How to Achieve Any Goal
How to Achieve ANY Goal
Have you ever attended a seminar where you left feeling that “yes this time I am going to change and reach my goal”? I’ve attended a lot of seminars on business, motivation, personal finance, etc and I’ve read tons of books that give advice for how to improve. They seem to make it so simple, yet somehow when I would want to change, something would come up that prevented me from actually changing. I knew what to do, but couldn’t execute it. I see businesses get stuck here all the time; great strategy, great people, great ideas, but never really makes it happen.
Finally I realized what I was doing wrong. While it seemed like common sense, it is anything but common behavior. I couldn’t just get motivated, dream about achieving the goal, and then wait for it to happen. I had to take the steps, usually difficult steps, and I had to continuously work to move myself closer and closer to the goal.
In order to change, we have to get past the thinking and actually focus on the doing. What can I do to move towards the direction that I want to go? What am I currently doing that is taking me towards or away from my goals?
How do we get past thinking and get to doing?
I learned early in my business career that the best way for a business to succeed is to have solid business systems. Systems that can be incorporated that assure stakeholders that the company is consistently moving in the right direction.
But systems are not just something in business. We use systems to describe almost every aspect of our lives. There are a series of smaller systems that make up our larger body. We have a respiratory system, a digestive system, an immune system etc. If any one is out-of-whack then the whole system (body) is out-of-whack.
The earth is made up of similar systems. When it gets too humid and the clouds contain too much moisture it rains. Then when the air is too dry it absorbs the moisture. It stays in the atmosphere until the clouds of water become too heavy. Then the system repeats.
Even our habits are really just systems in disguise. Our morning routine, how we handle stress, what we do when we meet someone for the first time, are all systems. That is why as parents we are constantly trying to teach the right behavior to our children. That way they know to say thank you when someone gives them a gift or to avoid talking to strangers. How we spend money, what we do when adversity hits, how we exercise, what we eat, and how we perceive the world are all systems. You can label them as habits or tendencies or values, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they are, in essence, systems.
How to use systems to achieve your goals
Once you understand systems you can then evaluate the systems in your own life. If you find that every day you come home and sit on the couch for four hours watching TV and eating junk food, but really want to be healthy, you need to change that system. If you refuse to budget and find that you are slipping further and further into debt, understand that you have a flawed system that is taking you away from achieving your financial goals, not moving you towards them!
As soon as I start to talk about systems, someone usually misunderstands and thinks that this means becoming a programmed robot. This is actually the exact opposite of what I am saying. I am saying that you can either let your systems develop on their own without any regard for where they are taking you, or you can take control of the systems that will exist anyways and modify them to take you towards your goals.
If you really want to incorporate spontaneity in your life, you can do so easily with a systematic mindset. If everything is moving you towards your goals and one day decide to take a vacation or visit a buffet, you can. The systems in place will quickly take you back towards achieving your goals and you will be able to do these things without sacrificing your future goals or feeling guilty that you aren’t where you want to be.
The great thing about systems is that they can be designed to be flexible. They are just meant to take control of areas of your life.
There are several other principles to developing a good system. They are usually simple, step-by-step and repeating. The more complex they are the more likely you will not follow them. If they are not step-by-step it is too difficult to see how exactly this system is going to help you. If it isn’t repeating and consistent, then you are not able to turn it into a new positive habit and it becoming automatic.
I recommend that when you design systems to avoid trying to be robotic or controlling. Start simple and basic. The key is to start now and start with something easy that you can then turn into a habit. If you take a misstep or get back to old habits, don’t guilt yourself into getting back to it. Take on a lenient mindset and then decide to either get back to the system or change the system.
When I give speeches I often discuss the difference between being content and being complacent. This is crucial to being happy in life and important when you are utilizing systems to achieve your goals. Being content means that you accept the things in life and don’t need anything else to be happy. It doesn’t mean sitting around feeling that there isn’t any hope to get better. That is complacency.
There is a subtle difference between the two in definition but a huge difference in practice. The complacent person sits around unhappy and refuses to do anything to improve. The content person is always happy, even though they understand they can always get better. Learn to be more content and less complacent and you will be amazed at the difference it makes in your life.
In order to truly achieve any goal, you must understand and incorporate systems in your life. This will also help to determine if it is unreasonable. If you cannot put a system in place to achieve your goal or if the system requires too much sacrifice, you can understand that and avoid setting that goal.
If you are five feet tall and want to be in the NBA, the systems required of you will be extreme. It isn’t impossible but most people are not willing to spend their entire lives working harder than everyone else just to have a shot to reach that level. Most people that achieve great things go to extreme effort to work towards their goal, often making great sacrifices. Don’t sit back and say it is impossible, understand that the sacrifices just might not be worth it for you.
If you want to incorporate a system to achieve a goal or solve a problem, answer these four questions:
- What has to change or be implemented?
- How can I develop new processes that will effectively take me there?
- Is something consistent that I can incorporate or something that is a reaction to an external event?
- What are the steps to develop the series of processes that will be necessary to achieve the goal?
This changes the way you think and act. It helps determine what is reasonable; helps develop actionable steps to take, and helps to make achievement automatic. Most importantly, it gives you hope. It gives hope that you can achieve your goals. It gives hope that, yes, anything is possible. It gives hope that tomorrow can be better than today and improvement can happen.
Achieving your goals may not be easy, but a systematic mindset helps to make it possible!