How do you achieve your goals? The same way I did. In 2003, when I was 16 years old, I used to be 210 lbs with a size 38 waist. I never talked to girls, I was average in all of my classes and I never took risks. Though I didn’t know it then, I know now that I suffered from low self-esteem.
Fast forward 16 years, I’m now 160 lbs with a size 31 waist. I’m married to a wonderful wife. I graduated with an engineering degree and served as a troop commander for the Canadian Forces Reserves. Rather than self-doubt, I now look towards the future with hope and magnanimity as my brother and I expand Goldwyn & Sons.
How was this change possible? It was by setting, committing and achieving goals. Here’s the 2020 Ultimate Guide for achieving your goals, tried and tested.
How to achieve your goals
The change I experienced in my life was drastic, but it followed a formula:
- Set SMART goals
- Commit to those goals
- Follow a daily routine
How to set SMART goals
To achieve your goals, you have to set them up correctly. In the November 1981, George T. Doran wrote an article in the Management Review journal [ref] describing how to do just that. Your goals should be:
- (S) Specific
- (M) Measurable
- (A) Assignable
- (R) Realistic
- (T) Time-Bound
Unless you follow this setup, it’ll be near impossible to achieve your goals. Why? If your goal is vague, you won’t know the target. Be it immeasurable and you won’t know when you’ve reached it. Make it so that it can’t be assigned, then no will take responsibility for it. If it’s unrealistic (see below), you’ll give up midway. Don’t set a dead line and you’ll keep pushing it to tomorrow.
However, if your goal is specific, you’ll know the target. Be it measurable and you’ll know when you’ve reached it. Make it assignable and you can follow up with the right people. If it’s realistic, you know it can one day be in your grasp. Set a dead line and you can’t push it off for too long. Set it up right, and you’re half way to achieving your goals.
Examples of SMART goals
In university, my goal was simply to “work out when I could”. It met none of the criteria, and I never lost a pound. However, in my mid-twenties, my goal was to “complete 5 sets of sprints across the soccer field every morning at 5:30 am”. It was specific, measurable, assignable (to me), realistic and time-bound. Within 3 months, I dropped 30 pounds.
A few years ago, my cousins asked me join them for the Spartan Race. I can still recall how intensely I trained for that day. I learned how to climb a 100 foot rope by practicing in my basement. The reason was because the goal was SMART. I knew what obstacles I had to overcome, so it was specific. I knew how many obstacles there might be and how many reps I had to practice for, so it was measurable. It was assignable and realistic. But the biggest thing was that it was time bound. The Spartan Race wasn’t going to move its date because I wasn’t ready. I had no choice but to be ready.
SMART goals rely on others
In the case of achieving your goals, the goal is assigned to you. But, you may still have to rely on others. In university, I struggled through many of my engineering courses, but I never sought out help. In my last year, I knew this wouldn’t work. So, I went to one of my professors for assistance. He did everything he could and I was able to make it through the course (Quantum Physics). There’s nothing wrong with asking others for help. It takes courage.
Your long-term goal must be unrealistic!
In many cases, your goal must be realistic, within reach, if you want to achieve it. However, that’s only for short-term goals. Your long-term goal should be unrealistic. They should be dreams, goals so difficult to achieve it would take 3 generations to see it through. Why? Unrealistic long-term goals set us up to achieve our potential far more than realistic long-term goals do. Make one unrealistic long-term goal and break it down into realistic short-term goals.
For example, if you come from a poor family whose parents never went to post-secondary, if your long-term goal is to get to university, which is realistic in this country, what happens after you graduate university? Many times, people stop. But, there’s so much more potential in you!
If, however, your goal is to help build a station on Mars, which is currently unrealistic, once you finish university, your goal compels you to go into post-graduate studies, then to the air force, then to GE, Macdonald, Dettwiler And Associates, CSA, NASA, and finally SpaceX. Once in you get into SpaceX, your goal compels you to climb the ranks, build satellite rockets for Mars, then rover missions for Mars, and finally the first manned rocket to mars in which you, your son or your grandson is the mission commander. By the time you retire, you’ll have achieved the unrealistic, the impossible. But it was possible because you broke it down into realistic short-term goals.
How to commit to your goals
The difference between being committed and uncommitted
Awesome! You set your goal. But what about your mind? You now have to commit to achieving your goal. This takes significant mental strength. Hear me. When trouble comes, you will have one of two thoughts:
- How do I get out of this?
- How do I get through this?
The difference between the first statement and second, is that the first is uncommitted and the second is committed. If we’re uncommitted, we sleep in instead of working out or watch TV instead of studying.
I remember giving a talk at an institution, and shortly before arriving, I was so nervous I asked myself why I was doing this and if there was a way for me to leave. I wasn’t committed (but I still gave the presentation). However, in my marriage, if times get difficult, I always ask, “How do we get through this?”, because I’m committed.
Commitment is the reason marriages survive, how giant buildings and expansive bridges are built and how we landed on the moon! Commitment is necessary to get through the hard times. If you want to achieve your goal, you need to be as committed to them as you are to your loved ones.
And that requires one thing: a damn good reason.
How to find the reason to keep going
I know people with great business ideas, but because their reasons for pursuing it are weak, when they get burned out at work or family issues dry up their energy, they have no motivation to work on their goal. Therefore it never gets done.
When I was in the army reserves, I had no trouble exercising every day. I never wanted to be last in morning PT (that was my reason), so I trained hard throughout the week. When it came to starting Goldwyn & Sons, the strongest reason I had to take the risk was that if I didn’t find out how to succeed as an entrepreneur while I still had the chance, then I could never support the charities I wanted to and I could never pass on this knowledge to my kids.
Your reason is everything! If your reason does not bring you to tears, you need a stronger reason. If your reason doesn’t make you want to get up in the morning before your family does, you need a stronger reason. Go into your room, close the door, play some epic music through your headphones and find a reason that clearly shows that it is more costly to fail this goal than to succeed in it.
7 steps to achieving your goals; your daily routine
Once you’ve set up a SMART goal and have committed to it for a damn good reason, you must set up a daily routine.
- Go to sleep early, early enough that when you get up, you get your 8 hours of sleep. Most people say you only need 5-6 hours of sleep, but if you cut your sleep short, your productivity in the morning is cut in half for at least an hour.
- Wake up early, at least 3 hours before everyone else.
- Spend the first hour in prayer, meditation, or reading. Use this time to remind yourself of your goals and why they are important.
- In the second hour, exercise hard for 30 minutes. This is not to get a six-pack, this is to condition your mind to discipline and pain. While exercising, listen to these motivational videos. It will help you overcome self-doubt throughout the day. After exercise, during the next 30 minutes, get ready for the day. Shower, change, eat breakfast, etc.
- In the third hour, spend 15 minutes breaking your day into modules and determining what you will do during those modules.
- Now, complete each module as they come along. Do this until nightfall.
3 tips for achieving your goals
Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.Dan Peña
Surround yourself with high performers. If your family or friends are dead-beats, dope-heads, or buckets, with no motivation, no reason to strive for the impossible, create some distance. Stay connected, help them out when they need you, but you don’t need to meet them every week. Rather, spend time with those who will compel you to push forward, just by being with them.
Never share a doubt.Dan Peña
Unless, it’s in prayer, you’re talking to your mentor, or you’re talking to someone who has done exactly what you want to do, don’t tell them your dreams or your doubts. They’ll only say something that’ll instill self-doubt in you. If you need help with a problem, talk to the person who can solve it, not the person who can mope with you.
The greatest story you should ever read is your biography.Ryan L. Mascarenhas
Write down your progress every day. If you haven’t done something incredible today, make sure you don’t make the same mistake tomorrow.
That’s it, you’re on your way. Make the impossible, possible. Achieve your goals. Achieve your dreams.
For more information:
- Learn about how to overcome the fear of failure
- Learn about one productivity trick to outpace everyone around you
- You can read this and other articles on LinkedIn.