What if I told you there’s a secret to success? It’s not some ancient proverb that unlocks the meaning of life. Instead, it’s a simple framework that’ll help you achieve your goals and unlock your potential. Far too many people start working toward their goals without developing a clear plan. They’re so focused on the finish line that they fail to account for the dedication, commitment, and hard work it’ll take to cross it. They don’t understand that success doesn’t just happen: It’s a process. I’ll admit that achieving your goals won’t be easy, but that’s where the second part of the secret comes in. While the framework provides the tools, it’s still up to you to earn it, so roll up your sleeves.
Set a Goal
What do all successful people have in common? They set goals. That’s because setting goals allows you to envision the future you’d like to have and motivates you to make it a reality. The first step in this process is to select a worthy goal; it can’t be random or disposable. It must be worth your while. It’s also crucial that your goal is SMART, the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. That’s because success is much more likely when you set goals that are sharply defined and quantifiable; objective measurements help you track your progress, make corrections, and stay on track. If someone sets out to lose 20 pounds over the next 12 months, they have a much higher chance of success than someone whose goal is to lose weight. See the difference?
Make a Plan
Having a goal without a plan is like being on a rudderless ship that’s adrift at sea. Both are at the mercy of unforgiving currents and are unlikely to last. A solid plan lays out the steps and milestones essential for success and allows you to focus your efforts where they’re most needed. A Harvard Business School study found only 3 percent of their MBA graduates took the time to write down their goals. Incredibly, within 10 years of graduation, the 3 percent earned 10 times more than the other 97 percent combined.
Sometimes, the reality on the ground requires that we adapt or fail altogether. For instance, you may begin a long-term goal without realizing just how challenging it is to remain motivated when success is months or even years away. The solution is to slightly adjust the plan to show more carrot and less stick by breaking the larger goal into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Achieving a series of small victories will keep you motivated and marching toward the fish line. For example, if someone wants to lose 80 pounds over the next year, it’s much more manageable to divide that goal into 12 smaller parts. It’s far less intimidating.
While this is the most challenging step, it’s also the most exciting. Nothing beats the rush of starting a new goal, but with it comes the sacrifice of assessing our priorities, reallocating our time, and cutting nonessential activities from our schedule. It’s never easy, but many realize that their familiar routines were holding them back, and their complacency was causing them to conflate constant motion with forward momentum. Lasting success means making incremental changes that become habits over time. When you move with intention and value progress over perfection, each step brings you closer to your goals. Soon, you’ll look back at where you started and be amazed at just how far you’ve come.
Making time for introspective reflection throughout your journey will help you identify obstacles, assess progress, and stay on track. While it’s an essential part of the framework, many people assume that it happens naturally. It doesn’t. When you fall short (which you will), reflection helps you get back up, adapt, and push forward. It allows you to critique situations honestly and avoid repeating mistakes. This practice looks different for everybody, but an excellent place to start is by answering a series of simple questions at equal intervals throughout your journey. Scheduling time to reflect makes it more likely you won’t forget and writing your answers in a journal is a great way to track your progress and identify reoccurring issues.
Here are sample questions to get you started:
- Does my progress match my original timeline?
- What has gone exceptionally well, and how can I replicate it?
- What changes can I make to stay on track and be more effective/efficient?
Rinse and Repeat
You’ve reached the final step, which can only mean one of two things: You’ve either made it through the process or are reading all the steps before starting your journey. After completing the cycle, return to the beginning and select a new goal. You’ll notice that it becomes easier each time you restart the process; before long, achieving your goals will be second nature, and success will become a habit. Internalizing this framework will allow you to approach obstacles with newfound clarity and a sense of quiet confidence. Adversity will no longer be something to fear but a challenge and an opportunity for growth.
One undeniable truth is that nothing worth accomplishing comes easy. Still, people spend their time searching for shortcuts and choosing complacency over growth. The fact that you’re reading this means you’re not one of them. Like us, you’re an Everyday Warrior who’s motivated to achieve their goals and strives to live a life of purpose, impact, and balance.
Now that you know the secret to success, share it with everyone!