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How to Achieve Goals: 4 Steps to Success

how to achieve goalsLearning how to achieve goals changes everything.

There is one huge difference between people who reach their goals regularly and those who struggle just to keep their heads above water.

In a word, focus.

Focus beats scattershot every time. We know this, yet many of us find it difficult to stay on track.

There are many things beyond our control that work against us.

Maybe a client suddenly shifts gears on a project. Or your boss calls a mandatory meeting and thrusts some new urgent demands upon you. And there’s always the weather, traffic, and other random events of the day…

But many times, we let ourselves get thrown off by far less.

We confuse the urgent with the important.

We get distracted.

We don’t feel like working on something difficult, so we make excuses.

These might be bigger barriers to focus and achieving your goals than anything else.

That’s where these 4 steps can really help you to get–and stay–on track!

1. Decide what to focus on

This might be the hardest part, don’t you think? It’s all about making a choice. When what we really like to do is make a whole bunch of choices.

But making a whole bunch of choices isn’t really deciding. It’s avoiding a decision. Maybe the most important decision of all.

If you try to do 10 things this week, odds are many of them won’t go as well as you might hope. There will be lots of worthy excuses. But not much progress.

It’s better to decide on what is most important. Which means you’ve got to decide that the other things aren’t as important. And that they won’t get done.

Deciding is all about letting go. It’s about deciding what not to do as much as it is about deciding what single thing to focus on.

2. Get clear on outcomes

Why is it that once we finally get this hardest part done (deciding), it’s still not easy to focus?

Most of the time, I think it’s because we are still left with a goal that is still unclear in too many ways.

We like to make big goals, which is great. But getting a big thing done means that you have to do lots of little things.

In order to break it down into those little things, it’s a good idea to determine the specific outcomes you’re after. What do you hope to achieve by reaching the goal? What impact will reaching the goal have? How will you know that you’ve been successful?

That kind of thinking can help you refine the goal and shape your approach.

3. Take specific action

Now you can start to break things down into specific actions very quickly and effectively. Once you’ve decided what to focus on and honed your goal, you’ve got to figure out what to do about it.

These actions are the things that you can do to achieve your goal. Things that are 100% within your control. Things that you can just go do.

If your goal is to sell 100 ice cream cones today, you can’t actually control that directly. What you can do, though, is make sure that the ice cream stand is staffed, get the supplies ready, make sure there is change in the register, put out the sign by the side of the road, post to Facebook, etc.

These are the tasks 100% in your control that will help you to achieve your goal. That’s the action plan you need.

4. Be good, not perfect

If you’re not careful, perfection can become the enemy of good enough. That’s what stops a lot of us when we’re deep into progress on something important.

If it’s this important and this urgent, we’ve got to get it perfect, we tell ourselves. But that’s often just another way to sabotage our efforts.

We put a disproportionate emphasis on the wrong parts. Maybe because we’re nervous, or because we’re second-guessing ourselves, or maybe it’s for some other reason.

Whatever the case, we need to keep an eye on the main goal and the primary outcomes we are aiming for. If the little detail you’re worrying about doesn’t pass through that filter, it’s getting in the way.

Bring it all into focus

Decide what to focus on. Get clear on the specific outcomes. Take specific action. Get it done by being good enough and avoiding the perfection trap.

Each of these steps builds momentum for the next. Together, they help you to achieve focus and get results. Which builds momentum for the next thing that you decide to focus on.