7 Foolproof Ways to Achieve Your Goals in 2020

7 Foolproof Ways to Achieve Your Goals in 2020

How to get the necessary Clarity, Commitment, Focus and Confidence to Succeed

Image for postPhoto by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

How did 2019 go for you? Are you proud of yourself?

Did you achieve the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

If not, don?t feel bad ? you are not alone: Research shows that 92% of people don?t achieve their goals.

As a Mindset & Productivity Coach, that statistic doesn?t surprise me at all.

You see, my job is to help people achieve their goals and the end of the year is always a time where I get the most inquiries about working together. People aren?t happy with the past year and want to make the next year better. They want to make it the year they finally achieve their goals and transform their lives.

Over the years, the first intake call with new clients has almost turned into a research project that allowed me to find out exactly why only 8% of the population succeed at sticking to their New Year?s resolutions.

I?ve learned that it usually comes down to one of 4 reasons why they weren?t successful:

  1. Lack of Clarity: They didn?t set clear enough goals including a proper action plan and an effective strategy to achieve them.
  2. Lack of Commitment: They didn?t fully commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve their goal and failed to hold themselves accountable.
  3. Lack of Focus: They didn?t direct enough time, energy and mental focus to their goals and got distracted by less important things.
  4. Lack of Confidence: They failed to identify and overcome the self-limiting beliefs, fears, and self-doubt that were holding them back mentally.

By now you probably know the reason why you weren?t able to achieve one or more of your goals last year.

To make sure this doesn?t happen again, I have collected the most effective strategies I share with my coaching clients to help them achieve their goals with the necessary clarity, commitment, focus, and confidence.

Here are 7 foolproof ways to make 2020 your most successful year yet:

1. Get Clear on Your WHY

You?ve probably heard of the SMART goal-setting technique and know that the right way to set your goals is to make them:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

However, the SMART method has one major flaw: It only teaches you how to set your goals the right way but not how to set the right goals in the first place.

You can come up with the perfect goal-achievement plan but if you pick goals that you don?t really care about and are not truly motivated to achieve, you?ll set yourself up for failure right from the start!

Thus, the most important question you need to ask yourself when setting goals is not WHAT, WHEN or HOW but WHY?

How to Take Action NOW:

Take a few minutes to take each of your 2020 goals through the following questions:

  • Why is it so important for you to achieve this goal? Is this really what you want?
  • How will you feel when you get there? Is there a different way to achieve this feeling?

These questions will make sure that you are setting goals that you are intrinsically motivated to achieve and don?t pursue out of the wrong reasons (e.g. because all your friends are doing it but you don?t really care about it).

Where to Learn More:

  • Book: Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
  • Podcast: Before You Set a Goal, Connect with Your Why from the Daily New Year?s Podcast

2. Create Powerful Habits Around Your Goals

Whatever you want to achieve in life, the basis for success is almost always identifying, integrating and sticking to powerful habits. I like to think of habits as powerful tools to automate the goal achievement process: When you do something over and over again, you are hardwiring a behavior in your brain and thus over time it becomes so natural to you that you do it almost automatically. Ultimately, your habit is no longer something you do, but it is part of who you are. As a result, achieving your goal will become effortless.

Here are the 3 keys to building habits that stick:

  1. Stick to the same time: Your brain is a lot more likely to create a habit out of something when you integrate it into your daily schedule. For example, if you want to work out 3 times a week, pick exact timeslots like Tuesday mornings before work, Thursdays after work and Saturday mornings. That way, your brain starts to associate these times with going to the gym and it will be easier for you to follow-through on your habit. To keep track of all your habits and priorities, I recommend setting up a weekly default schedule with recurring time-blocks. You can check out my own weekly schedule template to give you an idea of how that could look like.
  2. Engineer a trigger: Your alarm clock, a notification on your phone or something happening in your day (e.g. you are leaving work, coming back from your lunch break) can act as a powerful reminder to kickstart your habit. These triggers will help your brain remember that it?s time to do your habit and thus reinforce the creation of new neural pathways in your brain. But what?s even more powerful than artificial triggers are existing habits: In fact, one of the easiest ways to build a new habit is to stack it on top of an existing one. For example: Meditate after you brush your teeth in the morning and work out after your meditation. When you stack multiple habits, they become a powerful routine that acts as a goal-achievement machine.
  3. Stick to it for at least 2 months: Research shows that it takes exactly 66 days to form a new habit loop in your brain. Thus, it?s crucial to not take significant breaks in the first 2 months. After that, it should feel almost natural to do your habit.

How to Take Action NOW:

Find 2?3 daily or weekly habits for each of your goals. Here are a few examples:

Goal: Lose Weight > Habits: daily workout, weekly grocery shopping & meal prep on Sundays, getting up 30 min earlier every day to have a healthy breakfast

Goal: Start your Own Business > Habits: Block 4 hrs on Saturday Mornings and 2 hrs on Tuesday and Thursday Evenings for working on business ideas

As you can see, even if you can?t define a super clear habit for your goal, you can always just make it a habit to block certain times in your day to work on your goal.

Where to Learn More:

  • Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Article: The Simple Art of Creating Long-Lasting Habits by Niklas Gke

3. Keep Your Mind Focused on Your Goals

Most people start out the new year with grand resolutions and plans, but a few weeks in they lose motivation to keep going or simply forget about the goals they set.

That?s why it?s essential to keep your goals top of mind at all times. Writing them down once won?t cut it. You need to remind yourself of your goals and WHY they are important to you every single day. That way, you?ll stay mentally focused on what is important and highly motivated and thus will find it easier to make day-to-day decisions in a way that supports your goals.

Here are a few great ways to do that:

  • Goal Review: The simplest way to keep your goals top of mind is to look at them every single day. Take a few conscious minutes in the morning to review your goals and action plans and remind yourself why you are doing it and what needs to happen to get there. This is a great exercise to combine with day planning because it will help you prioritize the right things and gets you pumped for the day ahead.
  • Goal Journaling: Writing helps you reinforce your goals, connect with your vision and even generate ideas to help you achieve your goals. Start by writing down your goals in your journal. Then, do some freewriting about your goals ? just write down whatever comes to mind and let it flow for a couple of minutes. Finish up with writing about your dream life and how it will feel when you achieve your goals (you can write about your ideal day, the type of people you hang out, the clothes you wear, where you live etc.).
  • Visualization Meditation: Close your eyes for 5?10 min and play a movie in your head about your goals. Imagine achieving your goals and how it feels when you get there. Visualize yourself showing up every day with clarity, confidence, and determination. See yourself enjoying the process and loving the journey towards achieving your goals.

How to Take Action NOW:

Pick one of the strategies from above and make it part of your morning routine. You can also come up with your own way of connecting to your goals. Just make sure that your chosen ritual gives you the necessary clarity, motivation, and confidence to achieve your goals.

Where to Learn More:

  • Article: How To Write In Your Journal To Improve Yourself and Achieve Your Goals by Benjamin Hardy, PhD
  • Article: Visualization Techniques to Affirm Your Desired Outcomes: A Step-by-Step Guide by Jack Canfield
  • Article: 12 Empowering Morning Routine Habits To Prime Yourself For A Highly Productive & Successful Day by Jari Roomer

4. Plan your Time & Energy According to Your Goals

A few weeks into the new year, life tends to get busy again and it can become a challenge to find time for our goals.

Yes, life happens.

To everyone.

But the 8% of the population who actually achieve their goals don?t let less important things distract them from what matters. They relentlessly focus their time and energy on their goals.

Here is how you can do the same:

  • Plan your day the night before: When you don?t take control of your schedule, you can easily fall victim to letting other people dictate your day ? and before you know it ? the day is over and you didn?t get a chance to spend time on the things that actually matter to you. But when you plan your day the night before and make sure you have blocked out time for your most important habits, goals and priorities, you don?t leave anything up to chance. Instead, you?ll start your day with clarity and commitment.
  • Start your day with your most important thing: Want to work out daily? Do it before work so nothing that happens later in the day will derail you from going to the gym ? it doesn?t matter if you need to stay late at work, get a last-minute invitation for happy hour drinks or are simply tired after a long day ? if you work out in the morning, there are no excuses! Want to start a business? Get up an hour earlier to work on it before going to the office. Want to make more money in your business? Focus on the task with the highest impact in the morning ? that way you won?t procrastinate on the really important stuff!
  • Block your high-energy times for your goals: If you are an energetic morning person, don?t schedule any meetings in the mornings ? instead, use your energy and focus in the morning to get ahead on your most important projects. If you are a night owl, think about spending your evenings productively and taking some time off during the day instead. I usually get pretty tired in the afternoons so I like to take an afternoon nap and then work on tasks that require less energy and mental focus. I am okay with having a less productive afternoon because I know that my mornings are usually high-output and I?ll have a surge of energy around 7:00 pm, so I?ll spend another hour before dinner knocking out some items on my to-do list. Whatever your personal energy patterns are, don?t waste your high-energy times ? take advantage of them to further your goals!

How to Take Action NOW:

Create a daily and weekly schedule based on your goals and priorities and the best times for them. I am a huge fan of sticking to a weekly default schedule as it allows you to fully optimize your time and energy for what is most important (without taking up a lot of time to plan each week).

Where to Learn More:

  • Article: Why my Schedule Looks the Same, Every Single Week
  • Download: Weekly Schedule Template
  • Article: 7 Ways to Identify your Most Important Task

5. Eliminate Distractions from your Environment

Your environment plays a big role in your chances of success when it comes to achieving your goals. This is because we all have limited willpower each day and will eventually give into external temptations when we keep being exposed to them.

For example, when you have cookies and ice cream at home, it is just a matter of time until you will eat them, even though you want to lose weight. You might be fine for a few hours or even days but eventually, you?ll have a bad day or are really tired and you?ll turn to the ice cream to soothe you.

On the other hand, if your environment is completely free from temptations, you are a lot less likely to eat that ice cream because you would need to go out of your way to get it.

Another example: You really want to study for your exam and get a good grade ? but you are hanging out with friends who care more about having a good time than excelling in school. As a result, they?ll constantly tempt you to leave the library early and do something fun. However, if you hang out with highly competitive A-students instead, they will drive you to study even harder and as a result, you?ll get a better grade.

I think you get the point.

Here are a few effective ways to optimize your environment for success:

  • Prepare your environment for your habits: Set up a meditation corner in your bedroom, store your running shoes at work, stock up on Tupperware to take your prepped meals to work, get noise-canceling headphones so you can focus on your most important tasks ? make your environment support your goals.
  • Remove any temptations and triggers: Don?t keep chocolate and ice cream in your apartment, don?t hang out with people that make you drink and smoke and avoid skipping meals that cause you to binge later on ? identify your nemesis and remove them from your environment.
  • Surround yourself with people that are in line with the goals you want to achieve: Make friends with the healthy lunch group at work, join a mastermind group and flood your brain with content from great minds through books, podcasts, and videos.
  • Remove distractions: Leave your phone in the locker when you are studying in the library, go to an empty meeting room when you work on an important project, close email and Slack and turn off notifications for a few hours ?figure out what distracts you most and remove it from your environment.

How to Take Action NOW:

Evaluate your environment based on your goals: Does your apartment, place of work and the people you hang out with support or derail your goals? Come up with a few strategies to optimize your environment to make achieving your goals inevitable.

Where to Learn More:

  • Book: Willpower Doesn?t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success by Benjamin Hardy
  • Article: Motivation isn?t Enough. Environment Literally Shapes Your Life by Mayo Oshin

6. Hold Yourself Accountable

Most people never fully commit to their goals and thus fail to achieve them. Creating true commitment requires two things:

  1. Making a decision that you will do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. Setting goals is very different from making a decision. A decision makes achieving your goal inevitable.
  2. Creating measures to hold yourself accountable. No matter how motivated you are at the beginning of the year, you will soon encounter days where you don?t feel like working on your goals. Life will get busy. Other things will seem more important (even though you know deep down that they are not). Routine will kick in and your habit will start to get boring. In short, it will get really f*cking hard to stick to your goals. That?s where accountability comes in: you need to find a way to make sure you are holding the promises you made to yourself.

Here are a few great ways to create accountability for your goals:

  • Hire a coach: Working with a personal life or business coach is the ultimate way to hold yourself accountable. Most coaches work in 3 to 6 months programs that start with a goal-setting session and include weekly coaching calls to check-in on your progress. A good coach can help you improve your time management, overcome your fear, release your limiting beliefs and refine your goal-achievement strategy. As a coach myself, I know that half the reason my clients achieve their goals is that they have weekly calls with me and they put a lot of money down. That brings me to the next point?
  • Invest in your goals: Nobody likes to lose money. In fact, research shows that we are more afraid to lose what we have than to gain something. This is because of the sunk-cost effect. When we invest in something, we feel we need to make it worth our investment. Although this effect can work against you in other situations, it absolutely works in your favor when it comes to achieving your goals: If you make a big investment like hiring a coach, joining a very expensive gym or signing up for a class, you are much more likely to stick to your goals.
  • Create social pressure: Nobody likes to look stupid in front of other people. Thus, involving your friends in your goal achievement process is a fantastic way to make sure you?ll stick to your goals. Here are a few ideas: post your goals publicly on social media, get an accountability partner who works on the same goal, join a group or class with regular meet-ups (like a 12-week boot camp) or create a contract (my friend Matt Sandrini wrote more about how he uses the personal contract strategy here).
  • Track yourself: Measuring your goal-achievement progress and tracking your habits is a great way to hold yourself accountable because it requires you to check-in with yourself daily and report what you?ve done. I recommend getting a mobile app like Streaks or Productive to track habits like working out, not smoking and meditating, as well as set up a simple Google sheet to keep track of any KPI?s you are measuring (e.g. weight loss, articles published, sales).

Image for postHabit Tracking App Streaks

How to Take Action NOW:

Pick your personal accountability strategy and set it up.

Where to Learn More:

  • Book: QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John Miller
  • Podcast: Why Accountability is the Real ?Secret to Success? and How to Create it by Hal Elrod

7. Eliminate all Limiting Beliefs and Fears

When you follow everything from points 1 to 6 in this article but still struggle to achieve your goals, chances are you are mentally blocked! In fact, most of my clients have one big mental block that holds them back from taking action and getting the results they desire.

This is because our brain is designed to keep us safe and thus doesn?t like unfamiliar things. Its job is to keep you away from the things that scare you. As a result, you procrastinate or self-sabotage.

But here are two important things you can do to overcome your fear, self-doubt and limiting beliefs:

  • Overcome Fear of Failure by Making Peace with the Worst-Case Scenario: Ask yourself: ?What am I actually afraid of? What is the worst thing that could happen?? Then go even deeper and ask yourself: ?Why am I so afraid of this??. Then, make a plan to deal with the worst-case scenario. When you realize that it?s actually not that bad and you?d be prepared to deal with it, you signal your brain that it is safe to take the leap.
  • Release Limiting Beliefs by Reprogramming your Brain: Journal on the following question: ?Why is it not possible for me to achieve my dreams?? Let your thoughts flow on paper to come up with all the reasons that are limiting your success. It can also help to go through the most common limiting beliefs and see if they apply to you. Once you know your superficial reasons (e.g. ?I can?t start my own business because I don?t have enough experience?), go deeper by asking yourself ?WHY?? over and over again. This simple method helps you get to the root belief that is holding you back. Then, rephrase your limiting belief into an empowering belief and use it as an affirmation every day to reprogram your brain. You can also use tapping or energy editing to release limiting beliefs from your energy system.

How to Take Action NOW:

Take a few moments to journal about what you think might be holding you back mentally from achieving your goals and create an action plan to deal with your blocks.

Where to Learn More:

  • Free Ebook: 6 Mental Blocks Holding You Back in Life
  • TED Talk: Fear-Setting by Tim Ferriss

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