4 Step Guide to Achieving Your Goals

Turn your ideas into achievable goals with this easy to follow

Anyone who has achieved success began with a goal. An idea came into their mind, stayed there for a while until it was transformed into a target to work towards. The key to their success wasn’t a wish, it wasn’t a hope, but a concrete goal they aimed to achieve.

Now for yourself, I’m sure there are ideas floating around in your head you wish to see come to fruition. Yet, for the most part, they will remain as ideas, unless acted upon in a deliberate manner.

Goal setting is a valuable skill, no matter your sport, profession, or aspirations. It’s the ability to brainstorm a desire and materialize it into the world. The greatest achievements began as ideas, only made tangible once put into action through goal setting.

The Psychology Behind Goal Setting

Goal setting can be defined simply as putting forth an action plan to achieve a desired outcome.

It’s a guide we create for ourselves, aimed at the attainment of any desire we can picture in our minds. Every goal begins as an idea thought up in your head. That’s why goals are considered pathways to turning the invisible into the visible.

From a psychological perspective, goal setting provides tremendous value beyond the attainment of an outcome. The process required to achieve your goal generates opportunities for growth and cultivates a strong mindset.

In the beginning, you think it’s the outcome you’re after. But the more you work towards your goal, the more you are forced to adapt and level up who you are, the greater the realization that goals provide an avenue for becoming the person you want to be.

Utilizing goal setting is associated with many positive benefits, the reasons being:

Goals Keep Us Value Driven

To create an effective goal, it must be aligned with your values. Your values are made up of what you hold as important in life.

The reason goal setting and values are so closely related is due to the fact that you are unlikely to set a goal that doesn’t match the values you hold in your heart.

Your values are going to drive the ideas in your mind which morph into practical goals. For example, if being healthy is one of your core values, you will set goals that align with becoming a healthier version of yourself.

When you set goals based on values, the likelihood of achieving them increases. Since they align with your internal beliefs, your mind and body will be working in congruence to make the goal a reality.

Goals Force You To Set Priorities

Focus is an important piece of success. But what happens when your focus is divided among different commitments and interests? This can make it difficult to put forth the needed effort towards achieving what you want.

This all changes when you begin to set goals. Having a clear outline of what you want to achieve, and a plan to get there forces you to set priorities in your life.

You’ve defined what needs to be done on a daily basis, in order to put yourself in the best position to attain your desires.

Now, other activities that used to seem important all of a sudden lose their appeal. Your focus is fixed on achieving your goal, leading to all your energy being directed towards the priorities that will get you there.

Goals Lead to Personal Growth

There is a benefit obtained through goal setting which far outweighs any achievement you attain. In working towards a goal, the personal growth you experience will be greater than any material success you gain.

When we set goals, they are targets that are beyond our current grasp. As a result, there is a need present to improve who we are in order to become the person capable of achieving the goal.

This results in self-evaluation, followed by self-improvement. It’s not always easy to take an objective view and see the areas of our lives that need improvement.

However, it is only through this process of humility that we can grow.

Working through adversity, self-doubt, and all the negative thinking that surfaces when seeking a goal will lead to greater levels of self-confidence, self-worth and ultimately, help you become the best version of yourself.

“There is a benefit obtained through goal setting which far outweighs any achievement you attain. In working towards a goal, the personal growth you experience will be greater than any material success you gain.”

Goal Setting Breakdown

Goals are valuable roadmaps we create for our own lives. They provide us with a vision and purpose each and every day.

However, goals remain only as lofty ideas until broken down into a step-by-step process. I’ve made the mistake, as I’m sure you have as well, of stopping my goal-setting process with a broad idea.

Your initial idea is only the first step, and it’s why many people fail to achieve their goals. Setting goals for yourself does not need to be complicated, but it does require specificity.

You want to get as specific and detailed as possible. That way, there will be no guessing as to how your goal will be achieved.

Step #1: Set Your Large Goal

The first step in this goal-setting process is where you want to set your large goal. Here you want to think about what it is you are seeking to achieve.

Start with a broad category, such as health or finances. Now, begin to narrow in on what exactly you wish to attain.

For example, maybe you’re wanting to get into better shape. Okay, what does that mean for you? Are you referring to better running condition, or are you wanting to gain more muscle mass?

A discussion on setting your large goal would not be complete without mentioning SMART goals. It’s a process that helps to ensure your goals are as clear and practical as possible.

I like to use them for setting a large goal because if done correctly, it helps the rest of the process go much smoother.

Here’s how to set a SMART large goal:

  • Specific: get very clear on what it is you are working towards.
  • Measurable: make sure the attainment of your goal is measurable, meaning you’ll know when it’s accomplished.
  • Attainable: the goal pushes you, but is still relatively achievable for yourself.
  • Relevant: the goal is relevant to you and your values in life.
  • Time-Bound: make sure you give yourself a certain time frame to achieve the goal.

Once you’ve outlined your large goal, using the SMART process, you should have a clear picture of what you’re working towards, how you’ll know it’s been accomplished, and in what amount of time you wish to do so.

It’s now time to move forward with our goal breakdown. These next three steps are going to help ensure the attainment of your large goal.

Step #2: Reverse Engineering

“When we reverse engineer something, we begin with the end in mind. We examine the outcome we wish to see happen, then figure out how to get there.”

After deciding on your large goal, you need to ask yourself, “How can I turn this goal into a reality?”

What does the path to achievement look like?

When we reverse engineer something, we begin with the end in mind. We examine the outcome we wish to see happen, then figure out how to get there.

Think of this as though you’re taking apart a piece of machinery. It’s already built, and you’re seeking to understand the process of putting it together.

So, you begin taking the machine apart, piece by piece. With each piece you remove, further understanding is gained as to how it was made.

By the time you’ve taken the whole thing apart, you have a good idea of how to put it back together.

The same goes for your large goal. Begin peeling back each layer of your goal. You know what you want to achieve, now look at each step you need to take to get there.

Do not leave any stone unturned. Even if you think a step is too simple to plan or too mundane to schedule, think again. Every minute detail is vital to the success of your goal.

When reverse engineering your goal, it will help to break it down into even smaller goals, aligned at the attainment of the larger one.

Step #3: Monthly/Weekly Goals

The next step, after you’ve figured out what steps need to be taken in order to accomplish your goal, is going to be scheduling monthly and subsequent weekly goals.

Your monthly goals are going to be the large targets pushing you towards the ultimate goal. To make this simple, let’s say you give yourself a year’s time frame to achieve your large goal.

During the reverse engineering phase, you will have generated twelve markers or targets that will ensure you will be on the right track for accomplishing your goal by the end of the year.

These will be your new monthly goals. From there, break them down even further into weekly objectives. Your weekly goals will be aligned with your monthly goals.

If you follow your plan correctly, your weekly goals aid in the accomplishment of your monthly ones, which are propelling you towards the achievement of your ultimate goal.

But there is one more step you must take, to ensure with even more certainty your large goal will be accomplished.

Step #4: Outline Daily Goals

Now that you have your monthly and weekly goals set, your sights need to be turned towards the activities you’ll do on a daily basis.

The daily goals you set will only be targeted towards your weekly objectives. This is due to the trust you have in your goal setting process.

If you performed the reverse engineering properly, setting your monthly and weekly goals, your daily activities only need to be focused on what you wish to accomplish each week.

When setting daily goals, a planner or calendar is the best tool you can use. It may seem simple, but it’s phenomenal at keeping you on track and ensuring you’re doing what you need to each and every day.

At the beginning of each week, outline the activities you need to complete in order to achieve the targets for that week.

Once you decide on the activities you need to do, it’s time to schedule them throughout the week.

Plan your week according to the commitments you have and all that you wish to accomplish. You’ll now have a clear outline of the activities that must be done each day, resulting in the achievement of your weekly goal.

Final Thoughts

Goals begin as ideas. Every goal anyone has accomplished started as a thought in their minds of something they would like to see happen.

From there, two things can happen. Either the idea stays as such, never turning into a tangible success in your life, or you turn that thought into an actionable goal.

If you want to see your idea transformed into a goal, you need a plan to follow. Take your initial idea and turn it into a specified goal using the SMART goal setting process.

Next, reverse engineer that goal, figuring out how it will be accomplished.

Now you must break it down further into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

If you do this correctly, your daily activities will help you accomplish your weekly objectives, leading to the attainment of your monthly targets, pushing you towards the achievement of your large goal.

By following these steps, no goal seems too outlandish or difficult to achieve. It all boils down to your ability to break down the large goal into smaller, more manageable steps.

What goal setting process do you use? Let me know in the comments below.

If you have any questions about goal setting or any other performance psychology topic, please feel free to reach out to me.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you did, please feel free to share it with others.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

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Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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