Simple tips everybody can follow for goal setting and following through.

Probably just like you, I set goals for myself regularly.  And I have read quite a bit about how to reach goals successfully.  So, I’d like to distill down for you the tools and approaches I have found most helpful.  While there is no universal goal setting and goal success recipe, there are a few approaches that you should check out for fit.

You will surely recognize some of the steps below but might be surprised to learn that it was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” (The Original 1937 First Edition Text, 2015 Dancing Unicorn Books).  Hill’s goal example is about becoming rich, but the steps are the same for any goal you choose.  Book except has been slightly edited.

  1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.  It is not sufficient to merely to say “I want plenty of money”.  Be definite as to the amount.
  2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as “something for nothing”).
  3. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.
  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.
  5. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
  6. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning.  As you read – see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

When I read this, I quickly realized that there is no way I would make this commitment to some of the goals I had initially thought of.  But that’s the point.  As Hill states, here is where a burning desire will come to your aid.  Save this approach for the one burning desire you have and not just any goal.  Each of the steps Hill outlines has been supported by multiple studies since 1937 and is preached by coaching experts.  Have you heard Tony Robbins say “take massive action”?  Yep, that’s step #4.

Simple Yet Powerful
Most of our goals though are just that, goals, not burning desires.  This is where the approach by Sabina Nawaz comes to the rescue.  I will summarize here her “Break Bad Habits with a Simple Checklist” Harvard Business Review article published on February 10, 2017.  Nawaz advocates that you’re less likely to succeed if you don’t track and review your progress frequently and recommends using a simple tracking chart called the “Yes List” to help you see where you’re making progress toward change and where you may be falling short.  Check out her article for details and for a detailed example of how you put this to work. 

Never Fails
A goal is not a goal if it is not SMART.  Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Adopt SMART goals or accept that you are not setting goals but are rather operating in the wishful thinking realm.  You will find many variations to the SMART acronym; pick the one you like best, they are all good.  If you are not familiar with how to set SMART goals, this article will help you work through it.

Super Methodical
Being borderline OCD-methodical is not me but I know it’s some people’s strength.  If that’s you, you might want to check out the Freedom Journal by John Lee Dumas.  JLD has one of the most awesome entrepreneur podcasts out there called Entrepreneur On Fire (EOFire) and has so far interviewed over 1500 successful entrepreneurs through his daily podcast.  The Freedom Journal is designed to help you achieve your #1 goal in 100 days and is infused with discipline and accountability tactics from JLD’s days as an US Army Officer and what he has learned from the podcast interviews.

For the Visual Thinker
As a very visual thinker, I need to see the problem I am trying to solve or goal I am working on.  If that’s your style too, invest in a large, make that huge, whiteboard in your work space or use one of those special whiteboard adhesives or paint so you can transform your walls into a whiteboard.  I have used mind mapping online tools and other digital products but they have not worked as well for me.  I need to peel my eyes off the screen, rest them on my goal and think to truly be creative and productive.  I do use an online tool, Trello, to track progress that I would recommend if you like to see all (or most) of your work tasks in one screen.

There you have it!
A decade’s worth of reading and listening to topics on goal setting and ensuring goal success distilled down to a few actionable approaches.  Keep in mind though that there is no tool or approach that’s going to create your desire to accomplish your goal.  So before you do anything else, have an honest conversation with yourself about where that goal is coming from.  Is it coming from you or somebody else?  If it is coming from somebody else, let them make it their goal. 🙂  If it is truly yours, experiment with these approaches to find one that works for you. 

Feel free to send me an email at info(at) to chat about goal setting.