The secrets to accomplishing your goals, as powerful as they are, aren’t magic.
There are no magic formulas that successful people use to succeed in their goals. There’s no secret easy pill that you can take to make it happen instantaneously.
However, there are principles that you can use to accomplish just about anything in your life.
In this article, we are going to discuss the 15 “secrets”, or principles, that you can follow to accomplish the goals you have for your life and work.
Keith Ellis in his book The Magic Lamp said, “Even ordinary effort over time yields extraordinary results.”
The reason many people never accomplish their goals is that they give up too quickly and too easily. Or they sporadically throw a bunch of hours at the goal, then go days without working toward it.
Take fitness goals at New Year’s – tons of people start hitting the gym, some for long periods of time, trying to get in shape.
Why? Good question.
Maybe because they don’t get instantaneous results. Maybe it’s because it’s tougher than they thought. Maybe they tried to do too much at one time.
The key to accomplishing any goal is persistence, never stopping, never quitting, being willing to take the long road, not expecting immediate results, willing to work for your goals and pay the price to get there.
Brian Tracy said in his book Goals! ,“Realize that you have virtually unlimited potential to be, have, or do anything you really want in life if you simply want it badly enough and are willing to work long enough and hard enough to achieve it.”
Getting to your goals isn’t going to be instantaneous. There is no magic easy pill. It takes work, sweat, and perseverance.
Any ordinary, “non-smart” person who is persistent will beat out a “gifted”, “smart” person who quits any day.
Resolve to never give up. Persist.
Have a strong “why”
The second secret to accomplishing your goals is to have a strong “why”.
What is a “why”?
It’s the reason why you are pursuing your goals. You aren’t going to the gym just to go or running just to run. You aren’t cutting out junk food or putting in all the extra hours to start a business just because.
You have a reason for doing it. You have an end result you are trying to accomplish.
That is your “why”.
Why are you doing it? Why do you want to pursue your goal or goals? What is the purpose? What do you want to happen?
If your goal is to eat healthier and exercise, is your end goal to feel better, look better, be around for your grandkids, or so on?
If your goal is to start a business, is your end goal more financial freedom, control over your work, or what?
Why do you want to advance your career? Why do you want to earn more money? Why do you want to get in shape?
What is your “why”?
Knowing, remembering, and visualizing your why can keep you going through the toughest of times. However, if the hard times hit you, and you don’t have a purpose for doing the goal, you will likely just quit.
Know your “why” and even write down your “why”. That way, when it gets tough, and you forget your “why”, you can look at it and remember why you are putting all that work into that goal.
Be passionate about your goals
One reason people fail their goals is that they aren’t passionate about their goals. There is no emotional attachment to it.
If you are not passionate about it, if it’s not something you really care about, you aren’t going to put the effort in to make it happen.
Why would someone do a goal they aren’t passionate about?
- It’s what someone else wants for them (parents, spouse, boss)
- They think it’s what they are supposed to do
- It seemed to be a passion at first, but priorities and passions changed
- Peer pressure
- It’s something they want sometimes, but it’s the wrong season of life or the wrong time for it
If you don’t have an attachment to the goal, if it’s not your goal, then you are going to have a hard time making it happen.
Make sure the goals you pursue are something that you are passionate about.
If it’s something you need or have to do, such as from your boss, find a way to find some attachment to it. Find an aspect or end result you can be passionate about.
If it’s something your spouse wants you to do, depending on what it is, your passion for accomplishing it may be to please your spouse or to help and encourage them.
If you don’t have the passion for it, it’s highly likely not to happen.
See setbacks and failures the right way
When you pursue your goals, setbacks, and failures are going to happen. It’s just a fact of life.
What determines success and failure is how you deal with it.
Many people take setbacks and failures the wrong way. They take it as meaning they are failures or an attack on their abilities.
Some people never try because they are afraid to fail. They are afraid of what that will mean or what others will say.
Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Setbacks and failures are a part of life.
Things will not always work out the way you want. Hard times will come. Some things you try just will mess up.
Thomas Edison failed many times when trying to invent the light bulb. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
It’s all perspective. Failure and setbacks aren’t failures unless you quit. They are opportunities to learn. They are opportunities to get better.
They do not mean you are a failure. It’s just a chance to learn and get better and try again.
Successful people actually fail more than unsuccessful people. They just kept pushing and trying until they succeeded.
Thomas Edison also said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Know the cost and be willing to pay the price
Every worthwhile goal has a cost. Nothing is free. There is no easy, instant pill.
What you must ask yourself is, “Am I willing to pay the price?”
One reason many people fail to achieve their New Year’s goals is that they never counted and aren’t willing to pay the price to accomplish their goals. The cost of changing is too much for them.
The cost of staying the same for them is less than the cost it will take to change.
What are some costs?
Time, for one. It takes time to work out. It takes time to start a business. It takes time to read books and grow yourself.
And it’s time you take away from the TV, internet, video games, partying, Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, and so on.
Friends. Sometimes to pursue your goals, you will have to lose some friends.
Change in yourself. Often, to pursue your goal, you will have to make changes in yourself. And that’s not always easy.
Physical effort. Working on, exercise, some jobs or occupations, etc. takes extra physical effort.
Money. Some things cost money. Or to save money, you will have to NOT buy things that you want right then.
Usually, it’s a mix of costs. If you are going back to school, you will have to rearrange schedules, have less time with your kids, have less money to spend, and so on. There will likely be more stress.
If you are trying to lose weight and be healthier, you will have to eat differently, take time to exercise, buy different foods, you may have to change how the kids eat to help you eat better, and so on.
Even in the Bible, Jesus told the people to count the cost before following Him. He told them to make sure they were willing to pay the price.
Whatever goal you pursue, make sure you know what the cost will be to pursue your goal and be willing to pay the price.
Quick ways to help you pay the price
- See the future – what will it be like if you don’t change? What’s the cost of inaction?
- What will it look like if you do pay the price? Imagine where you are, how you feel, and the emotions you have of succeeding.
- Make the pain of not changing greater than the pain of changing.
Focus on one goal at a time (maybe 2-3)
If you are trying to do too many goals, you will likely fail them all.
When you are trying to do too much, you are not giving any goal much focus. Everything is just getting a little, if any, and you are likely to get burned out trying to do everything.
Then you will likely do nothing.
I’ve seen that in my life. I will have 5-10 different goals I want to pursue: learn Spanish, practice speed reading, practice memory techniques, practice speech, and so on.
I’ll try to fit everything into my schedule, and I may do it all for a couple of days, but then usually life happens, and I can’t fit them all in, I get discouraged, and I end up not doing any of them.
Focus, on one goal at a time, two-three at the most.
Shouldn’t you have more than one goal at a time?
Yes, it’s good to write out all the goals you want to do and know what they are. Then, as Brian Tracy suggests, ask yourself, what one goal would have the greatest impact on your life?
Pursue that goal with all your energy. Once it’s done or you’ve made it part of your daily routine, work on it, then add another goal or two.
Find and fix your constraints
Often there are constraints, in us, that keep us from achieving our goals or just slow us down. Sometimes there are external constraints or obstacles that are in our way as well.
If we want to accomplish our goals, we need to overcome our constraints or find ways around them.
Internal and personal constraints could be:
- Limiting beliefs
- Bad habits
- Inability to prioritize time (or use it effectively)
- Health issues
- Lack of skill or know-how in a certain area
External constraints could include:
- Other people
- Government regulation
It’s easy to look outside of us, but most of the time, the constraints are in us. Examine yourself to see what your constraints might be, and work on overcoming them.
There may be a skill you can learn that will help you. Maybe there is software that can help you or someone else who has the skill.
For external constraints, find ways to overcome them, work with them, or work around them. Don’t play the victim. Be proactive and do something about it, to the best of your ability.
Find who can help you with your goals
It can sometimes be easy to try to pursue our goals on our own; however, that also increases our chances of failure.
Sometimes people have skills, knowledge, or advice that they can use to accomplish their goals better and faster.
Sometimes people have been there, done that, and can help us avoid pitfalls.
Sometimes there are others who are pursuing similar goals that we can work with to encourage each other in our goals.
There are also people we can ask to help keep us accountable. We often don’t like to look bad or fail others, so having someone to help keep us accountable for our goals can help keep us motivated when it is tough.
Make achieving your goals part of your daily routine
It’s harder to work toward your goal when the work you have to do is at sporadic times and moments.
Sometimes this can’t be helped, but, if you can make your work toward your goal part of your daily routine, it will make achieving and accomplishing your goals so much easier.
Our lives are full of habits and routines, from the way we brush our teeth, brush or comb, or shave our head, to when and how we eat.
Try to make your goals routine. If possible, do them at the same time, same place every day. Use the same cue every time (such as, right after breakfast, I work on my goal).
After a while, the work on your goal will be routine and it will be so much easier to work on and finish it.
Then you can more easily add other goals, as the old goal is something you do by habit now.
Make your goals challenging
Weak goals bring the weak effort. We don’t give our best or push ourselves for goals that don’t really challenge us.
Think about a race: Are you going to push yourself to meet a time that you know you can easily meet? No.
But, depending on the race, if I challenge you to shave a few milliseconds or seconds off your best time, would you give your best effort then? It’s likely.
When we challenge ourselves with challenging goals, we rise to the occasion. We push ourselves and “do the impossible”.
If all we do are goals we know we can do, that are easy, they won’t stimulate or challenge us, so we won’t give our best effort.
Make sure your goals challenge you and cause you to stretch.
Keep a scorecard for your goals
Imagine a football game. The teams are going back and forth. You see the scoreboard, and the score is incredibly close. You feel the intensity and excitement in the stands as the final seconds of the game come about.
Now imagine the same game, but no scoreboard. No one in the stand can see a score, because no score is shown. Some people may know the score, but no one knows how much time is left, and so on.
Is there as much intensity? As much excitement?
Being able to see and measure the score, time, and so on bring an aspect of the game that is not there without it.
It’s the same with our goals. A scorecard provides measurement. They let us know where we are if we are ahead or behind, and how much time we have.
They let us know our goal and what our aim is. In an instant, a scoreboard lets us know how we are doing toward our goals.
An effective goal scoreboard is:
- Easy to understand
- You know where you are in a matter of seconds, whether winning or losing.
- You see your ultimate goal.
- You see where you should be and where you are.
Making a simple scoreboard to show where you should be this week/day and where you are can help motivate you to keep pushing forward, help you celebrate when you are doing well, and lets you know when there is a problem so you can make adjustments to your goals and deadlines as necessary.
Make sure goals align with priorities, values, and season of life
Your goals must match your priorities and values, otherwise, your life will be out of whack.
If you prioritize your family over work, but your career goal is keeping you from your family, you are out of sync and it will cause issues.
If your priority is spending time with your kids, but you are always cleaning instead of being with them, it costs you.
If you value integrity, but your goal involves deceit, it will hurt you.
Know too there are different seasons of life. Your priorities change. What may be a good goal for one season may not work well in another.
Your goals and priorities for when you just have your first child and when they are all off to college would and should be different in ways.
If they all align, you will be in sync and move forward more powerfully. If they don’t match or align, you will be out-of-sync and it will cost you.
You must take responsibility for your life
I love this quote by Keith Ellis in his book The Magic Lamp, “Life is a self-service gas station. You can sit in your car and honk, or you can fill the tank yourself.”
Many people spend their lives complaining and blaming others or circumstances for the issues in life. Many feel entitled and feel like success should just be given to them.
As Ellis also says, you are either a cause or an effect. You either cause things to happen, or you allow yourself to be an effect from others who make things happen. It’s a choice.
When it comes to your goals, you have to take 100% responsibility. You can’t blame others, you can’t spend your time complaining. Take responsibility and make it happen.
You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can always control and choose your response to what happens.
Take responsibility for your life and your goals and be a cause, not an effect.
Focus on solutions, not problems
Problems will happen. The question is, what are you going to focus on?
Are you going to focus on the problems, or are you going to focus on solutions?
Where you focus on is where you generally stay. If you focus on the problems, you are going to stay in those problems.
However, if your mentality is to focus not on the problem, but on solutions, then that is where you will generally stay as well.
Don’t focus on the problems in your life, focus on solutions.
Make it easy on yourself
We like to think we will have the willpower to do whatever we want toward our goals.
Then life happens.
Stress happens. And then that chocolate cake looks so good.
Then it’s so easy just to sleep in instead of running. Then it’s so easy to put off working on the business another day.
Find ways to make it easy for yourself to accomplish your goals, even when your willpower is low.
For example, if you are trying to eat healthily, don’t buy junk food! It may be changing the diet of your kids as well, but having them eat healthily will be better for them in the long run (though it may be a fight initially).
And maybe you can treat them to snacks every once in a while – when your willpower is high.
Other examples include:
- If having to work on something on the computer, maybe leave the computer on, with the program open, with the files you need right in front of the computer.
- If jogging in the morning, get your clothes and gear out the night before and put it right by your bed.
- Use blocking apps on your phone or computer to help keep you from wasting time.
- You can even get others to help you so that you can cheat.
Whatever it is, find ways to make it easier on you to overcome low moments of willpower.
As I’ve seen quoted (in variations) in different books, “To get somewhere you’ve never been, you will have to be someone and do things you have never done before.”
All of these “secrets”, these principles, will help you achieve your goals if you follow them.
But it will require effort, work, and change on your part.
Are you really serious about your goal? Are you passionate? Are you willing to pay the price?
Then do it. Become the person and make the changes you need to accomplish the dreams and goals you have in your life.
Now to you: What “secret” has the most impact to you? What are you going to work on starting today?