How to Actually Achieve Your Goals in 2017
Most people have a love-hate relationship with goals. On the one hand, it feels great to think about everything you want in life, and how you’re going to go get it. But when it’s actually time to have “the rubber hit the road,” most of us struggle.
No matter how frustrated you get, or how impossible your goal may seem, it’s important to keep one FACT in mind: There are real-world successful people ALL around us.
Just turn on the TV, read the latest news, or watch a movie showing someone’s true story of survival or redemption.
There is concrete evidence all around us that it is possible to want something great, and actually make it happen.
But why is it that some people can accomplish the goals they set for themselves, while others never seem to get any traction?
This blog post will shed light on the answer and show you how you can cross over to the other side, and start experiencing SUCCESS with your goals.
For starters, you’ll discover two dangerous traps that people fall into when trying to achieve their goals, so you can avoid making the same mistakes. Then, you’ll discover a powerful 3-step system to set you up for success. Plus special insights to help you EXECUTE on your goals—these are the game-changers that will change the way you approach your goals forever.
But first, let’s get the hard part out of the way…
The 2 Fatal Mistakes You Are Likely Making
There are two dangerous traps you are very likely falling into whenever you set out to achieve a goal.
You are putting your faith in TWO things that are COMPLETELY unreliable. (And, as long as you keep looking to them to help you achieve your goals, you will never get very far.)
Trap #1: Willpower (It’s A Myth!)
People fundamentally misunderstand what willpower is and how it serves us.
Willpower (noun): the control of one’s impulses and actions; self-control.
Willpower has taken on almost mythical qualities in popular culture. We think that people who possess willpower are superheroes—extraordinary men or women who can defy the odds and complete any task through internal strength alone.
We think that accomplishing hard goals requires a lot of willpower, and if WE don’t have it, we’re out of luck.
And this is where we get into trouble early on…
We start believing that certain goals and ambitions are beyond us, because we lack the willpower to make them happen. But real willpower does not work that way.
Scientists have repeatedly shown over the last fifteen years that willpower is NOT a characteristic that some people have, and others don’t. Willpower is actually a limited resource that DEPLETES the more you use it.
University of Minnesota professor Dr. Kathleen Vohs and University of Florida professor of psychology Dr. Roy Baumeister have done a lot of work in this area to prove that we only have a limited supply of willpower available for use.
Dr. Vohs conducted a study in which half the participants were asked restrain their emotions while watching a movie (a common self-control task). Then she had all the participants do an ice cream test. They were allowed to eat as much or as little ice cream as they wanted.
Participants who had watched the movie (and already exercised some amount of self-control) ate a LOT more ice cream than the control group. They had already used up their willpower while watching the movie and didn’t have enough left to control the amount of ice cream they ate.
Dr. Baumeister proved this point AGAIN in another study. This time, the participants of the study took a Stoop color word test. Baumeister gave them a list of words written in another color font. Like this:
Blue Green Yellow Brown Black
It required the participants’ self-control to say the correct color, rather than the color they were seeing.
Afterwards Dr. Baumeister presented the participants with a choice of three laptop computers:
- A highly expensive, but powerful laptop.
- A really cheap, but low performing laptop.
- Or, a middle of the road laptop, that was neither expensive nor powerful (but not cheap and low performing either).
Participants who had gone through the Stoop test were far more likely to pick one of the extremes (option 1 or 2). Those who hadn’t done the Stoop test generally picked the compromise option (option 3). The group who had a reserve of willpower were more likely to make the sound, moderate decision.
So what does this mean for you?
Any time you make a compromise, and sacrifice ONE thing for another, you are exercising self-control:
- If you want to lose weight, you need to watch your portions and the amount of junk food you eat.
- If you want to start a business, you may need to swap TV or social time with doing the leg work required to start a business.
- If you want to buy a house, you need to cut back on vacations or eating out at expensive restaurants.
These are sacrifices that require your self-control, which means they are using up some of your willpower.
Willpower is great, when you have it available. But the science says it will eventually run out. So you can’t count on it to change your behavior in the long run.
Fortunately there’s a way to make behavior-change possible that isn’t as painful as willpower.
You’ll get to that in a few moments—but first, let’s talk about the second trap you are likely falling into…
Trap #2: The Motivation Misconception
Motivation is another thing we tend to rely on more than we should.
Motivation (noun): having a reason to act in a certain way.
Motivation can be a HUGE asset to have on our side when completing any goal, but it’s not always available. Motivation is not so much a limited resource (like willpower), it’s a “fluctuating” resource.
It is unpredictable and unreliable—there one day, gone the next. Motivation levels vary from day to day, and week to week. Ebbing and flowing like the tide.
Sometimes you have a lot of potential motivation, and sometimes only a little.
Stanford computer scientist and behavior guru B.J. Fogg calls these “motivation waves”.
Motivation waves occur naturally, and they can be triggered by life events— profound things like a death, or a birth. Or smaller (but no less meaningful) events, like hitting a shocking weight level—and deciding it’s time to turn things around.
Many people experience a positive motivation wave at the very beginning of the year, and make dozens of New Years resolutions. For others, a birthday around the corner makes us want to reinvent ourselves.
But regardless of the trigger, every motivation wave plays out the same.
When your motivation is at a peak, you take on big challenges. You hit the gym several times a week, nail down several new phrases in Spanish, or get your website up and new business cards printed. At first these challenges go well. You’re really psyched to accomplish your goals. You see real progress and start to believe that it’s finally going to happen. The positive results prompt you to keep going.
But inevitably you hit a roadblock or challenge. Something that slows, or temporarily reverses the results you’ve been seeing.
Maybe you have a week where you fell off your diet plan, and gained a bit of weight. Or maybe you were too busy to do your Rosetta Stone lessons, or you don’t get as much traffic and sales to your site as you had expected.
It could be anything.
But when your motivation collapses, your drive to keep going vanishes. More often than not, this is where people give up.
And this is why motivation fails us…
Successful people know that willpower and motivation are great to have around—but they can’t rely on them 100%. They know how to harness their motivation waves and use quick bursts of willpower—but they also know that more is required…
So what is this “more” that is required? Now, we’re getting to the game-changing information. Let’s start with a MINDSET shift you need to make…
The Mindset Shift You Must Make
A successful person doesn’t look at the world the same way as a regular person. So, if you want to cross over to the other side, and start achieving your goals, you need to start THINKING like a successful person. When a normal, regular person sets out to accomplish something, their eyes are on the prize—the OUTCOME they desire.
They think about being able to speak Spanish. Or having a size 0 body. Or of the dream home they’ll buy once they’ve finally made it. But visualizing the outcome can only take you so far. Successful people always have their desired outcome in mind. But they don’t dwell on it.
Instead, they’re obsessive about processes, habits and system. The specific actions that will get them from their starting point to the “promised land”. In other words…
Successful people don’t plan for outcomes, they plan for BEHAVIOR CHANGE.
Let’s see what this looks like in action.
A 3 Step System To Make Big Changes In Your Life…
STEP 1: Define Your Desired Outcome
Before you start thinking about tiny habits you want to form, you need to get clear on the big picture.
What is it that you want for yourself? What are you moving towards?
There are tons of ways to define what you want in your life. But to keep things simple, let’s take a look at TWO highly effective tools you can use to help you get CLEAR on your vision.
An Ideal Me List – First, you can make an Ideal Me list. A list of things you want to do in your life to be the best version of yourself you’ve always wanted and imagined.
Don’t let the sound of it deter you. An honest Ideal Me List can help put your TRUE desires into perspective, and identify goals you may not even know you had. It can be a truly eye-opening experience!
Join the Ideal Me 30 Day Challenge to download your own Ideal Me List Worksheet. It will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you get very clear on what you want in your life.
(By the end of this exercise, you probably have a list of around 8 to 50 things you hope to achieve in your life. The length of your list is a personal matter. No matter how short or long it is, the most important thing is that it reflects what’s important to YOU.)
Vision Board: Second, you can make a vision board. A vision board is a collage of images, colors, and words that you create to give you a visual picture of ALL that you want to achieve in your life…
When most people think of vision boards, they think of “The Secret”, The Law of Attraction, The Universe, and positive psychology—but this is only part of the process. You can’t just paste a bunch of pretty images on a poster board and hope to achieve all that you want in your life.
Your vision board should be created using TWO techniques:
- Outcome visualization – This is the traditional technique where you get crystal clear on your end point. If you want to lose 20 pounds, you’d imagine what you will look like and feel like when you have achieved it (the compliments you’ll receive, the clothes you’ll wear, etc.)
- Process visualization – You’ll form a vision of what it will be like at every stage of achieving your goal. You anticipate challenges and how you’d overcome them on each step of your journey.
You want to a clear vision, but it needs to be COMPLETE and realistic. And that’s where we get into Step 2…
STEP 2: Set SMART Goals
Once you have a clear VISION of what you want, you MUST go deeper. A very effective method has been created to make this process super simple. It’s called the SMART Goal-Setting System.
The SMART goal-setting system came to life after numerous research studies—including those conducted by goal-setting research pioneers Dr. Gary Latham and Dr. Edwin Locke—proved again and again, that…
The more SPECIFIC your goals are, the more LIKELY you will be able to achieve them.
A Smart Goal is:
- Specific – The more specificity you can bring to your goal, the more you take the guesswork out of what you need to do. Ex: lose 30 lbs of fat (not “lose the baby weight”).
- Measurable – You need to create measurable goals, or you’ll never know if you’re getting closer to achieving them. Gaining social confidence isn’t a measurable goal. Making 5 new friends, or going on 3 dates is.
- Achievable – Pick goals that are actually possible to achieve. Don’t aim to become a millionaire in 12 months if you have never earned a dime in your life. That’s not realistic, and you’ll set yourself up for failure. DO try to earn $45,000 or even $65,000.
- Relevant – Give your goal some context. “Save $2,000 for a trip to Spain” is much more relevant than “Stop eating out.” Make it obvious what your WHY is.
- Time-related – It’s “smart” to set a deadline for yourself. It greatly increases the chance you’ll actually follow through. So aim to achieve your goal in specific time. 10 weeks. 6 months. 2 years.
NonSMART Goal: “I will lose weight, and have a sexy body”
SMART Goal: “I will lose 10lbs of fat by March 1st, so I can wear a bikini this summer.”
NonSMART Goal: Make money online.
SMART Goal: “I will earn $3,000 of passive income per month in 12 months.”
Join The Ideal Me 30 Day “Design Your Ideal Life” Challenge and download to download the SMART Goal-Setting Worksheet. It will walk you through a step-by- step process to help you create SMART Goals.
STEP 3: Break Your Goal Down into One-Time Events & Required
Chances are, there are TWO types of actions that are required of you every time you set a goal.
- One-Time-Event (OTE)—an action that you need to take ONCE. It’s not something you have to do over and over again.
If you want to learn a language, you need to buy a course like Rosetta Stone.
If you want to lose weight and tone up, you need to get a gym membership.
If you want to start a business online, you need to register your domain name.
See how these above tasks are only one-time events?
- Required, Repetitive Action (RRA)—an action that you will need to do repeatedly, over and over again to make progress on your goal.
If you want to learn a language, you must practice conjugation every day.
If you want to bulk up, you must exercise regularly.
If you want to make money online, you have to consistently sell
If you want to be successful, you need to come up with OTEs and RRAs.
Little behaviors and steps that move you relentlessly forward.
Work backwards. Ask yourself, if I want to accomplish this goal, what do I need to do? Keep working backward, and get as detailed as possible.
For example, let’s say your goal is to lose 30lbs of fat in 8 months.
Your One Time Events May Be: Sign Up For A Gym, Buy A Scale, Buy Sneakers, Create An Exercise Routine
Your Required Repetitive Actions May Be: Drink more water, Hit the gym 5 times a week, swap white bread for whole grains.
See how it works?
Even if they’re not consciously aware of it, successful people are adept at breaking down their goals into these two kinds of actions. On some level, they know what you’ve just learned.
It’s all about shifting your mindset, learning those strategies, and making smart and detailed step by step plans for achieving your goals. If you’ve never done it before, that might seem easier said than done. That’s exactly why I created my 30 Day Challenge to help break down each of these strategies, teach you how to shift your mindset to optimize success, and help you make a plan that will help you actually accomplish your goals by turning them into real, lasting lifestyle habits. This post gives you a glimpse at what the challenge will cover. Learn more about creating the most achievable goals, how to create plans, stay on track, plus worksheets, printables, & daily videos to guide you along this journey.
If you’re ready to start creating your own success sign up for my Ideal Me 30 Day “Design Your Life” Challenge now!