How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

How to Set Goals and Achieve Them 1024 430 Dr. David Arrington

How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

This is the first part of Goal Sprint: 7 Days to Clear Achievable Goals, should you want to complete the course, you can take the course here.

I've often wondered why some people can achieve their goals quickly and why so many others seem to struggle. So based on my work with leaders, and their teams, and some additional research I realized achieving a goal only requires two things: clarity and a plan. They work like a lock and key. One without the other is useless. Those who don't achieve their goals often don't have goals, they have wishes dressed up as goals. They also lack plans to make their goals happen. These issues completely derail their attempts to achieve their goals. 

Welcome to Goal Sprint, seven days to clear achievable goals. I am so excited that you've chosen this course. You made a great purchase, and this course is going to help you identify, clarify, and achieve your big picture goals.

When you've got your goals clear in front of you, and they're top of mind​​, there aren't many things that can stop you, and during this seven-day sprint, I want you to make one commitment to yourself that you will do the work.

It's easy to go through this and finish the lessons and watch, but I want you to lean into the course, do the worksheets, and take the time to identify what's truly important to you so that you can achieve the goals that matter most.

Achieving Your Stretch Goals

Let's get started on day one. Day one, we're talking about your big picture success, big picture success.

What does that look like to you?

Here's what we're doing today. We're going to look at our roadmap for our seven-day goal sprint. We're going to define a goal. We're going to clear up some goal confusion. We're going to talk about new year's resolutions. Do we love them, or do we leave them? We're going to see how you are received at your lifetime achievement award ceremony. You're welcome, and we're going to identify overarching goals for 1, 5, and 10 years from now.

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and they underestimate what they can do in 10 years. - Bill Gates

Here's a great quote. I want you to let that burn into your mind because this sets us up for almost the entire seven-day goal sprint. Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and they underestimate what they can do in 10 years. 

We try to cram so much into 12 months that we forget that, guess what? We'll be here in 5 years. We'll be here in 10 years, and we can set goals that stretch that far into the future. By trying (and often failing) to achieve so many big goals in a year, we condition ourselves that we can't make progress or achieve our goals.

So I want to disabuse you of that right now. You can achieve your goals when they're clear, when they're motivating, and when they're precise when they've got a time frame. We're going to talk about that in just a few slides, but I want you to understand you can do it. You got this; you got this.

Roadmap For Goal Sprint

So here's our roadmap for the next seven days. We're going to identify your goals. You're going to clarify your goals. You're going to confirm they're the right goals. Then you're going to write them so that they motivate you. We're going to help you identify your goal supporters. We're going to tie your goals to your current habits. And when it's all said and done, you're going to have a personalized one of a kind goal achievement plan. Why is it personalized? And one of a kind, because your goals are going to be different from mine.

What Is A Goal?

Your vision of success is different from mine. So, therefore, your plan will be different from mine. And anyone else who goes through this course. So let's start at the very foundation, the very beginning.

What is a goal? 

And I asked this question of rooms of leaders and business people. And I usually get blank stares, and I'll get bits and pieces of an answer. But this is because goals are a popular topic. The idea of goals is a big part of our culture, and we think we know what they are. So that's why I always start with a definition.

Achieve your goals faster

A goal is a desired, aspirational, important, verifiable, time-bound future outcome that a person or group commits to plan, to achieve.

Okay? So with this definition, we can already see where most of our goal setting goes way off the rails because a goal is something you want to accomplish.

It's something you want to do. It's aspirational. It's pointing you to a better version of yourself. It's important. It's something that you're willing to sacrifice to achieve. It's verifiable because you know when you cross the finish line.

Having important, motivational goals you will want to do the hard work to achieve them. This will help you to achieve your goals faster.

It's time-bound, which means it's got a deadline at some point, and it's a future outcome, which means you don't have it now. It's something that you are trying to achieve or trying to become or trying to gain.

But the two final verbs that we're going to look at here are commit and plan. You've got to commit. Choosing to achieve this goal will require you not to pursue other goals. There's going to be some sacrifice. There are going to be things that you can't do because you are focused on accomplishing this goal.

In my opinion goals are a productivity hack, helping you to stay more focused and accomplish more. You read what I wrote about that here.

Finally, you need a plan. Without a plan, everything you're working on related to your goals is just a waste of time.

Goals And GPS'​​​​

 We know goals are essential, and goals, in my opinion, are like destinations. Your GPS is don't work well without destinations. Guess what, neither do you.

When your goals are clear, you know what you need to do next and the direction you are moving. When your goals are unclear, your next steps are fuzzy, and you lose time going in circles or not moving at all.

goals are like gps' they make sure you get to your destination help you to achieve personal stretch and big goals faster

Think about it like this. Your GPS app is entirely useless; it's dormant until you give it a destination. Then it springs to life, and it tells you how long it's going to take you to get where you want to go. It tells you how many turns there'll be. It'll let you know how many feet you have to go on this street before your next turn. It will tell you to avoid traffic, and then if you get stuck in traffic, it will then start estimating how long it's going to take you to stay in traffic before you get to your destination.

Not until you finally get to your destination. Does your GPS say you've arrived? And then it just goes back to being dormant again because it only works when it has a destination, and that's the way you are.

Think of your goals as destinations. They are milestones. They are the outcomes you need to achieve to create that big picture vision that we're going to discuss in a minute. But there's a ton of contradictory information about goals on the internet. It can be overwhelming. It can lead to what I call goal confusion. 

Goal Setting Examples 

The first step in achieving your goals is to have a goal. I know this sounds obvious, but many people think they have goals, but they don't. Or they want to write a goal, but they can't get started because so many goal examples are contradictory and or just confusing. 

As we move through this course, and you write your goals, you will understand precisely why we use a simple goal structure.

Let's look at some common things that are often confused with goals.

Goals versus Wishes

We need to understand how goals work in relation to wishes, right? 

Goals are outcomes people want to achieve. Wishes are hope and fairy dust. They're the good intentions that smother urgency and action.

We've all heard these, and we've all made wishes thinking they were goals. So here I'll give you an example goal.

Goal: I will pay off all $27,000 of credit card debt by [date].

That is a solid goal, right? It's something you would want to do. It's evident. You know when you've paid off $27,000 of credit card debt specifically. It's not student loan debt, not mortgage debt. 

That's just credit card debt, and I know I want to get it done by this date. I can say check finish line. I know when I've achieved it.

Wish: I want to pay off my credit cards this year.

That's something you could say pretty much any year. That's something most people say every year, and it never gets done. 

Why? Because it's a wish. It's not a goal. It's not actionable. There's nothing there to execute there. How many credit cards do you have to pay off? How much do you want to pay off? What year is that?

This resolution is probably something you said last year. If you said it last year, then you meant it last year, and that's what happens. Wishes are good intentions. They sound good. They are things we know we should say.

But they are things that we never get clear enough to achieve. They never crystallize in our minds enough to take action, and that's why wishes are terrible because they often masquerade as goals. 

Goals Versus Tasks

Then we have goals versus tasks. Goals are forward-looking and big picture things, right? A goal is, is an overarching outcome you're trying to achieve. Tasks, on the other hand, are often simple to-do list items.

Here's an easy way to tell the difference. If you can check something off in an afternoon or 20 minutes, it was a task. It was never a goal.

So let's look at another example goal. 

Goal: Climb Everest by September of whatever year. That's the goal. Get to the top of the world by September of [year]. 

A task would be reading a blog post on the best ways to prep for an Everest ascent. Two different things, right? One will take you about 15 minutes and probably provide you more information to research and find out.

But the other is doing the thing. So one is a task; the other is a goal. Don't confuse the two. I've seen in my experience; people often confuse the two. If you can check it off quickly, it's a task; it's not a goal.

Goals Versus Projects

Let's look at projects versus goals. So this is where it gets a little bit less clear for people.

Goals set the direction for projects, but projects are the steps you take to achieve goals.

Here's another example goal:

Goal: I will create and sell a course by [date].

Project: Research the best platforms or plugins for online course creation and distribution. That's the project. That project is going to help you to achieve that goal.

So when you know which platforms and plugins are best for online course creation distribution, then that's going to provide a puzzle piece to help you achieve the goal of creating and selling a course by whatever date you want to sell it.

Notice when we start at the top, we've got a big picture vision, and goals support that big picture vision. So fundamentally, your goals are the milestones to help you achieve that big picture vision of success.

Then we've got steps or projects that support those goals, and then under those projects, we've got actions, and we've got tasks that support those steps and projects that support those goals that are moving you toward that big vision.

Because that's how we break creating achievable goals into manageable steps, now we understand why most goals are wishes in disguise.

I want to lose weight.

I want to get promoted.

I want to be happy.

These are wishes in disguise because you can never tell anything about them. These are things people say because they sound good. They may want to achieve these aspirations, but as they stand, they aren't achievable, there's no way to create a plan to accomplish any of those wishes. 

They're not clear or specific enough to achieve. There's nothing here that you can dig your teeth into and say, "I want to achieve that because... wait, what does happiness even mean?" Because it can look different every single day.

By when do you want to lose weight? How much weight an ounce, a pound, 10 pounds, a hundred pounds, how much weight? 

What does getting promoted mean, to what position and in what company? If getting promoted is on your goal list, check out my Amazon #1 Best Seller PROMOTABLE.

It's tough to commit to these because they're just wishes.

You can find out more about goal setting here.

new years resolutions are terrible for your success

New Year's Resolutions And You​

Happy new year! Everyone is thin​​​​king about, talking about, posting about their New Year's Resolutions. #newyearnewme #goals

We blog them, tweet them, Instagram them, snap chat them, Facebook them, unfortunately, the only things we don't do is achieve them. 

I'm glad they're called new year's resolutions because they are not goals. Nope, they're not goals. They're resolutions. And a resolution means you say you are going to do something. Unfortunately, for most people, they never get past the saying to the doing. 

But as often is the case. Those things never get done. New Year's Resolutions are kind of like groundhogs day; we continue resolving to do the same things year after year. 

I knew someone as I was growing up who had the same new year's resolution every single year. It became a running joke, and they were in on the joke, so it was no problem. To this day, that resolution stands undone.

So new year's resolutions, they aren't goals.

  • This year I'm going to eat more healthy. #fitandfabulous
  • This year I'm going to call my parents more. #familymatters
  • This year, I'm going to be more open. #theyearofme
  • This year I'm going to go to the gym seven days a week. #gymrat4life

Honestly, only that last one is close to being a goal, but it's not quite there. That's why new year's resolutions can be deceptive because they seem like they should be goals, but they're not.

And that's why most people throw their, their new year's resolutions out the door often by mid-February. What this means is that these weren't that important from the beginning. If they were important, they would have kept up with them; they would have made a plan and stuck with it.

We would have known there was a commitment that's required to achieve that goal. So what I want you to see is: new year's resolutions aren't goals.

Why New Year's Resolutions Are Terrible

They often do more harm than good. The problem with new year's resolutions is you're only thinking about making change in your life once a year. And if we live 365 days a year, which I'm going to argue we do accept and leap years, which we live 366 days, but if we live 365 days a year, then guess what?

We need to be thinking about our lives more often than once a year, around the holidays, when you're already preoccupied with vacation, travel, family, and food.

We end up just throwing together some slapdash resolutions that, more often than not, we already know we're never going to achieve.

I was conducting a workshop on goals, and I brought this up about new year's resolutions and how they're thrown away by mid-February. One person shouted out, "if they last that long."

6 Reasons New Year's Resolutions are Terrible

We don't believe we will accomplish them, but we say them anyway, and that's bad for a few reasons.

  1. New year's resolutions set you up to think about change only once a year.
  2. New year's resolutions set you up to fail because, as we've already stated, no commitment, no plan, no specificity.
  3. New year's resolutions condition you to believe you can't make progress. Because year after year, you try, then you fail. 
  4. The cycle of new year's resolutions set you up to believe you can't even achieve your own goals, which is probably one of the worst things that can happen. 
  5. New year's resolutions lead you down the path to even worse habits because you've reinforced the belief that you can't do it. You can't do better anyway. You can't achieve the goal. So why fight it?
  6. New year's resolutions finally kick off a cycle of cynicism and shame where you become less and less engaged in your success.

Because, if you don't believe you can achieve your goals, you never will.

Fundamental to your achieving your goals is your belief that you can. New year's resolutions have conditioned you to believe that you can't change. That you're not good to your word, that you can't stick to something long enough to make a change in your life. And I'm telling you right now, that's why I don't like new year's resolutions.

So if it's a love it or leave it? For me, it's definitely a leave it. It's a throw it in the middle of a field and set it on fire. I wish we never had new year's resolutions. I wish we changed that to new year's goals because then we would have something a little bit more tangible. But even then, I think looking at your life and changing your life and behaviors only once a year is way too little input to make any significant difference.

You've Achieved All Your Goals

So let's talk about your lifetime achievement award.

Congratulations. You earned it. You are a model citizen.

You're someone that people admire. You're someone that people want to be like; they want to emulate you. They are looking at you saying, "wow, if my life is only half as successful as yours was, then guess what? I will be great."

So here's the question I want you to ask. Here are the questions I want you to answer.

  • What are people saying about you at your award ceremony? 
  • How would you want them to describe you?
  • What stories are they telling about you that are like, yeah, that's so you. Yep, that's everybody's in on the joke because you've always been that way. You've been consistently that kind of awesome person.
  • What impact have you made on the people around you?
  • Who is in attendance?
  • Who's there singing your praises?
  • Who would you expect to be there and disappointed if they weren't there? 
  • What type of life have you lived outside of this moment that people are commemorating you?
  • What type of life have you lived?
  • What type of vacations have you gone on?
  • What type of impact have you had in your community?
  • What type of spiritual life have you led?
  • What type of financial situation are you in and leaving for those that come behind you? 

These questions are fundamental to clarifying your big picture vision of success.

Think about it from all of those areas. And here's the key. You get to choose. So choose wisely. Choose wisely. So here's where I want you to dream big. I want you to think about your lifetime achievement and your big picture vision of success from a very, big angle.

I don't want you to limit yourself to what you're doing now that you can believe you can do. I want you to push yourself a little bit into that realm where stretch goals live.

Your biggest successes lie just a little bit beyond your grasp. That's where your great achievements are waiting for you to find them.

Creating 1, 5 & 10 Year Goals

So let's talk about goals. The first step in achieving your goals will be to identify which goals you need to pursue. How do we get you on to that lifetime achievement award stage? How do we make that ceremony happen? 

Here are the things you want you to do over the next year. What goals do you think you can accomplish that'll move you closer? You're just writing down all of your wishes at this point.

written 1, 5, 10 year goals goal sprint steps to achieve goals

Don't worry about shaping them into the goals. We just need the ideas right now. We need all those wishes.

Write out 20 or 30 of things you would love to accomplish, that's right, 20 or 30 if you come 

up with more, outstanding!

I want you to label them 1, 5, or 10-year goals.

I want you to go back through all of those 20 or 30 goals or wishes right now and say what you believe you can accomplish in 1, 5, or 10 years.

Now you've got 30 wishes, each one of them should have a time frame next to them, one year, five years or ten years. And now what we're going to do is narrow it down. 

I want you to pick the one goal for each time period. So you will have 1-1 year goal, 1-5 year goal, and 1-10 year goal. 

Here's how you choose. Which goals will move you toward your big picture of success the fastest? Which goals do you want to accomplish and are willing to sacrifice to achieve?

By narrowing your list and focusing on three instead of 30, you can achieve your personal, professional stretch goals and dreams faster. 

What we're doing is we're now going from all the cool things in the world you could be doing to three goals that you want to accomplish. Now we're removing a lot of the overwhelm. We're getting a lot clearer. We're getting a lot more zoned in and specific about where you want to go and what you want to do with your life.

Now out of the entire universe of things you can do, you have just narrowed it down to three goals you will do.

Spread the love. I want you to have some of those fantastic goals, spread over one, five, and ten years because this is the way we move forward. Achieving your big goals begins with understanding what's most important to you.

Goal Achievement Plan

And that's why I was saying your goal achievement plan is going to be very personalized because it's yours, it's not mine, it's yours. It reflects what you want to accomplish. 

So by considering your lifetime achievement award ceremony, you were able to understand what's important to you quickly. Using that, we created goals that will help you become the person standing on the stage.

Now it's up to you, get to work on the worksheet, and answer the questions. Take time, write down all your wishes, all those things that have been lingering, whether it's going back to school or whether it's losing weight, whatever it is, write it down and give it a 1, 5, or 10-year time frame. 

What big goals did you decide to tackle over the next 1, 5, and 10 years? Share yours below. I can't wait to see them in the comments.

BTW, this is the first part of Goal Sprint: 7 Days to Clear Achievable Goals, should you want to complete the course, you can take the full course here.

Dr. David Arrington

David a husband, father and the principal of Arrington Coaching. He and his team work with leaders, teams, organizations, and entrepreneurs. He regularly speaks and writes on leadership development, team alignment, and peak performance.

All stories by:Dr. David Arrington