Goals

15 Bulletproof Strategies for Achieving Your Goals

Mom used to tell me I could do anything I set my mind to. Mom was right.
15 Bulletproof Strategies for Achieving Your Goals
Image credit: Martin Barraud | Getty Images
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Everyone has goals in life. We all want to achieve something, big or small, no matter who we are. Yet, we don't always have the wherewithal to see things through. We don't always have the grit to get past the tough times and push through the pain to achieve our goals. 

Often, we throw in that proverbial towel. We call it quits and give up. We say, things like "never again," "not another moment" and "I'm done!" When you reach that tipping point, it's hard to go back. But, we aren't all like that. Some of us are more adept at achieving our goals than others, learning to move past failure.

In a world filled with on-demand everything -- an instant-gratification society that's used to having whatever we want, when we want it -- how are we supposed to see things through? How are we supposed to achieve our goals when every last fiber of our being is calling for us to give up? 

How to achieve your goals

Achieving any goal in life isn't just about setting clearly defined goals and wanting them badly enough. You also have to deploy the right strategies for actually achieving them. If you don't go about it the right way, then no matter what you want or how badly you think you want it, you won't see things through. 

Implementing the right strategies to see things through isn't a complex or intricate task. What it does require is consistent and persistent action. It requires throwing caution to the wind and enduring tremendous amounts of pain and struggle today in order to reap the rewards tomorrow. 

As long as you take the right approach with the right frame of mind, you will see things through. It's only a matter of time. Even if you feel discouraged along the way or you hit a few road blocks, you'll learn how to push through. You'll learn how to navigate around the hurdles by implementing the right strategies to succeed in the long term rather than trying to make things happen quickly. 

The truth is, big goals take a long time to achieve. It doesn't happen overnight. And it often doesn't happen within the timeframe that we set. But it does happen as long as we don't relent to failure. No matter what you want out of life, you'll get there as long as you implement the right strategies at the right time, and stick it out long enough to see things through.

Related: Hillary Clinton on Why Failure Should Not Hold You Back

1. Set SMARTER goals.

Anyone that's serious about achieving their goals needs to understand the importance of the SMARTER goal-setting method. The SMARTER acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated and re-adjusted. It's a strategy for setting your goals that will result in a high probability of success. 

In order to set a SMARTER goal, you need to get highly specific about that goal. Describe it down to the very last detail, ensuring that it's measurable and achievable. While lofty long-term goals are okay, SMARTER one-year goals, for example, should be something that's slightly out of reach but still attainable. 

Relevant means the goal must be in harmony with your values and beliefs and attuned with who you are deep down inside. Time-bound simply means that you've assigned a specific calendar date to its achievement. And as you work towards the goal, you must evalute and readjust your plan to achieve it. 

2. Create a plan of action.

Planning is one of the most important strategies associated with the achievement of any goal. Yet, many of us fail to create detailed and intricate plans to realize our dreams. We have some abstract notion in our minds that will only get us part of the way there, but it won't help to bring those goals into fruition. 

Anyone who is serious about a goal needs to create a massive action plan and has to be willing to take action on a daily basis -- every single day without fail -- in order to reach their heart's desires. Make a plan and obsess over it, working on it tirelessly, day and night, until you reach your goals. 

3. Eliminate bad habits.

Clearly, bad habits can hold us back from achieving our goals. They stifle our progress and get in the way of our hopes and our dreams. Anyone who is intent on achieving anything worthwhile knows that they need to stamp out the bad habits that hold them back. 

While eliminating bad habits is a difficult thing to do, if you can find a reason that's stronger than the habit itself, you can overcome it. It doesn't happen quickly or painlessly. It happens slowly, over time. But, by eliminating your bad habits, you can easily illuminate a pathway for eventually reaching your goals. 

4. Instill self-discipline.

Self-discipline allows us to put our goal achievement on cruise control. To the person who is disciplined, anything is possible. To the person who lacks self-discipline, any menial task can seem too daunting to do. The surest road to becoming a self-disciplined person is through your habits. 

By instilling the right habits into your life, you can become self-disciplined. Habits such as waking up early, practicing gratitude, eating healthy, exercising and getting ample sleep help to instill that much-needed self-discipline into our lives. With the right set of habits in your life, anything is possible.

5. Mitigate your distractions.

Distractions interrupt our progress, yet the world is full of distractions. The most common distraction comes in the form of always-on pocket computers that offer an intimate connection to the world's vast annals of information. Considering that smartphones and social media have upended industries and commerce, along with how we interact with one another, it's no wonder it's become harder and harder to stay productive during the day. 

You have to learn to cancel out the noise. Consciously becoming aware of the distractions that are all around you, then working to cut them off, is certainly one strategy for achieving your goals. Turn off the phone, the internet and the television, and slip into a world where you're purely focused on the task ahead. 

Related: 5 Big Distractions That Sabotage Your Entrepreneurial Success

6. Leverage daily goal setting.

Daily goals are a great way to stay focused and on-track towards your long-term goals that are years and years away. It's easy to lose sight of those big goals when we're struggling with a moment-to-moment basis not to drown in our own responsibilities. However, those daily goals provide markers that are easier to stick to and focus on. 

This strategy calls for setting the goals every single morning without fail. What will you accomplish and achieve today? Take your month-long goal or your 12-month goals and break them down into milestones. Whatever it is, as long as it's measurable, and you break it down into what you need to achieve that day, it's easier to stay on track. 

7. Avoid procrastination.

Procrastination is the silent killer that keeps us from achieving our goals. It stifles our progress and forces us to retreat into the clutches of comfort and habit. Everyone knows that in order to achieve anything worthwhile, you have to stamp out procrastination. Take action rather than wait another day or moment to do what should be done now. 

One strategy for taking action and avoiding procrastination is to use the 15-minute rule. Set a timer on your smartphone for 15 minutes, and commit to doing the one thing you've been putting off for the longest. Only for 15 minutes -- no longer. The commitment is too small to fail, and once you do take some action, you've just created a bit of momentum. You might just keep going after that. 

8. Manage your time.

One strategy for achieving anything in life is to become an effective manager of your time. Those that can best manage their time can achieve the loftiest goals. In order to do this, you need to institute an effective system for managing the precious little time you do have rather than squandering it away. 

Implement the quadrant time management system, which splits your time up into four separate quadrants. Focus as much as your efforts as possible on Quadrant 2, while doing everything in your power to avoid Quadrant 4. Audit your day to see how much time you're spending in each of these quadrants. 

9. Chase the frog.

Mark Twain once said, "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." He was referring to the big-ticket items on your to-do list, the ones that would provide the most benefit towards your long-term goals. We also call these our MITs, or the most important tasks of the day

In this strategy, you're chasing the frog by tackling your MITs first thing in the morning. Be sure to take on those big Quadrant 2 tasks at the start of the day so that you can get them out of the way. While you might not see immediate results from your actions, it does add up over time. Do it nice and early when you're freshly rested. 

10. Implement the Pareto Principle.

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20-Rule, states that 80 percent of the results comes from 20 percent of the efforts. In sales, this also means that 80 percent of the sales comes from 20 percent of the customers. However, this dives even further to show that, within the 20 percent producing 80 percent of the results, 20 percent of that subset also produces 80 percent of the results. 

The point? Focus your attention on scaling out the small set of efforts that are producing the biggest results. To engage in this strategy, you first need to identify which efforts are actually producing the biggest gains. But, once you do, all you need to do is scale out those efforts out. 

11. Welcome failure.

While some might not think this is a strategy for achieving anything, failure is by far one of the surest pathways to success in any endeavor. And, some of the world's most famous people have failed many times. The difference between them and the next person is that they didn't give up. 

Learn to welcome failure when it comes knocking on your door. Accept it. Understand it. Learn from it. Then move past it. Leverage your failures as learning experiences so that you can start fresh and do it again. Henry Ford once said, "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."

12. Seek out daily doses of inspiration.

While we might all want to achieve something monumental in life, as much as we might try to stick it out and see things through, we often get discouraged. As soon as that happens, the negative-thinking gears begin turning and the what-if doomsday scenarios begin playing out in our minds. 

Fear becomes that stalker in the night, ready to suffocate us and stave us off from achieving our goals. To counteract that, you need to seek daily doses of inspiration. Reach out to others who have achieved the success you're going after. Listen to their stories, and get inside their heads. What was it like for them to endure failure after failure? How did they bounce back and achieve their goals? 

13. Find a mentor.

Navigating the turbulent seas of commerce and business can be catastrophic at best. We don't always know the right direction to sail in. And often, our ship can take on water and sink when we don't know the next steps to take to stay afloat. Finding a mentor can help you survive and reach the shores of hope. 

Mentors help to shine a light, illuminating a pathway towards success. Like a beacon in the night, shining brightly through the misty fog, they help us to reach our goals. They know which direction to travel in and how to circumvent often-perilous waters to ensure survival and ultimate success. 

Related: The Most Powerful Advice Entrepreneurs Ignore

14. Track your progress.

If you're serious about achieving anything, you need to track your progress. When you track, you can evaluate and adjust your progress to reach your goals. When you don't track, you have no clue where you are, how far you've come or just how much you have left to go. 

Setup a system for tracking. If your goals are measurable, then they're trackable. Track them every single day. Similar to how a plane would chart and track its progress from moment to moment, you need to track your own progress to ensure that what you're doing is working. Without meticulously tracking your goals, you're wasting your time. 

15. Welcome criticism. 

People are often critical of others, especially when they see them experience a bit of success. They try to chop you down and when you do actually fail, they're there to call you out on it, telling you that you should have never tried to achieve that lofty goal in the first place. 

You should welcome that criticism. Don't run from it. Listen to what they have to say, and allow it to fuel you to achieve your goals rather than to hold you back. We all fail. The more we fail, the more chances we have to succeed. If you want something bad enough, then it shouldn't matter what anyone has to say about it. Use it to drive and push you forward rather than to hold you back.