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Reaching Your Goals: A Simple Way to Get Started

Let me ask you something: Did you set goals for 2016 on New Year’s Eve? You did? Ok, got it.

Let me ask you another question: How are you making progress with your goals? Already achieved? Awesome!

So if you have already reached your goals, then this post might not be for you.

Then again, if you haven’t even got started, if you are on the verge of dropping the ball, or you are about to quit reaching your goals, then read on.

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You can’t have it all - at least, not all at once!

The problem with goal setting, especially with the ones we set at the end of the year, is that we don’t necessarily have a clue what we are up against.

The reason is obvious. Just raise your hand, if any of the reasons below - from earlier years - sound familiar to you:

  • This year, things will be different and you make a “strong” promise to reach any goals you set.
  • A year is a long time. It’s 365 days and you can surely reach the objectives you have set in that time.
  • You underestimate the amount of time (or effort) it actually takes for you to reach your goals.
  • Setting goals or resolutions in a state of celebration and overwhelming happiness makes you to believe anything is possible in the next year.

Don’t get me wrong, I have fallen into those traps myself too only to find out year later that I didn’t reach a single goal I had set for myself.

You can’t have everything, at least not all at once. But if you decide to break your goals into smaller parts, things start to take a different route.

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It’s already March - It’s only March

One way to change the course of things is to take a strategic decision on what you really want to achieve this year. And in this decision, you have to simplify things quite a bit.

I have realized the focusing on one big goal at a time, rather than 10, is more reasonable and doable. And for this very reason, I have developed a simple system for setting goals for myself.

The system I’m talking about is called the SPW Method, and with it, you can really improve the likelihood of reaching your goals.

So even if it’s already (or only) March, you can still achieve a worthwhile goal in 2016 which makes a big difference in your life.

The SPW Method in 6 steps

Step #2: The Pareto Principle states that in order to get 80% of results, you have to focus on 20% of something. In other words, if your list had 8 goals, then ...

1

LIST YOUR GOALS

List all of your goals for this year in a list. Take the maximum of 15 minutes to do this with a help of a timer.

reaching_your_goals_goalsmasterlist

The person (ahem) who wrote this list should definitely include improved handwriting on it!

2

APPLY THE PARETO PRINCIPLE

The Pareto Principle states that in order to get 80% of results, you have to focus on 20% of something. In other words, if your list had 8 goals, then ...

  • ​Pick roughly 20% of them and put them in a separate list; these are your high-priority goals (HPG) for 2016.
  • Make a decision to pick just one of those high-priority goals to put your focus on. The ideal situation is that when you reach that one goal, you make it easier to reach other goals too (or even, it removes the need to achieve them in the first place). 

    So if your HPG list had two goals in it, just pick the one goal which has the biggest benefit to your current life right now (or for years to come).

    In this very case, if your list contained two goals, you may have acknowledged that starting a business is something you’d like to focus on this year. Because if (and when) it truly becomes that six-figure business, it would be easier to reach the other goals you wrote down on the big list (in step #1).
reaching_your_goals_hpg

Just focus on one goal at the time, the one, which has the biggest benefit to your life for years to come.

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3

DECIDE ON THE SIMPLEST STRATEGIC DECISION

Now that you know one goal to focus on, decide on the simplest strategic decision related to that goal.

This could be hiring a coach, reading a book on a topic (and then taking action on it), or going to a training course.

What I have noticed is that as soon as money enters into the game, it’s much harder to step away from the first step.

For instance, if I decided to enroll in a $2000 business training course, it would be mindless not to study and implement the advice being taught.

4

DECIDE ON THE SIMPLEST ACTION

Once you know what strategy to focus on, figure out the next simple action that finally gets the ball rolling.

For instance, it could be:

  • Sending an email to a business coach
  • Purchasing the training course
  • Making the call to join the local gym

Notice that there should be a very low entry level to take action on these things, like making a phone call, sending an email or enrolling into a training course. That’s the easiest way to get started.

5

DECIDE WHEN AND WHERE

Decide when the first moment to act on the low-entry action is (identified in the previous step); Is it right after the lunch? Once you have gotten home from work? As soon as you have taken your kids to daycare tomorrow?

Studies have shown that when you have an exact plan on your task list (like the time and place), the task is more likely to get done, instead of just vaguely promising yourself to do something in the future.

6

DEFINE SUPPORTING GOALS/HABITS IF NECESSARY

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Based on my experience, it’s ok to reach multiple sub-goals at once, as long as they support the main goal somehow.

For instance, if your goal is to build a six-figure business, you might want to consider building supporting habits that make reaching your main goal faster:

MAIN GOAL

SUPPORT GOAL

Build a six-figure business

Go to bed 1 hour earlier in order to get enough sleep.

Build a six-figure business

Implement a healthy diet in order to lose weight and improve your energy levels.

Build a six-figure business

Implement a consistent exercise habit in order to improve your energy levels and productivity.

Build a six-figure business

Become more mindful by meditating every day in order to improve your focus.

Conclusion

When the year starts, it’s compelling to load your plate with too many goals at once. Unfortunately, this only leads to feeling overwhelmed and can result in procrastination.

In order to tackle this overwhelmed feeling, take a look at what you promised to yourself, and then do the following things:

  1. ​Put all your potential goals into a list.
  2. Make another list where you include 20% of the first list. This 20% represents your high-priority goals (HPGs). Then pick one goal from the HPG list. This goal, when reached, should have the most wide-spread effects in your life for years to come.
  3. Ask yourself: What is the next (simplest) strategic decision I can make to reach that goal?
  4. Ask yourself: What’s the easiest action I can take next to get the ball rolling (as identified in step #3)?
  5. When and where are you going to act, regarding the point #4?
  6. Consider implementing additional support habits in order to reach to your one goal faster.

Want to give your goals for 2016 a needed boost? If so, download a goals worksheet I created exclusively for this purpose. The fact is that no matter how much you plan these things on your mind - you have to write things down and act now! And to do this, this worksheet comes handy. It makes setting and reaching goals easier and simpler.

Timo Kiander
 

  • Timo: I will link to your post in the next issue of my newsletter, Lyceum Bulletin. “It’s already March – It’s only March” ;) It is soon April… ;) Have you heard about the Freedom Journal by John Lee Dumas? Achieve your top goal within 100 days.

    • Timo Kiander

      Great, thanks!

  • Small steps to taking action is the right thing to do. Anything is possible if broken down into small enough steps.

    Great actionable post and looking forward to receiving the SPW workbook in my inbox.

    Thanks

  • Great post, Timo!

    I call step 3, “action steps”, can’t remember where I heard the label first…

    Instead of writing a To Do list, I write down the next action step to take… Rather than “file my taxes” write down “collect all tax receipts”.

    So for daily task lists instead of the final goal (overwhelming, likely won’t finish it today, might as well quit while I’m at it) write the next step (easy to do) and I will often keep going and get three small steps closer to the big goal today.

    • Timo Kiander

      Thank you Trevor!

      Sounds good! More detailed, and simple, the step is, the more likely it’s going to be done.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Hello Timo,

    Your article perfectly lines with my ideology. I always list down my goals and motivate myself. The Pareto principle is new to me. I will definitely try it out.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Gautham!

      Nice to know I was able to tell you something new :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • I love the reduction step where you focus on 20% first and then instantly define actionable steps for those.

    Great way to reduce overwhelm and focus on small daily gains!

    Superb post, thanks for sharing!

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Nick!

      Thank you! Yeah, with the reduced steps, the overwhelm becomes almost non-existent.

      Cheers,
      Timo