How to Achieve Your Goals
How can you achieve your goals? A difficult question with a lot of controversy on the subject… Do you disagree? Some times things are simple, yet some times they can be quite the opposite. Doesn’t the difficulty depend on the goals’ impact, their meaning, their urgency and their significance? What about the required resources and time? What if you combine all the aforementioned? Then it becomes messy, no? ☺ In this post I express my concerns on the topic, but I am trying to do so in the most simple, understandable and – hopefully – creative way. The most important thing you need to remember is that a direction should pre-exist… If you do not know where you are heading then please stop here and come back after you read this article. It is of great importance for any entity (an individual, a team, an organisation, and so forth) to know their direction.
Where do you want to go? Quoting from the relevant post, “if you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there”. The same principle applies for goal achievement. A goal without a way to achieve it reminds me of the brain’s dreaming procedure. Most likely, everything will “evaporate” in the morning without you realising it… So what does it take to achieve your goals? What should you do about it?
Goal Achievement – The Theory Paradox
Following up on the controversy on the topic I am sure you will find hundreds and hundreds of posts out there. How to achieve your goals in 10 steps… The ultimate goal guide… Why you never achieve your goals… 7 Secrets to achieving goals effectively… 8 tips this… 12 tips that… The list is endless, and honestly most of the things most writers emphasise are irrelevant. You know why? Because they are just theories out of context. YOUR CONTEXT! I can go on and on by describing the Management by Objectives system and how the objectives should be specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related or whatever other goal-related dogmatism is out there. You can do the research on your own and if you have the time and stomach, then you might figure it out. Is there a simple lens to view things from?
What Is Your Context?
If you look up the definition of the word context you will see that it is “the situation in which something happens and that helps you to understand it”. What are the keywords in the above definition? Understanding and situation! Either you are setting goals for your organisation or your family or your personal life, if you miss these two keywords then you are out of your context (and consequently, the game). Having difficulty in connecting the dots? Let me help you with some questions…
Does the goal make sense to you? Do you really want to get there? Is your situation simple or complicated? If it is the latter, can you break things down for better understanding? Only by thinking about the goal or the desired outcome, do you have a feeling that pulls you towards it? Is it practical to achieve that goal? If not, can you do something about it? Do you need information, time, money or other resources? Do you need help? Is it urgent or can it wait? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you “miss the deadline”? Can you not readjust the deadline? Is the situation pushing you towards the goal or are you trying to drive the situation? Questions can be endless…
If you answer all the above to yourself then you have defined your context. YOUR context!! Once you have done this, then you should identify YOUR path. There is no rule of thumb for all cases (that’s why theory is failing in your case). For sure the main principles of measurability, time, relevancy etc. must apply but you can bend the rules. However, I am not writing about this here… I am trying to show you the path. The “How”…
Break Things Down to 52 Pieces
Make big things small. Small enough to manage in a week’s time. You can argue with me that if it is a long-term goal then you have to break it down by year or month… I agree. But even that is difficult to manage. A year has 52 weeks. A month has 4-5 weeks. One week gives you enough flexibility to do one small thing that will aid in building something slightly bigger. Four or five weeks will aid in delivering a considerable amount of effort and result, which can be pretty respectable and motivating. Doesn’t it sound “easier to manage” now?
Let me give you one practical example just to help you get the feeling. If we assume that a lady would like to develop her analytical skills in 2 years time via an online course and that she needs do attend classes twice a week. What sounds more easy? To attend 208 classes in 2 years? To attend 104 classes in 12 months for 2 years? Or to attend 2 classes per week for 2 years? If you cannot measure it then you cannot manage it, correct? Above all, if the “numbers” are not motivating you enough, then the chances of being “lucky” will be against you!
Imagine you are running a 5K marathon. The week is the breath you take, that will mobilise your feet to take a few more steps towards the ending line!Fotis Yiannakou
“Working” the Week
If you managed to reach the above level and you know the small tasks that you need to work on, then you have done the easy part. The most difficult phase – and some times the stressful one – is the practical part. You need to have a schedule set. At the same time you need to be consistent to yourself. Still, it’s ok if something goes wrong in a week and you miss your deliverable. But staying on track on the small steps is what will take you through the whole route. Action, organisation, practice, exploration, failure, reviewing, learning and persistency are what will support your journey in every goal achievement. Allow yourself to fail small and learn fast; a week’s time gives you the opportunity for small risks that can be managed easier (since you can never eliminate risks).
Who Said It’s Easy?
Concluding on everything I want to emphasise that goal achievement is a fairly simple process. But most of the times – especially if we are talking about long-term, life-changing or business goals – it can be extremely difficult. The reason behind it is because they can be our “big goals”. If you break things down to small and manageable pieces then it becomes easier. Not easy!
When it comes to goal achievement thing big, align your efforts, plan small, aim for mini-failures and learn fast!Fotis Yiannakou
Just to sum up…
If one masters the basic theoretical concepts of goal-setting then the process can be fairly simple. Always based on the goal’s context.
The greatest risk in any goal setting / achievement is not to understand your context. Knowing your individual or organisation’s situation and environmental factors that affect you, is a great ally towards goal achievement.
Once you know where you are heading then you should map the steps. Make big things small, and fit the tasks in a “week’s time”. Elements like action, organisation, continuous practice, exploration, failure, reviewing, learning and persistency will support your path in every goal process. Constant feedback and revision or fine-tuning are key concepts as well.
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