There has been a certain shift in the self improvement thanks to books such as “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne that positive thinking and visualization are all it takes to get whatever you want. While both these techniques do have merit, the fact of the matter is that thoughts without actions get nothing done. Think about it this way, if you were stuck in a burning building would you rather have a group of people outside visualizing the flames dying down, or would you rather have a team of firefighters working hard to put out the fire? I know which I’d rather have!
If there are goals in your life you wish to achieve you need to take action. You also need to set yourself real goals.
A real goal is…
- something you desire - Many people fail to achieve their goals because they’re not really their goals. While it is important to do right by your family and friends, don’t try to become a doctor when you really want to be an architect just because your father desires that for you.
- realistic - No matter how hard I work out in the gym I will never look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his hay day. I just don’t have the required genetics for it. Setting that kind of goal is pointless as it is unachievable and it would probably put me off going to the gym at all. However I could, realistically, set a goal of getting six pack abs in two months or add ten lbs to my bench press every month for a year.
- measurable - When you set a goal you should be as precise as possible and give yourself something to measure your progress by, otherwise it can be hard to maintain motivation. Quitting nail biting completely in three months is measurable, you know whether you’ve bit your nails or not. Setting the goal to become more fit is hard to measure as there are different kinds of fitness. You could become stronger but slower, or faster but weaker – and then it’s tough to say whether you are fitter or not. However if you set the goal that you want to be able to run a mile in five minutes within six months. That is very easy to measure, all you need is a stop clock and a calendar to track you progress.
- set to a deadline - You may have noticed that in every example of a good goal I’ve included a deadline. A deadline pushes you to keep working towards achieving your goal everyday as it makes time a valuable commodity in achieving your goal. Let’s take a look at one of the above examples of getting a six pack in two months. For someone with my waist size that is a realistic goal but it means I will have to stick to a program quite rigidly everyday to achieve it. The deadline of two months makes sure I focus on the goal. If I gave myself a deadline of two years then I’d probably never seriously start working on the goal. Similarly if I gave myself two weeks then I probably wouldn’t achieve my goal in that time period, and then I might just give up altogether.
Here’s a list of what I would consider to be real goals.
- I will lose 20lbs in a year and keep it off.
- I will write a movie script in the next six months.
- I will learn two new songs on the piano this month.
- I will read at least one educational book every single month.
- I will start an online business which makes at least $5,000 a month within the next five years.
Some of these goals are quite small. Unless you are severely pushed for time, I think most people can read one educational book a month. Especially if the subject is something you are passionate about such as nature or science. However that doesn’t make achieving the goal meaningless. It still shows discipline and dedication to stick to any goal and when you achieve it you should feel a great deal of accomplishment. Just think about all that newly gained knowledge you will have acquired by the end of the year! That is certainly worth your time and effort.
Other goals are bigger. From personal experience starting an online business can be tough, there is a lot of research, work and development to be done. There is also a lot to learn and plenty of competition. For goals such as this it is important to break down the goal into smaller goals and develop a strategy of how you are actually going to achieve this goal.
Let’s keep looking at the goal of creating an online business that makes at least $5,000 a month within five years. That gives you sixty months before you need to be making a little over $165 a day. Already just by breaking down the numbers down it looks more manageable.
For goals such as this you should create a guide for yourself in terms of what you want to do each month and where you want to be in terms of achieving your goal. In the first month you might focus purely on research – deciding what your online business will be selling or providing, what the market for it is like, what keywords you will be targeting, finding the best deals for web hosting, choosing whether to run your site on Content Management System such as WordPress or plain HTML and choosing a domain name. That is more than enough work for one month, especially if you have a full time job or a family to look after.
In the second month you might then focus on having your website designed, whether you do it yourself, hire someone or choose to use a free template. Depending on the option you choose this could itself take a month.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Two men who know that achieving goals takes focus, drive and determination.
An empty website will attract no visitors though so will then need content for your website which could be the focus of month three. You might decide to write one piece of content or article everyday for this month until your website is full of high quality content that people will want to read.
Finally you need to make people aware of your website. There are a number of ways to do this including writing articles for other websites in exchange for promotion, paying for advertisements on search engines, social networking and so on. Of course you will also need to update your website with fresh content to keep people coming back. So your target for month four and beyond might be to spend at least three hours a day promoting your website and writing a new piece of content for it once a week. This could in fact be your goal for a number of months once you’ve got your website up and running.
At this point you might notice we are four months into this project and so far I haven’t even mentioned any money coming in. That’s because, in all likelihood, you probably won’t have any money coming in – and if you do it will be negligible. This is a long term goal that requires patience and dedication. Think of it this way, you’ve just spent four months building a foundation but if you give up now you’ll never have a house.
Eventually numbers of visitors and the money coming in will start to become more worthwhile. This is when you can start to set yourself targets of how much money you want to make each month. If you’ve spent twelve months on your business and you’re making $200 a month profit then you only have to increase your profits by $100 a month for the next forty-eight months on average until you hit that $5,000 a month target.
When You’re Weary
Whenever you set yourself a long term goal there will be periods where things don’t get as planned or things aren’t moving as quickly as you expected and you feel like giving up. It is all too easy to get stuck in a rut and repeat actions over and over that are getting you nowhere. When this happens the best thing to do is to step away from the goal for a few days. Allow your batteries to recharge and then come back to the goal. Ask yourself if perhaps you need to change your angle of attack.
Most of the time a short break and a change of tactics is enough to rejuvenate your desire to achieve a goal. However if this doesn’t work there are a couple of other techniques you can employ.
The first is to create an enemy or rival in your mind. If you’re starting an online business then your enemy could be a competing website. If you’re trying to lose a certain amount of weight then your rival could be someone who goes to the same gym as you – you don’t even have to know them. The idea behind creating an enemy or rival is to motivate you to work harder and smarter than they are, because that is the only way to surpass them.
The second one is to literally look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you want to quit now after all the hard work you’ve done.
It is incredibly hard to quit on yourself.
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