Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Three Steps of Achieving Nearly Any Goal

There are three steps to make nearly any goal manageable.

First step for any goal:  set up your environment.  Setting up your environment has a powerful subconscious affect on you.  If you are learning Japanese, then place yourself in an immersive environment.  If you are losing weight by eating better and exercising, get rid of all the bad food in your house and make it easy to use whatever exercise equipment you have.  If you are trying to save money for something, use a picture of your goal as your computer wallpaper.  Place a picture of your goal all over the place.  Immersion is the best first step you can take to reaching your goal.  That immersive environment removes the distractions that will keep you from your goal. 

Second step for any goal:  build up supportive habits and remove distracting habits.  They say it takes about 30 days to add or remove a habit.  To more easily achieve a goal, create habits that support activities that push you toward the goal.  If you're a writer, set up a habit of writing for just 10 minutes every morning.  Do this every day for a month by waking up 10 minutes earlier.  Once you have a habit, you can more easily change it, expand it to be even more useful.  In the writing example, build up to 30 minutes of free writing every morning. 

Third step for any goal:  break your goal down into smaller, easier goals.  Out of the three steps, this is the most common one seen.  If you have a five year goal, break it down into five one year goals that build upon each other.  Instead of paying off that $20,000 over the next four years, have a goal of paying $5,000 this next year.  Then break it down even more.  Instead of paying $5,000 this next year, make a goal of paying $500 a month.  If you get paid twice a month, make it a goal of paying $250 per paycheck.  It may not seem like much, but each step is one step closer than you were. 

With these three steps, you can conquer the world.


  1. No fluff here. Great, to-the-point post, Matt. It's also important to understand your motivation for wanting to achieve the goal (the "Why?"), as some motivations are better than others. But as regards achieving the goal, I think you're spot on with the above. Environment is something that I've especially come to realize the importance of in recent years.

    What goals are you working on yourself at the moment?

  2. That's a difficult question, Niall. If you were to look back over the past year's worth of posts, which is a daunting task, you would see me change goals many times. And, of course, changing my goals means I don't accomplish much.

    I believe my problem is my being a generalist. I enjoy a great many things, but am not quite passionate about any, except learning. And I think I recently found how to use my love of learning as a productive goal, and not just an excuse to buy more books.

    I'm in the process of starting another blog that will discuss lifelong learning for less. I have a list of post topics ready to write about and hope to have the blog up by the end of the month. While I build support for that, I'm actually outlining a novel that's been in my head for several months. Don't know where that will go.

    In your comment, you mention the importance of Why. I agree that having a good Why can make reaching a goal easier, but I don't know if that's a requirement. I will be pushing forward in learning Japanese as soon as I get back from a trip with my family, but I don't really have a conscious reason to learn it.