These 6 Small Steps Will Help You Achieve Your Biggest Goals If it seems like you can't reach your goals no matter what you do, having a plan can help you get back on track.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Everyone has goals. Whether practical or lofty, months-in-the-works or everyday accomplishments, setting and achieving goals are part of life. However, if it seems like your goals have been sidetracked or you haven't fully seen the fruits of your labor, it may be time for a goal reset.
Meeting our goals gives us the confidence and motivation to continue setting new ones and creating a type of life we've always dreamed of … but how do you get from where you are now to where you want to be? As the saying goes, "The road to success starts with a single step."
Here are six tips to help you get back on track and achieve your goals. Tailor them to your lifestyle and review them whenever you feel stuck on your way to success.
1. Be specific
The first step in achieving goals is to be clear about what they are. This is the kick-off to SMART goal setting. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. These areas are loosely woven into all goal-setting methods, but take what works for you and leave the rest behind.
When being specific about your goals, take a closer look at defining what that looks like. Rather than vaguely saying you'd like to make more money or lose weight, add in language that gives your goal direction. For example, specific goals may be, "increase income by 10% by the end of the year or lose 10 pounds in six months."
State what you want, then add a measurement or timeline behind it. It helps to envision the finish line you've set for yourself and what it'll take to get there.
2. Break goals down into smaller steps
Another helpful tip is to project plan your goals by breaking them down into smaller steps. For many, the visualization of seeing the milestones needed to reach a goal is helpful. Whether you prefer a digital to-do list or like to write your activities down with pen and paper, start big and then work backwards to start filling in the details.
Incremental steps create forward momentum, making your goal seem more attainable. If increasing your income is a goal, consider necessary steps to get there. It may include taking on more or better paying projects, increasing rates across the board for your services or goods and sunsetting projects or clients that don't provide a return that feels profitable.
In addition to building steps toward your goal, also assess and remove roadblocks that may be holding you back.
3. Track your progress
Once you've specified your goals and have broken them down into an actionable step-by-step plan, determine how you will track progress. A simple project-management system like Basecamp or Trello or a digital calendar through Google or Outlook can help you add in steps and due dates to get you one step closer to your goal.
Using these types of tools also provides motivation to stick with your plan. After you've crossed off a few action items, your goal starts to feel within reach. Think about people planning to run marathons. They don't run the full 26.2 miles right out of the gate. They have to train by starting with a few miles at a time.
With each milestone toward their goal, they must go further and faster. Whether or not they achieve it is how they track their progress. Building upon your progress in this same way allows you to feel better equipped to reach your goal by your targeted date.
4. Set a timeline
Setting a timeline is another valuable tip for achieving your goals. It's fun to think about what you want to accomplish "some day," but when you set an end date, all of a sudden the action has begun. A set timeline makes you become accountable and focused.
Many become stuck when on the path toward their goals because they stray from the timeline or de-prioritize what they initially set out to do. Fortunately, there are several, simple ways to improve your time management and free yourself from time wasters that take away from your goals.
5. Celebrate the wins
Even when on a good pace toward your goals, setbacks can occur. There will likely be hurdles along the way and situations that'll make it feel more challenging than you expected. Rather than using this as an excuse to stop, check in with yourself and celebrate how far you've come.
The time and effort you put toward your goals is an investment. When there's a delay or bump in the road, it doesn't take away from what you've already put into achieving your goal. By taking time to acknowledge the wins, big or small, it further solidifies your intention and purpose. Use them as encouragement to get you across the finish line.
6. Rinse and repeat
Once you've found a groove, take what works and apply it to your goals going forward. After you've achieved a goal, assess what went well, identify where you had problems and decide how you can improve the process going forward.
After all, getting what you want out of life is a work in progress. However, the more you can learn from your experience, the easier it will start to feel. Don't hold yourself back from all you're meant to do. Take the first step forward and commit to building a life you deserve.