3 Steps to Setting (and Accomplishing) Your Goals

by Joe Sesso on July 9, 2018

I’ve always been a big believer in setting goals. As a person who still uses an actual day planner (I love crossing off stuff that I complete!), I find that setting goals, and more importantly writing them down, gives me both my destination (the goal) and the road map (the written goal). But I had a breakthrough recently that helped me take my goal setting to a whole new level. I’ll share that with you in a bit, because that alone will not help you accomplish your goals. It still needs to be paired with the basics. So here are my three steps to setting goals that you can accomplish this year.

1. Set Challenging but attainable goals

I have found over the years that there are two types of approaches to setting goals. One is to set goals that are so far in the stratosphere that they will never be attained no matter how hard the person works. I was working at a trade show a few years back and the manager was asking the sales team what there goals for the show were. The all-time sales record was $120,000. The sales reps began shouting there goals back to him: “$100,000, $110,000, $125,000.” The final sales rep on the team shouted, “$300,000.” The manager was so impressed that he applauded him for being so ambitious. The sales rep ended up with $120,000 in sales, which was a solid number, but way off the goal of $300,000. I asked the rep if he was disappointed that he missed his goal by so much. He snapped back to me that he had just had one of his best shows ever. For him, it was never about reaching a goal. He thought it might impress his manager (it did) but he knew that he would never reach it. Did $300,000 really motivate him to sell $120,000? Probably not. If he would have set his goal for $120,000, he probably would have felt better about his performance, because he reached his goal on the last day of the show. And while his performance was good, how can one feel good about missing a goal by over 50%?

The second type of approach is setting goals that are challenging to reach, but can be attained through hard work, persistence and discipline. Goals should never be easy. They should be difficult. But they should also be attainable if you put the work and dedication into accomplishing them. If you don’t attain your goals, you should be at least a little disappointed and ask yourself what you could have done better to achieve it. This is the approach I subscribe to. I know that if I don’t achieve some goals during the year, I always reflect on what I could have done better to achieve them. Most years, I achieve about 80% of the goals I set. They are always challenging, but they all are attainable.

2. Write Them Down

Goals are just dreams if you don’t write them down. Writing goals down is important for two reasons: one is that you won’t forget them as the year goes along, and two it makes you accountable to complete them. I always type my goals up and then print them and post them on my wall. This makes it easy for me to see them every day, which keeps them front and center in my mind. It’s hard to NOT accomplish something when you are constantly being reminded of what your goals are for the year.

Another tip here is to break them up into categories. For example, I create five categories of life that I want to make better every year. They are: financial, business, physical, educational and personal goals. My physical category might include a couple of 5k races and getting my weight down to a certain number. I try to create 5-7 goals per category, but I do find that breaking my goals into categories makes it easier for me to follow.

3. Review Twice Daily

Reviewing your goals keeps them fresh in your memory. It also helps you develop a plan to edge closer to accomplishing them. So when are the best times to review your goals? First thing in the morning and last thing at night (or before you leave work). Reviewing goals in the morning helps you focus on what needs to get done that day to stay on track. Reviewing them at the end of the day recaps what you did and helps you determine if you have gotten any closer to accomplishing your goals. It also helps you set up your following day. The most productive people in the world always plan their next day before they leave the office. Trying to plan it when you get to your office in the morning wastes time and inhibits your focus. If you already know what you have to do before you even get to work, you will be so much more prepared for your day. You will be “dialed in” to what you have to do, and your productivity will skyrocket.

The secret tip: If you really want to visualize your goals, find a photo or image of what you want to attain. Then tape it to your wall or cubicle and look at it everyday until you realize your goal. Using the visual of the photo along with your written goals provides powerful imagery that can help you realize your goals even faster.

I recently gave a talk on goal setting to my team. I explained the importance of writing down ones goals and then taping them to your wall for daily review. I also explained the importance of using photos of your goal to help you get there faster. I told them of a new watch that I wanted and told them about the picture that was hanging in my office. Someone in the audience asked how close I was to earning it and I told them that I had already earned it but I hadn’t gotten around to buying it yet. It was at that moment that I realized that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. The next day I went to the mall and bought the watch. I’m proud to say that I’m wearing it as I’m writing this article.

The experience I just described was helpful in many ways. It helped me refocus and better prioritize my goals for the year. I have already accomplished 60% of this year’s goals, thanks to my renewed focus and visualization.

It’s not too late to set your goals for the year. Take some time to really think about what you wish to achieve. Make them challenging to reach, but not impossible. Try breaking your goals into categories. This will help you organize and prioritize them. Don’t forget to write them down and to post them in a location that you will see them everyday. And finally, print photos of places or things that you are hoping to visit or purchase if you achieve your goals and post them next to your goals. It will make a huge difference.

Questions about goal-setting? Reach out to me on my website, www.joesesso.com or on Linked In.


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