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The concept of goal setting is nothing new for those in business. Touted by everyone from Tony Robbins to Oprah as being a necessary part of a high-functioning life, setting an intention and then doing what it takes to reach it is a necessary skill that everyone believes is important. But how many of us actually set goals that take us where we want to go and then arrive there?

One study says that as few as eight percent of people set goals that they later achieve. The study focused on New Year’s resolutions, but it nevertheless paints a shocking picture of how we as a society tend to flippantly set goals without ever having a true intention of fulfilling those dreams and plans.

So, what did the elite eight percent do to set themselves apart from their peers?

1. They Began with The Big Picture in Mind

People that consistently achieve their goals spend time considering what steps are necessary to get across the finish line. That means looking at all the little, tedious steps needed to get from A to Z and then plotting those steps – like a graph – across the timeline they have set up. They literally eliminate all of the guesswork, and in doing so they removed a majority of the barriers to success.

2. They Got Hyper-Specific

Setting a vague goal is a sure-fire way to kill your progress before it even begins. The less specific we are when setting a goal, the more wiggle room we give our subconscious self later on when we are running low on discipline and mental toughness. Instead of saying, “I want to increase revenue this year”, say, “In the first quarter of 2021, I will increase revenue by 12% by running targeted social media ads.” The difference in these two statements is that one is action focused and the other is more of a general statement. One provides a clear plan and the other is left open for a bland future interpretation of success.

3. They Surrounded Themselves with Unwavering Support

We were created for community. We crave connection. It is no surprise, then, that statistically those in the study that surrounded themselves with accountability were so much more likely to succeed. When you have people in your corner cheering you on, you will be able to find the strength to push on, even when you feel tired and discouraged.

4. They Used External Stimuli to Boost Their Focus

This is an interesting principle, but one that merits exploration. We as humans are visual, auditory creatures that depend on our senses to get us through the day. From vision boards to company slogans plastered across a wall, we like to be reminded of our purpose and intentions. It’s like a rallying cry at a football game, or a benediction offered up before a trying task. We are what we repeatedly remind ourselves of and surround ourselves with. There is a reason top athletes are taught to visualize success as part of mental toughness programs. Doing so has been proven to eliminate distractions and increase the probability of a successful outcome.

5. They Refused to Multitask

We are truly better when we focus on one thing at a time. Sure, we may not always fail when we multitask, but we also aren’t overly efficient, either. When it comes to effective goal setting, you can set yourself up for success by carving out time each day to focus only on the activities to achieve your goal. Whether that is losing weight, boosting sales numbers, or learning a new skill, you will find that you level up your life and hit your goals faster when you allow yourself the freedom to truly focus on the task at hand.

Effective Goal Setting Will Focus on the Main Areas of Life

Because I believe in work life balance, consider asking yourself: What are your life goals? What are your relationship goals? And what are your personal growth goals? These areas of our lives are foundational to what makes us tick. When we nurture them, we grow. When we avoid working on them and tending to them and breathing fresh life into them, they begin to shrivel up.

So, ask yourself:

  1. What are your life goals? If you want to hit those goals, you need to discipline your time and energy so you are heading in the direction that will actually make those goals a reality.
  2. What are your relationship goals? If it is important for you to be there for your loved ones, then how can you better structure your life to hold space for the people you love.
  3. What are your personal growth goals? Focusing on what makes you happy and fulfilled makes it easier to carve out space for mental, physical, and emotional wellness.
  4. What are your health goals? I believe everything revolves around our health. I know very wealthy people who would give up all their wealth to be healthy. Much of what we do and who we are revolves around our health.

Once you’ve thought through those things, take the next step and write down your specific goals. If you keep them in your head, they’re just dreams. Putting pen to paper adds a tangible element that will make you statistically far more likely to follow through.

“The most successful people believe that they have purpose and are destined to achieve that purpose one goal at a time.”  ~Anne Bachrach

Thanks to Anne Bachrach, The Accountability Coach, for sharing her thoughts.