Five Unfailingly Effective Ways to Nail Your Goals

Ever felt like your goals are mocking you from the pages of your planner? Fear not. Here are five surefire strategies to turn those taunts into triumphs.

1. Define It Like You Mean It

Before you do anything else, get crystal clear about what you’re chasing. “Get fit” sounds great but is about as clear as mud in a rainstorm. “Run a 5k in under 30 minutes by July” – now that’s a goal you can’t confuse. Specificity is your new best friend; treat it well.

2. Break It Down – Lego Style

Looking at your goal as one giant leap might seem as daunting as building the Death Star overnight. Break it down into manageable, bite-sized pieces. Just like Lego, assemble your goal piece by piece – run a little further each week, write a page a day, save a small amount regularly. Before you know it, you’ll have built your empire, or at least a really impressive Lego set.

3. Buddy Up

Everything’s better with friends, including goal smashing. Find a goal buddy who shares your vision or has an equally daunting task at hand. When the going gets tough, you’ll have someone to exchange motivational memes with and remind you why you started in the first place.

4. Track and Celebrate

What gets measured gets done. Keep a log of your progress, no matter how small. Celebrate the little victories; they add up. Finished a week of workouts? Treat yourself to that new protein shake you’ve been eyeing. Each small celebration fuels your motivation for the next leg of the journey.

5. Flexibility Is Not Just for Yoga

Sometimes, despite our best plans, life throws us a curveball. Be willing to adapt your plan. Can’t run outside because of a blizzard? Maybe it’s time to befriend the treadmill. Flexibility in your approach will help you overcome obstacles without losing sight of your goal.

In Conclusion

Achieving goals isn’t just about brute force; it’s a blend of clarity, planning, camaraderie, celebration, and adaptability. With these five strategies in your arsenal, you’re well on your way to turning your goals from distant dreams into today’s achievements. Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Not that we’re suggesting you eat an elephant – they’re much better as friends.

Late to Set Your 2024 Goals? Start here!

  1. Reflect and Prioritize: Start with a look back at the past year. Identify what worked, what didn’t, and what you wish you had done differently. Use these insights to prioritize goals that align with your core values and where you want to be by the end of the year.
  2. Set SMART Goals: Emphasize the importance of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. SMART goals provide clarity and a tangible roadmap to follow, making it easier to track progress and stay motivated.
  3. Break It Down: Large goals can be overwhelming. Encourage breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps. This makes the goals seem more attainable and helps maintain momentum by achieving mini-milestones along the way.
  4. Commit Publicly: Sharing goals with friends, family, or a mentor can significantly boost the commitment to achieving them. The added layer of accountability helps stay on track, especially when motivation wanes.
  5. Regular Review and Adjust: Life’s unpredictable. Encourage setting regular check-ins (monthly or quarterly) to review progress. Be ready to adjust goals as needed. Flexibility is key to overcoming obstacles and staying aligned with overarching ambitions.

Read The Economist, Watch I’m Not Your Guru, Ask Your Employees What to Stop

Here’s what I’m reading, watching, and stopping:

  • Read The Economist.  I first came across The Economist on a trip to London.  I find it an a-political commentary on what’s happening in the world.  In particular, I like the Schumpeter column.    
  • Watch I’m Not Your Guru featuring Tony Robbins.  Robbins is someone that folks either love or hate.  This insight into his seminars and what happens behind the scenes, I’ve found interesting.
  • Start asking your employees what to stop doing.  As part of our strategic planning, we have employees meet for a “Town Hall.” In the Town Hall, management is not present; employee’s facilitated feedback is anonymous and aggregated.  One of the common questions is what is something the firm should “start doing,” “stop doing,” and “continue doing.  ” For the item we should stop doing; it helps eliminate processes, tasks, or other things bogging down the company.

The Art of Stopping Time

In The Art of Stopping Time, Pedram Shojai, the author, shares something we all know; our most treasured resource is time.  So how do we leverage it?  Stop it!

What we get out of time depends on mindfulness, energy, and how we focus and spend our time.  For all of us, time is the great equalizer—we all have the same amount of hours in a day.

The first step is to determine how we are spending our time to begin an assessment to maximize time.  Is time spent on something meaningful or pleasurable?  Next, consider energy to invest in worthwhile endeavors versus low-energy tasks like doom scrolling social media.  Last, Are we mindful?  Are we living in the moment?

The author reminds us to cut bait on goals or activities that are no longer relevant and deserve our time.  Then, use this newfound time in rewarding areas and produce results.

What’s your ROI on time?  In investing, there’s a return strategy.  What’s your time investment strategy?  When time pops up, say an appointment cancels, or a commute is faster than planned, there’s a decision on how to use this extra time.  Like investing, knowing how to “invest” this spare time is essential.

We have more power over our time than we may initially think.  While some obligations are required—say, paying taxes or feeding our pets—others are at our discretion.  These discretionary activities could include letting go of relationships or no longer relevant or essential activities.

For time, the “how” is as important as the “what.”  Are there ways to get two things done at once?  Say you want to exercise and spend time with your kid.  Could you have your kiddo join you for your run or bike ride?  Or, if you have a conference call and need to drop off your child for a playdate, could you drop your kid off while having your conference call?  Small decisions compounded make for big-time impacts.

Our mobile phones are a double-edged sword.  While they can be productive, it’s a quick way to be distracted or entertained.  The next time there’s a fleeting moment, resist the temptation to grab the phone and use it to think through a current problem or reconnect with a past friend.

Be mindful.  Be present.  Be thankful.  On vacation or at work, wherever you are, think “this is the last time I’m ever here.” If this was the case, how would you be present?  Being mindful lets us live in the moment and stop time. 

While no one can stop time, we can prioritize, organize and be mindful.

Do Nothing

I recently finished Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee. In it, she shares:

  • A strive for efficiency can make us unhappy if we believe we need to keep up with others who portray success
  • While current-day productivity hacks are popular, medieval peasants worked less and had more vacation than today’s average worker
  • The cult of efficiency makes us feel guilty about enjoying leisure time. As shared in my post, Think Like a Rocket Scientist, downtime opens our minds to new ideas
  • Email and text are simple and efficient. Yet, they lack the connection that happens in a live conversation. In Do Nothing, the author shares a research study where a storyteller talks live with a listener. The listener’s brain waves end up emulating those of the reader
  • Comparison to others or using social media to determine the bar for happiness is a bad idea

In summary, take time for downtime and create your own definition of success and happiness.