Like many of you, I have plenty of goals I’d like to achieve this year and in the years to come. In the past I’ve really struggled with staying focused on long range goals, the big, scary ones that night take 5, 10 or even 20 years to acheive.
Long-term goals have always been challenging for me, as they can be for anyone! This year, however, I’m more committed than ever to staying focused on my goals, big and small, so I can achieve what I set out to.
My problem is typically setting large goals without developing an actionable plan to reach them. I often get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, which causes procrastination or just giving up on them all together. I tend to overthink them and get stuck in the “how” rather than just getting started.
In my reading over the past few weeks, I’m come across some really great techniques for helping you achieve your goals and I wanted to share them with you. These techniques can be applied to any goal, large or small, health-related or otherwise.
I’m sure you’ve heard of visualization before but recently I read a great tip for really honing in this technique. Instead of just visualizing or imagining yourself accomplishing your goals, visualize yourself completing the actual steps you need to take to achieve it.
Try to spend at least 5-10 minutes every day visualizing. Visualize not only what it feels and looks like to reach your goal but really picture yourself doing the steps needed to reach it.
2. Schedule a time and a place to work on your goals.
When there are little, or big, things that need to be done, schedule a time and a place for when you’re going to get them done. Setting that intention with not only a specific time but a specific place increases the chances that you’ll stick to your plan. Write it down in your day-planner or set a reminder in your phone and stick to that commitment. Even if it’s just a 15 minute task, those can add up to some serious productivity over time.
3. Think backwards.
Once you know exactly what your goal is and what it looks like, start working backwards to develop a plan to reach it. If your goal will take one year to acheive, what has to happen along the way to get there? Step by step work backwards until you’ve written down all the actionable steps you need to take in order to achieve your goal, then make it happen.
4. Commit to doing one thing every day that will move you toward your goal.
In the past I’ve gotten overwhelmed with big goals and all the little things that have to be done to complete them. Now I break them down in to the smallest steps I can think of and I do at least one thing every day that will help move me toward it. You don’t have to do 40 things a day, instead focus on small, consistent steps and work on them daily. Those small things, done consistently, will add up to big things in the long term.
5. Declare it!
Try describing your goals from the perspective of the future. Start out with, “Today is April 25, 2025. In the last 10 years I’ve….”. Be really specific. What does it feel like? What does it look like? Come back to that often. What would have to happen in that 10 years for you to be able to look back and feel like you achieved what you set out to?
You can do this for 6 months in the future, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or whatever time frame works for you. Write yourself that letter and re-visit it as needed motivation. Remember, the more you visualize it, believe it, focus on it and then take action, the higher the chance you have of getting there.
6. Just start.
This has always been my biggest struggle with achieving goals. I can be easy to get stuck overthinking the “how and why” instead of just starting and figuring it out along the way.
I heard a really great analogy recently to help with this. If you want to reach a new destination in your car, you enter the address into the GPS, you put the car in gear and go! You don’t know how you’re going to get there but you know that your GPS will show you the way, and eventually you’ll arrive at your destination. You can think about your goals the same way. If you have a big, scary goal and you have no idea how you’re going get there, just start with the first step, then the next, then the next. Trust and believe in yourself and the universe will point you in the right direction as you go. Just take that first step.
I also find that once I get started, I’m actually really productive. Once you’re over the hump of starting, the ball it rolling and it’s a lot easier to keep it going.
You have to move and if you go the wrong way, that’s okay, just go! Trust the process. Plus there’s that whole, “the most important thing about a goal is who you become in the process” thing.
7. Face the fear.
Anyone that has achieve a big goal their life, most certainly failed along the way, probably many, many times. Brian Tracy said if you want to speed up your rate of success, you should double your rate of failure. The real failure would be in not even trying. Going for it and making a mistake a long the way? That’s success. I think successful people are afraid just like the rest of us but they just had the courage to face the fear and do it anyways. Another great suggestion I heard on this lately was, instead of always saying, “What’s the worst that could happen?” say to yourself, “What’s the best that could happen?”
Now, the big question. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Awesome, now do it anyway.
8. Keep your goals top of mind.
It’s important to remind yourself of your goals daily. I’d recommend making a vision board with images, quotes and reminders, or whatever motivates you and keeping it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Motivation is like a muscle that needs to be put to work regularly to stay strong but the good news is, is it can be strengthened. Keeping your goals in focus, front and centre, makes it a lot easier to flex that motivation muscle day after day, month and month and have the persistence it takes to reach long-term goals.
I hope those 8 tips and techniques help to get working on whatever goal you have in front of you. Remember, whatever you focus your attention on, day after day, eventually becomes your reality. What you think and what you say are powerful, so try to keep your words and thoughts positive, encouraging and optimistic.
Dream big. Stay focused. Be persistent. Be afraid but do it anyway. If you want it bad enough, you will a way to make it happen. The only thing that stands between you and the life of your dreams are the thoughts, words and actions you choose between now and your arrival.
When you’re dreaming up goals for yourself, allow yourself to go all out. There are no barriers, anything is possible. Choose some realistic goals and choose some that scare the crap of out you. Write down anything and everything that excites you, in any area of your life. Have some fun with it!
You know all that power of positive thinking, thoughts are things, visualization, belief, trusting the universe, hippie stuff? Well, it if you just take action, it really works. Give it a try! It really is powerful stuff
Infinite Possiblities: The Art of Living Your Dreams by Mike Dooley
The Purpose Principles by Jake Ducey
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Fear Cure by Lisa Rankin
E2 by Pam Grout