Setting goals is a way of actively seeking out your ambitions. But before you start starting to chasing your dreams, start by defining your goals.
If you do not have goals, make them up. Everything is better than having no goals at all. Even if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, you have a goal: Find out what you want to do with your life.
Some people tell me: “I’m just not an ambitious person.” No one is born with ambition or predefined goals. Ambition is a conscious decision to pursue growth in life, through experience or achievement.
Even if you have a purpose, without goals, your life is still aimless because your destiny can seem so far away or intangible.
We set goals because we can’t just sit around and hope that something good will happen to us. ‘Hope’ is not a strategy. Hope is for people who have high expectations but are not willing to do anything to make their dreams happen.
Here’s a way you can set goals that help you succeed in 8 steps.
1. Make Up Your Goals
Goals are made up, and if other people can make up goals, you can do it too. You think of something that you want to do and then you decide to do it—it can be that simple. You don’t have to be extraordinary to set goals for your life.
As Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest once said:
“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things — to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.”
2. Be Precise
It’s important to know what you’re working towards. As Pablo Picasso once said:
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
And to make a plan, you need to know exactly what you want to achieve. If you want to lose weight, you should decide exactly how much you want to weigh. If you want to achieve financial freedom, you should calculate how much money you exactly need.
3. Think Big
Don’t play it safe—a life that’s played safe is not a life worth living. Remove all limits you have in your mind and think about what you truly want to achieve.
“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
We’re our greatest enemy when it comes to goal setting. The voice in our head says, “that is way too outrageous,” too quickly. Turn that voice off and always aim high with everything that you do.
4. Set A Deadline
It’s important to determine when exactly you want to achieve your goal. A goal is pointless if you will achieve it “someday”. If you want to move to New York City one day; mark a day in your calendar.
For example June 1, 2018: move to NYC. Otherwise, your goal will float somewhere in the undetermined future. Chances are you will never accomplish a goal that has no deadline. In addition, looking at the date on your calendar motivates you to work toward your goal.
5. Decide What You’ll Sacrifice
Achieving goals without sacrifice is a myth. You can’t lose weight and eat whatever you want, whenever you want. You have to make concessions. Think about things that you have to sacrifice.
You don’t have to give up everything to accomplish your goals. If you want to lose weight, you can eat whatever you want on your ‘cheat day’. Commit to what you want to sacrifice and mentally prepare for it.
For instance, if you aspire to be a musician, chances are you have to travel to perform. Thus, mentally prepare for not seeing your family and friends all the time. Are you willing to make the sacrifice?
6. Track Your Habits
Habits are the basis of achieving your goals. Achieving success is not about hitting home runs. It’s about doing the right things, every day.
These apps let you set a goal you want to reach and will help you track your daily progress.
7. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Without an accountability system in place, we‘ll forget about our goals as quickly as we set them.
Have you ever set goals that you did not live up to? It’s not a big deal to forget about goals or New Year’s resolutions as long there are no consequences.
But what would you do if you would have to pay $100 to a charity you hate when you don’t stick to your goal? Research from Wharton demonstrates how effective this is because of the “Loss Aversion Theory”.
When it comes to taking risks, it is human nature to avoid the loss of something instead of gaining something.
This accountability method is also Tim Ferriss’s favorite way to stick to goals. You can do it with a website called www.stickK.com. On the site, you can commit money to a goal—if you fail, they will give that money to an anti-charity.
According to stickK.com statistics, 78% of users who put money down achieve their goals, compared to 35% of those who do not.
8. Review & Adjust
Review your goals at least once a month. The point is not to adjust your goals, but rather focus your daily actions. As Confucius once put it:
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
If you feel like you’re not making any progress don’t be quick to think you can’t do it. Focus on the steps you’re taking. If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to change your methodology.
In the end, setting a goal can be easy, but if you do it right, the goal itself will help you build habits that help you succeed.
As Roman poet, Ovid said: “Habits change into character.” And character is what you can rely on the most in life. Set an ambitious goal and start working on it—what do you have to lose?