Spoiler alert: There are no such steps to achieve any goal.
All goals, especially bigger ones or life goals, are very specific. There is no one-fits-all approach that guarantees success. But there is guidance.
There Is No Master Plan for Your Life
If your goal is to visit the TV tower in Berlin, the steps are quite clear. Depending on where you live it gets more or less complicated but you can make a clear plan. You book a flight to Berlin, book a hotel and then you travel to Berlin and visit the TV tower.
But what if your goal is to travel the world in order to learn about different cultures?
In the first example, if all goes well you will end up on the TV tower in Berlin. This is clear and specific.
In the second example the end result is not clear at all. You can travel to 50 countries or to five. You can meet real people, taste local food and experience the culture or you just see the staff, bars and pools in different hotels and do some guided tours. Both might be fine depending on what you want. Of course, you will plan the journey according to your preferences and objectives. However, the point is that the end result is not clear at the beginning.
Planning vs. Exploration
For many goals there are clear plans or instructions available. If you want to learn Spanish you can buy a book and sign up for a Spanish class and then you follow the lessons.
However, for many other things there is no pan (yet). Or, you can decide not to follow the plan and try a new approach. That’s risky, yes, but this is how progress works. If you have big goals or life goals this is a path no one has ever gone before. It is your path and you decide what direction to take on each path.
It is kind of like going for a guided tour or trying to explore a new city by yourself. In the first case you have a brochure and you know what to expect. In the second case it is all open. You can just go into the first coffee shop and meet the love of your life or you go from place to place, end up in a bar and next morning you cannot even remember what you have seen.
How Specific Should Your Goal Be?
Do you need to have a clear end result in mind when setting goals? The SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) way of goal setting suggests this. And yes, it is certainly good if you know what you want. On the other side it is also important to be open for adaptations on the way. This might be necessary because of obstacles on the way. Or, it can be related to yourself. Maybe your goal has changed a bit. In this case it makes sense to adapt even if this means that you need to go back some steps.
What about the five steps? As mentioned before, there are no such steps. At least not in a five-fit-all manner. However, in order not to leave you too disappointed, here come five (plus two) general considerations you can use as a guide for finding and achieving your goals.
0. Finding Your Goal
If you already know your goal, good. If not, you might want to take some time to find out. Because if you have no goals or if you do not work on your goals, you will inevitably work for other people’s goals. Chances are that you regret this at the end of your life. There are plenty of ways how you can find your goals and what really matters for you. For more information you may want to check out our free goal-setting eBook.
1. Know Your Why
As Simon Sinek describes in his eye-opening book “Start With Why” it is important that if you start something that you know why. If you have a goal and you want to achieve it ask yourself, why. And if you have the answer, ask why this answer is important for you. Do this five times. This trick will help you to learn about your deepest motivation behind your goal.
2. Make a Plan
If you know your goal and your why you can start making a plan. You can use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound) goal setting and then just mention the steps to achieve your goals on a sheet of paper or in the VidaGoals app. Keep it simple and open for adaptations on the way. Also, try to foresee possible obstacles and suitable solutions. And always be clear about your next action.
3. Start and Take Action
Do not plan too much, do not over-plan but rather start doing. Your plan should provide small actionable tasks. Go ahead and execute them, one after the other. And again, always know your next action.
4. Keep Going
This is a hard one as many New Year’s Resolutions start with a lot of motivation but then fade out by mid January. It helps to remember your Why and always keep your next action in sight. Regular reviews help you to check whether you are on track or if you need to adapt.
5. Take Care of Your Environment
Like a flower cannot grow when it is too dry, too dark or too cold also you need a supportive environment and supportive people for your goals. Think about what you can change, small things or habits, to make it easier for you to achieve your goals. This might be something as simple as keeping your jogging shoes handy or locking the cookie jar away.
Bonus: Achieve and Celebrate
Achieving your goal is not the end. It is a milestone on your journey through your life towards your life goals. However, if you have achieved a goal or a milestone, take some time to look back and to learn and yes, to celebrate your success. Also, put not too much pressure on yourself. It is important to have fun on your journey. Happiness will not magically come when you have achieved your goal. Rather, it is a helper for your success.
Now It Is Your Turn
Go ahead and schedule one hour in your calendar to work on your goals. No matter if you are in the finding, planning, executing or reviving phase. Schedule the time to work on your goals. Do it now. Your goals deserve it. Your life deserves it.
Do you need some help? In our free VidaGoals eBook (PDF and ePub) you can find information, tips and tricks all about goal setting. And our free VidaGoals android app can be your goal-setting companion and help you with finding, planning and reviewing your goals on the go.