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Achieving meaningful goals

Do you have goals, or do you have a to-do list?  There’s a big difference.

Goals are what get you to the big achievements that will help you change your situation in life.

A to-do list is just a bunch of tasks.  Some of those tasks help you reach your goals, but so many of them just keep you busy all the time.  You may feel like you never actually accomplish anything.

If you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels, or don’t even know what to do first to make that change that you want in your life, then it’s time to set some goals.

If your dreams seem impossible and out of reach, it’s time to change your mindset, and consider what’s possible.

Are you ready to stop feeling overwhelmed from just being busy all the time? Are you prepared to get to work on achieving some bigger goals in your life?  Check out these tips compiled from five experts, for setting and achieving meaningful goals.

1.  Define your Vision

If you were living your dream life, what would it look like?  This is where you get to imagine yourself being “wildly successful.”

Your Vision is your big WHY.  This is what you’re striving to achieve.

Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, authors of the book The 12 Week Year, describe the value of having a vision for your life:

Vision, when engaged properly, is the ignition switch and power source of high performance.  It is the all important why behind the things you do…  Vision has the power to enable one to confront and conquer fears, take bold consistent action, and live a life of significance.

Wow, right?!

Live a life of significance.

Sign me up.

The authors also say that the best visions are big ones, because nothing great was ever accomplished without someone first having a big vision:

So we challenge you to dream big and imagine true greatness for yourself.  Your vision should be big enough that it makes you feel at least a little bit uncomfortable.

Pause right here.  Get out a piece of paper, and start writing down your really big dreams.  Write down all of the things that you want to have, do, and be in your life.

Once you’ve got it all out, take those vague dreams and construct a personal vision.  Write down a statement that makes you feel inspired.

This is the life that fulfills your purpose.  This is the life you deeply desire.  If you have a task or a goal that doesn’t get you closer to this life, then get rid of that goal.

2.  Set goals based on what you want

Once you have your big Vision, it will be possible to set meaningful goals that will help you achieve your dreams.

How do you decide what those goals should be?  Well, what do you really want?

In her book, Pivot, Jenny Blake writes about how to think through those “next steps” in life.  Her advice is to focus on what you want.

A lot of times, we set goals because we want something to change. It’s easy to focus on what achieving the goal will help us to get away from.

For example, if you want to get a new job, you might think about all the negative stuff about your current job that you don’t want to deal with anymore:

  • I don’t want to work in a corporate cubicle job
  • I’m tired of being under-valued and under-paid
  • I hate my long commute

But it’s so hard to achieve a big goal without knowing what it is that you do want.

So, rather than thinking about what it is you’re trying to get away from by attaining your goal, focus on what you’ll get when you achieve it.

  • I want to work in a management role
  • My salary needs to be at least $x per year
  • I’d like to have the option of working from home once a week

Now you can create a solid goal that will help you get what you want.

3.  Break big goals into manageable steps

The next step is to take those big goals, and make them seem less overwhelming.

In her book The Difference, Jean Chatzky explains that big goals can seem daunting.  That’s why it’s important to break them down into manageable steps.

She gives the example of a really big goal, such as “Earn my MBA.”  To break this down, you might come up with the following first steps:

1.  Research MBA programs
2.  Apply to chosen schools
3.  Research financial aid options

And you would build from there, learning what the exact next steps will be as you move toward your goal.

You will feel much more able to accomplish the steps individually, and suddenly find yourself well on your way to achieving the goal.

Set your goals based on your vision, and create doable tasks that help you reach that goal.

4.  Review your goals regularly

It’s easy to get busy dealing with day to day living, and let progress toward new goals grind to a halt.  By regularly reviewing your goals, you can remind yourself of what you really want, and make sure you’re doing the important things you need to do to keep yourself on track.

If you find yourself off track, productivity expert Michael Hyatt recommends the running through “Three R’s:”

Recommit:  If you’ve lost track of why you’re trying to achieve a goal, review your motivations.  If it’s still something you want to do, recommit to the goal by reminding yourself why you’re doing it, and what’s at stake if you don’t achieve it.  (Refer back to your Vision!)

Revise:  Sometimes things change, or sometimes we learn as we go.  If your goal no longer makes sense as you originally planned it, consider how you can revise it.  Make it more appropriate for your circumstances and keep going.

Remove:  If you evaluate your goal and find that it just isn’t something you want anymore, it’s OK to let it go.  As Michael puts it, there are no “goal police.”  If a goal is no longer relevant, or it makes you feel defeated every time you think about it, remove it from your list, and set a new goal that does motivate you.

Michael also offers some great insight on how to be more productive.  He teaches that in order to know how to get better at getting things done, you need to understand where you are right now.

For a limited time, you can take his free Productivity Assessment.

If you want to your spend time well and live intentionally, this test helps you do just that.  At the end of the assessment, you get an analysis of your time-saving strengths, and also the areas of your life that could be more focused.

Productivity Assessment


5.  Realize roadblocks are part of the process

It is discouraging to hit a roadblock.  And you will hit at least one roadblock as you reach for goals that make you stretch yourself.  Try to remember that this is part of the process.

Learn what you can from it, decide how you need to adjust your plans, and then take the next step to continue on your path.

Robert Kyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad wrote:

“Keep going, even though you may encounter some setbacks along your life’s path.  If you will learn from each setback, rather than blame or make excuses, your wealth of knowledge will increase.”

As long as you learn from the process, and don’t allow yourself to stay stuck, you will gain something from every step on your path.

What does “wildly successful” look like when you get there?

Have you ever looked around and asked yourself, “How did I get here?”  I certainly have.  And that’s not always a bad thing, but sometimes you end up somewhere you don’t want to be, because you just let life happen and didn’t set clear goals.

To quote the authors of The 12 Week Year again:

If you don’t have a clear and compelling vision, you’re not living a life by design, but by chance.

Setting goals is a great way to create a life roadmap.  It helps you make a plan for what you want to accomplish, and where you want to go.

Dream big, and don’t let anyone stand in your way.

Expert tips for achieving goals

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