. Secondly, how much of their perceived success is the embellishment of social media bias (that is to say, only showing people the pictures of their trip to pick your destination, but leaving out the crippling debt that they are now in). It’s the modern day equivalent of cleaning your house to spotless perfection before having guests over, knowing good and well you don’t live like that. Then, as soon as your guests leave, the closet door guarding all of the contents you crammed in it bursts open spilling in to the room. Knowing the truth that everyone has their own struggles that may not always be obvious to the observer will help you to keep your own situation in perspective.

2. Manage expectations

Save for a few prodigy’s around the world, no one picks up a skill or hobby and is instantly a top tier professional. There is a process inherent in the learning of a new skill that directly effects the end result. In the Army we called this the crawl-walk-run method, and it was highly effective. It was effective because it allowed the new recruits to build on the knowledge they learned at the start of training and gradually increase in skill and proficiency. Understanding your own limitations is vital to your overall success. If you pick up golf as hobby, and expect to be tour ready by the end of summer, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Golf doesn’t work that way, and neither will anything else. Be honest with yourself about your skill level and aptitude for learning, and you will be able to set more realistic and achievable goals.

3. Forget the failure

There are few things more frustrating than attempting something that you have been practicing for some time, only to have it end in failure. I enjoy watching speed runs on YouTube. The idea is that someone takes a video game, or specific stage of a particular game, and attempts to complete it in record time. Some of the records held are incomprehensible to me. The fact they the people attempting these records have memorized and choreographed every single input on the controller, for an entire game, is beyond belief. I have even seen some where they complete entire games blindfolded. But for every single video that is posted, there are hundreds upon thousands of failed attempts that will never be seen in most cases. When they fail, they don’t shut the game off and decide to learn needle point. No. They regroup, hit reset, and start over. The drive they have to be the best (fastest) is greater than their desire to quit in frustration. Being able to concisely assess your failure, learn what you can from it, and move on is a valuable skill to have. Understanding that failure is a part of any success story is one of the greatest truths you can hold on to.

In closing, don’t be discouraged if the success you seek seems out of reach. There is no secret to being successful. It is the continued effort in the face of adversity that will set you apart. Knowing this, you can move forward, confident that your mistakes will only serve as tools in your journey to grow and learn. What truths have you discovered in your own journey? I would love to hear some of them, and maybe they will help someone else reading this to recenter their focus, and redouble their efforts.