In order to be truly successful, you first need to decide what it is you want to achieve. That is to say that you can’t very well get what you want in life until you have actually decided what precisely it is that you do want.
This is where goal setting comes in. In order to have a shot at living your life to the very fullest and achieving your full potential, you need to have a goal and you need to know what precisely it is that you want to accomplish.
The problem for many people is that we don’t know how to write goals that we can accomplish and we instead end up with unrealistic or ill-defined goals. This is the difference between goals and visions and this is the difference between goals that you can achieve and those you can’t.
You have your vision and you have your mission statement. But if you leave it at that, then there is a good chance that you will never execute on your plan – as we saw earlier, this is backed up by research that shows us that having a goal can actually give us ‘permission’ almost to rest on our laurels.
The Problem With Goal Setting
But the types of ‘goals’ many people write are not much better.
Let’s say for instance that it is your short-term goal to look and feel amazing. To be in your best shape ever and to really be healthy and happy as a result.
So you make your goal:
“To lose 10lbs by next year.”
That sounds like a perfectly legitimate goal that would work well but in fact, it is far too vague and too long-term.
If your goal is to lose weight in 10lbs, then this gives you no structure to how you’re going to get there. And not only that but a year is a long time, meaning that you can end up putting your training off until you get to that point.
In other words, you might wake up one day and really feel low on energy and motivation. So you say to yourself ‘one day won’t make a difference’, ‘I’ll make up for it tomorrow’ or ‘I’ll make up for it next week’. Whatever the case, you then feel that you don’t have to worry about skipping out on your training today because you’re aiming to lose weight over such a long period.
What happens? You end up trying to cram all your training into a very short amount of time because you’ve put it off so many times. 3 months into your training and you’ve made so many excuses that you’ve actually gained a pound.
Now you need to rush.
But then you find that life gets in the way.
Maybe you get ill, maybe you’re very busy, or maybe your routine changes and you no longer have the time to train.
And now you find yourself getting even further behind.
By the end, you realize that you’re never going to achieve your objective in time, you feel greatly disheartened and you ultimately end up giving up on your goal altogether.
The problem with this goal was that it was:
Too long term
Too out of your hands
So let’s think of a new type of goal.
This time, our goal is to work out for at least 15 minutes, four times a week.
That is now a much more straightforward, simple to understand the goal that you can follow through and that is entirely within your hands. Whether you lose weight is partly down to genetics and partly down to your metabolism. But everyone has 15 minutes to spare in a day. And that means this is entirely down to your own drive, willpower and determination.
This is entirely within your control.
Better yet, it is immediate. And it is pass or fail.
That means you can’t say ‘I’ll make up for it next week’ because by that point you’ve failed your goal on that week. This is a simple goal that you either accomplish or fail to accomplish. And if you do fail, you can try again next week with no need to be overly disheartened by it.
The same applies to any other goal, not just fitness. So instead of making your goal ‘to write a best-selling novel’, instead make your goal ‘to write 1 page a night’. The best part is that if you concentrate on these smaller goals, then your overall vision will start to take care of itself. You focus on the day-to-day
grind and you let the bigger picture grow on its own.
Creating Goals and Going After Them
The key then is to identify which smaller steps like this are going to be most effective in helping you to reach your broader goals and visions. How do you break your objective down into small goals that you can follow through?
This means coming up with a plan and that means creating a road map. You have your passion now, so the next step is to make sure that everything you’re doing in life is going to be supportive of that passion. You might be working a job you don’t like right now but that job should be helping you to get closer to the lifestyle you want. This should be part of your plan.
So map it out and look at the individual steps you’ll be taking on the way to get to your final destination. Some more considerations are to make sure that the goal you’re heading towards is something that you can personally accomplish and to work with the resources you have available to you.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t do the things you want to do. The key is to work out how you can get to the point you want to be at, from your current situation. For example, we’ve already suggested that you can be a successful music artist by creating a YouTube channel where you share your music. That’s
not the obvious or most common way of achieving that goal but it will work just the same.
Try to think about alternative ways to get what you want that play to your strengths. A great example of someone who did this is Sylvester Stallone. Stallone wanted to be an actor in Hollywood movies but no one would really give him the opportunity. His slurred speech and buff physique ensured that he was only ever cast in bit parts as the ‘heavy’ and so he had
to find another way to break into show business.
What he did to accomplish this, was to create a script for a film (he was a great screenwriter). That film of course was Rocky and film producers and studios were so excited by it that they offered him huge amounts of money to buy the rights.
But Stallone was steadfast and he said he would only let them have the rights if he could star in the film as Rocky. The studios were reluctant but eventually, they relented – and the rest is history!
Likewise, Arnold Schwarzenegger took a highly unlikely path in his career, becoming a famous bodybuilder before using that platform to springboard himself to success as a movie star and eventually a politician.
You have skills, you have contacts and no doubt you’ve already made
some progress. So think about what the most strategic way for you to accomplish your goals is and work toward that
So perhaps your goal is to become a highly successful, confident and
attractive. A fairly lofty goal but one that is achievable if you define those
abstract concepts to make more tangible and concrete steps.
Maybe your three goals in this case are:
To commit to a 4-times weekly training routine
To add one impressive thing to your CV each month
To refresh your wardrobe, with one new item per week
These three changes will improve the way you come across in person, they
will build confidence and they will translate to better progress in your
relationships and in your career.
You write down your goals, you feel great about them…
…and then real life kicks in.
The week that follows is your most tiring week yet. Work is soul-crushing
and highly stressful and you really don’t feel like you have got the willpower
to start looking for more experience outside of the office, or to take on more
responsibility and training opportunities at work. You just need to ride the
And meanwhile, you are coming home feeling so exhausted that you really
don’t have it in you to train four times a week.
Not to mention that you’re feeling tight on cash and don’t want to buy
yourself new clothes. Anyway, it’s winter and it’s too dark when you get
home to go out shopping.
And so you half-heartedly make an attempt at your goals before ultimately
giving up on them. How many times has this happened in the past? How
many times have you decided that you want to start a new training regime
only for it to last 1 week before you giving up? Often you’ll even have spent
money on a professional training program and will still find it doesn’t work
for you well enough for you to stick at it.
How many of us have decided to improve our dress sense only to get
bored of it after a few weeks?
How long have you been telling yourself you’ll find a new job?
The next question for us then is how we can take the aim and stick with it to
make it really happen. How do you make sure that you stick with that goal
day in and out?
The Power of Passion
The first and most important thing of all is to make absolutely certain that
the passion you’re pursuing really is your passion.
As I said before, this is absolutely critical for the rest of this plan to work.
That’s because having a passion brings you alive. Did you know that
people with passion are seen as being more attractive? More charismatic
and more persuasive?
One of the things that we use to gauge charisma is gesticulation. If
someone walks around a lot while they talk to us and makes large
gestures, then we consider this a sign of charisma and as such, we
become instantly more likely to listen to them, to be inspired by what
they’re saying and to ultimately be persuaded by their point of view.
And the opposite sex find this very attractive.
Passionate people are exciting, they’re driven, they’re wired and they’re
filled with positive energy.
Waking up every morning and knowing exactly what you want to achieve is
like switching on a bright light deep inside yourself that everyone else is
attracted to like moths.
But it’s also what will make you willing to grind and put in the work.
Will Smith said that the secret to his success is simply that he is willing to
stay on the treadmill longer than anyone else.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is unarguably one of the most successful
people on the planet right now. He’s among the highest grossing/paid
actors, he was recently voted the world’s sexiest man, he has conquered
two separate careers (sports and acting) and there’s word that he’s thinking
of going into politics. His social media campaign is also huge.
And how does he do it? One clue can be found by looking at his Instagram
account where he will regularly post every morning that he is going to the
gym. His pictures are him working out at his gym while it’s still dark outside,
or of his phone alarm going off at 4 am.
In other words, this is a guy who is seriously committed to his vision of
success. And his body is a living testament to that.
How does he get up in the morning at that time and work out?
Simple: he loves what he does. He believes in what he does. It’s what he’s
If you’re struggling to stick with your goals, then there’s a good chance that
you just don’t have the drive to fulfill them. Maybe you’re on the wrong
If you love what you do – truly love it – then you will be happy to spend
more time on your business, to spend more money on your clothes, to put
in hours in the gym or on the tarmac, to write that book, to save up to travel
The Importance of Accountability and Using the Help of Others
Tim Ferriss there briefly and he is definitely someone that
we should listen to when it comes to goal setting and accomplishing.
Tim Ferriss is the author of The Four Hour Workweek, which shows readers
how to design the lifestyle they want so that they’re only working four hours
a week! One way they do this is by setting goals and achieving them and
one of the strategies that Tim recommends to that end, is to create
accountability and stakes.
The way this works is simple: you give yourself a goal that you can pass or
fail on a daily basis, weekly or monthly basis and then you tell someone
about it. For example, you might tell a friend that you intend to visit one
other country at least every month.
It’s very easy to not actually follow through with a goal like that though and
so you’re going to make yourself accountable. How? By giving that friend
the job of checking in on you – and of being able to punish you if you don’t
Tim Ferriss recommends the ultimate punishment. They are to donate a
large amount of money to a charity in your name. The kicker? You get them
to donate your money to a charity that you don’t agree with! That way, you
don’t even get the positive benefit of feeling you’ve done well. This way,
you have lost money, you’ve damaged your good name and you’ve done a
bad thing for the world.
Pretty brutal but by creating stakes like this, you’re once again bringing the
motivation for your action to the forefront, which is going to put your brain in
that more focussed, driven and ambitious state. You are telling your body
that this is very important and you’re going to experience ‘eustress’
(positive stress) as a result to motivate yourself into achieving that goal!
Should You Share Your Goals?
This is great advice and it can help a great deal but it does go against
another piece of research which shows us that it can actually be destructive
for us to share our goals.
When we share our goals, we tell people that we’re going to stop smoking,
that we’re going to become rich by saving our cash or that we’re going to
move to another country.
This is a great moment as they will no doubt celebrate our decision and be
excited for us. For a moment it feels as though it has already happened –
you’ve committed to it by saying it out loud and now it’s a part of who you
But this is actually the problem. Because by doing that, you’ve actually
released some of the psychological drives to get out there and do it. You’ve
already stated your intention, already made it a part of your personality, and
already had some of the adulations.
You now actually have less motivation.
Worse is that some people might tell you it can’t be done or might talk you
out of your goals. It’s a dangerous business to reveal your dreams like this.
So for this reason, you should share your goals only with a couple of select
people and only the people who can help to create that accountability and
Embrace the Fear
But you know what? There are actually already stakes for failing to
accomplish any goal.
The stake is that you end up living the life you live right now… forever. With
zero improvements or progress.
That might not sound like a terrible deal but the fact of the matter is that this
is actually the most frightening prospect of all – because it’s very realistic.
If you don’t take a chance by looking for new jobs, by travelling now while
you’re young, by getting into shape, by changing the way you feel about
…then you’re going to carry on doing the precise 9-5pm every single day.
You’ll feel no sense of accomplishment, of reward, or of adventure. You’ll
lie on your death bed and you’ll look back and feel as though you actually
wasted a large portion of your life.
You never lived your dreams.
You’re never too old to be what you’ve always wanted to be. If you take the
strategy we’ve discussed here, then there are always ways you can live
your dreams right now. Even if that means paying for your place on Virgin
Galactic, or if it means playing ‘old lady 7’ in TV programs. But that said,
the older you get, the less time you’ll have to enjoy your achievements and
the less energy and vitality you’ll have to enjoy it with.
So don’t delay. You can’t afford to delay. Remember this and you’ll
hopefully feel that sense of urgency and focus too.
Creating a Movement
Finally, know that you can often accomplish your goals better with the help
of others. This is one more reason to tell people about your dreams.
The obvious and easy example of this is finding a training partner. If you
want to get into better shape, then finding a workout buddy will make it that
much easier to stick to that goal because they’ll give you encouragement
and motivation in the gym. You’ll want to train even harder than you
normally would to impress them and you won’t want to skip sessions
because that would mean letting them down.
The same goes for dieting or any number of other goals. Note as well that if
you can get your partner on board with you, then you’ll have even more
But another example is that you can start an actual movement or a group.
If you want to start a band, or a start-up business, then you’ll automatically
need to involve more people and that will mean finding other people
who are as passionate and excited as you.
Otherwise, you might start a movement or a group about any other thing.
What about a weightloss group? Or what about a political movement?
How about starting a well-dressed club? Or finding other entrepreneurs to
work on your projects with.
When you create a movement and everyone is equally as passionate and
as driven, it becomes self-sustaining and contagious and that can help you
to grow and to achieve more incredible things than you ever could on your
Invest in You – Read, Read, Read
Have you ever really wanted to accomplish something but just felt it’s
Maybe you wish you were earning more money and the perfect position
has opened up at your work – but you just don’t feel that you have the
necessary skillset to apply.
That’s a horrible way to feel and no one should be made to feel that way.
But of course it’s true: you can sometimes end up biting off more than you
can chew. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it – it just means you have to learn to do it!
And this is where investing in yourself jumps out as the very best type of
investment. Whether you are investing time or money, investing in yourself
is the answer to getting what you want and to getting ahead.
Need to be able to program to work online the way you want to? Then learn
Feel like you aren’t taken seriously in your office? Then perhaps changing
the way you dress will help.
Feel like people don’t respond to you the way you want them to? Then
think about changing the way you interact socially. Perhaps learn how to
conduct yourself in a better way, to be more persuasive.
Nearly everything can be learned but once again, it just comes down to
being able to stick at it.
This might even be one of your three goals: to learn X or to improve your
looks using the Y method. This will also relate to that ‘law of attraction’. When
you invest in yourself and it changes the way you talk, the way you stand, and the way you present yourself, it will also change the way that others
react to you. And by doing that, you will instantly find it becomes easier to
go after the things you want!
The Power of Reading
The great news is that these days, there is just tons of information available
online that can really help you to develop yourself. And there are countless
books as well that tackle these topics.
These all look at success and goal setting from a broader perspective and
help you to really learn how to motivate yourself and how to apply yourself
to going after what you want. Many of these challenge the capitalist notion
that we need to find a job and work our pants off to try and succeed in a
Reading this stuff is important. Not only do these kinds of books help you to
learn new skills and new ways to achieve what you want but they also help
to give you the motivation and inspiration to keep going. The more you read
about successful attitudes and mindsets, the easier it becomes to make
that a part of who you are.