Hand underlining Set Goals with red marker isolated on white.

Goal setting.

It’s an exciting idea, but most people only ever set goals. They don’t actually achieve them.

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That’s why we’re going to show you exactly what you have to do to set goals effectively so you can actually reach them.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

No discussion on how to set goals effectively would be complete without touching on the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Specific
    • What is my goal, why is it important, and who is involved?
  • Measurable
    • How will I track my progress?
    • What milestones will it involve?
  • Achievable
    • How will I accomplish this goal?
    • Based on preexisting constraints, is this goal realistic?
  • Relevant
    • Is this goal worthwhile?
    • Is this a good time to work toward this goal?
    • Does this goal match my needs?
  • Time
    • When is the deadline for this goal?
    • How much time do I need?

If you simply go through the above questions before you set a goal, you’ll instantly be on the path to success.

This exercise is also great because it slows you down and causes you to consider your goals. As we mentioned at the beginning, goal setting is exciting, but that also means it can be an impulsive practice. You think of something you want and immediately begin working toward it, even though you have no plan for success.

Take an hour or so to make sure you’re setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal and you’ll be far better off.

Has Someone Already Accomplished This Goal?

There is no shame in copying other people’s work when it comes to goal-setting.

Losing weight is a great example of how much easier a goal can be when you find someone who already has the results you want. It also underscores our earlier point about avoiding impulsivity.

When most people decide it’s time to lose weight, they simply decide they’ll take the common-sense approach: they’ll work out more and eat less.

That’s why most people fail at losing weight.

A far better idea would be to find someone who was a similar weight, leads a similar lifestyle, and faces the same types of challenges as you.

Then, look at what they did – including how long it took them – and follow suit.

Even if you have entrepreneurial dreams of starting your own company, there is already someone out there who has done something similar enough that you can model your goal off their success.

Don’t fly blind. Don’t even fly vague. Look for a preexisting blueprint, modify it if necessary, and then follow it.

Ask for Help

Along the same lines, reach out and ask someone for advice if that person has achieved a similar goal.

You might be surprised how helpful people can be. Many simply like talking about their journey. After all, it’s a completely guilt-free excuse to do a bit of boasting.

Someone who feels like a mentor may also become invested in your success and actually turn into a real long-term asset.

Of course, this kind of help may come as part of a trade. That’s only fair, so proactively look for ways you can provide your mentor with something in exchange.

Forget About Your Goal

Seriously.

There’s a time and place to come back to your goal, but when people do nothing but focus on their goal, they either fail or waste a lot of time and resources on their way to success.

Maybe your goal right now is to sell more products every year. You want to take profits from $100,000 to $200,000.

That’s probably going to mean you’ll need to do a better job of marketing, sales, and negotiations.

These should be the things you focus on every day.

Figure out how to improve your marketing, break that down into manageable steps, and then work on getting better at those steps each and every day.

The same thing applies to sales, negotiations, and anything else you need to do.

Then, every month, check to see if you’re making progress. If you are, great. You’re on the right path and you can even look for ways to improve your efforts.

If you’re not making progress, you know that changes need to be made.

So while we’re not suggesting you actually forget about your goal altogether, you absolutely must set it aside so you can dedicate yourself to the steps immediately ahead of you.

Set Yourself Up for Success by Investing in Accountability

ACCOUNTABILITY - fluorescent Neon tube Sign on brickwork - Front view - 3D rendered royalty free stock picture. Can be used for online banner ads and direct mailers.

Even if you have your own company with employees who surround you every day, it can be easy to come up short on your business-related goals. In fact, it might actually be easier because there’s no one above you to make sure you’re doing what needs to be done.

Accountability is how you avoid this problem – and there are several ways you can invest in it.

The easiest is to simply state your goal. This also helps ensure you’re setting realistic ones.

Again, if your company turns a profit of $100,000 at the moment, making $1,000,000,000 by the end of the year probably isn’t very realistic. However, it’s a lot easier to convince yourself that it is (“I can do anything I put my mind to!”) than a room full of your subordinates. Reality will kick in, and you’ll have a hard time getting the words out your mouth.

Making your goal public also guarantees you’ll feel a certain amount of pressure, which is a good thing. In a year, if you come up short, you’ll feel an understandable sense of embarrassment.

At the same time, you’ll probably feel pressure each and every day to prove to the people around you that you’re making every effort to reach that goal.

If you’re an entrepreneur and don’t have the same kind of community-pressure to leverage, tell your friends or family. Announce it on social media. Make a bet with someone – one that you would never want to lose – to keep yourself moving forward.

By now, you should feel that familiar sense of adrenaline that comes right before setting a goal. Use that momentum to begin with the first step and then implement the other tactics. If you do, you’ve already taken a huge leap toward the goal you have in mind.