Six Keys to Achieving Big Goals

For the last few days, I have been thinking about how to achieve really big goals. How do you do really hard things? How do you push through the inertia that threatens to keep you in your current state? How do you increase your probability of accomplishing what you set out to do?

A Lone Hiker Consider the Mountain Before Him - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #2481475

Photo courtesy of ©

This past Saturday I went running with my half marathon training group. We had to sign-in at 6:45 a.m. and start running at 7:00. We only had to go five miles, but it was cold. I dreaded going. When the alarm went off, I got into a debate with my body. “The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.”

Fortunately, the spirit prevailed. Gail and I rolled out of bed, got dressed, drove a few miles to hook up with our teammates.

As it turned out, I had several great conversations with the other runners in my group. Even though we ran for an hour, the time flew by. When we were finished, we all went to breakfast. It was a great social experience. I was very happy that I had decided to follow through on my commitment.

Later that day, I realized that working with a group is one of the keys to achieving big goals. But then I began to think, What else helps people accomplish big goals? I came up with a list of six. Whether you are trying to write a book, lose a bunch of weight, overcome an addiction, or land a new job, I believe these will help you get there:

  1. Get clear on your goal. The more clarity you have the better. Visualize it as if it were already a reality. Now write it down with as much specificity as you can. For example, this year my half marathon goal is this: “Run the Country Music Half Marathon in two hours and fifteen minutes.” That is fifteen minutes faster than my best time and will require a pace of 10:18 per mile.
  2. Determine what is at stake. Why, exactly, do you want to accomplish this goal? What is at risk if you don’t? I always list these as bullet points under my goal. What is at stake in me running the half marathon in 2:15?
    • My ability to lead myself.
    • My desire for continuous improvement.
    • My ability to set a big goal and achieve it.
  3. Develop a detailed action plan. When I signed my first book contract, I almost hyperventilated. I was like the proverbial dog that caught the firetruck. Now what? I thought. The thought of writing 75,000 words terrified me. (This was in the days before I began blogging, so I had no idea what I was up against.) I determined that I would get up extra early and write for four hours. I timed myself and discovered I could write about 250 words an hour. At 1,000 words a day, I could finish in 75 days. If I could do this five days a week, I could finish in 15 weeks.
  4. Go public with your commitment. This is a huge key. When I decided to run my first half marathon, I decided to announce it on my blog. For me, this was like Cortez burning his ships off the Veracruz coast. Once I did it, there was no turning back. I was committed, and I was going to follow-through. It’s probably just pride, but “going public” has proven to be a great lever in moving me toward my goals.
  5. Join (or form) a group committed to the same goal. This is also really important. It is why groups like AA help so many people get sober. It is why Weight Watchers help so many people lose weight. It is also why running groups help so many people run or walk their first marathon. But you can join or start a group for just about anything today. The camaraderie and accountability will help you more than you can imagine.
  6. Review your goal and rationale regularly. When I was writing my first book, I literally read my goal out loud at the beginning of each day. I also reviewed what was at stake. I prayed that God would help me. I tried to exercise faith by visualizing the goal as if it were completed. Reconnecting to the dream and why it is important took the tedium out of daily writing. It gave me purpose and meaning. It kept me going when I wanted to quit.
Question: What have you found helpful in accomplishing your biggest goals.
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  • Colleen Coble

    Great post, Mike! I have to look at a big goal in small steps or I can feel overwhelmed. For a book, I figure out how many words a day I have to write to make my goal then keep behind in chair until I get there. It might take a few hours or it might take all day, but I don't let myself do something else until that daily goal is met.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That kind of discipline is crucial. I think there is just something about sitting down with the intent to write rather than waiting for inspiration. I almost never get inspired until I start. Thanks for your comments!

  • Christopher Hopper

    I love “going public” and “getting in a group.” Those two really seem to be essential in all of life. “Hey, for anyone listening, here’s what I’m doing; oh yeah, and I could use your encouragement.” I think that’s why a healthy church community is so important, too.

    A minor amendment I might add, is that in that “group,” to find a key “encourager/butt-kicker.” Having someone that will always call it like they see it, and is not afraid to likewise get in your face, has really helped me personally. One of my greatest achievments as a teen was becoming an Eagle Scout; while my dad and Scout Masters were all their for support, it was my mom who kicked my tail all along the way. Without her, I would have never made the dealine. Over a decade later, I still thank her for it. ch:

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I like that, too. If I have agreed with someone in my group to meet them at the group meeting, I have a hard time not going!

  • John Richardson

    Great article, Michael. I find that big goals usually require a pretty hefty time commitment. From experience, I have to set aside a realistic time block first. Once I have the time block, I can divide it up into action steps. The key for me is to keep things as flexible as possible. If I get too rigid on my commitments, my goals turn from "want to" to "have to" and can quickly become tedious. Keeping the time commitment with flexibility has really been a key for me.

    The other thing that has really been helpful is to keep my goals where I can see them. On my blog I have a goal setting toolkit that has printable business sized cards to keep my goals in front of me whether in the car or at my desk. I have a daily card as well as 12 week and long term cards. It's simple, but really helps to keep me focused on the goal throughout the day. The MS Word template works with Avery business card stock and is a free download at… . Your readers may find this useful.
    My recent post I Clicked The Button And Suddenly Twitter Made Sense

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, John. I am heading over now to download the template. This sounds GREAT!

    • @MarilynYocum

      Keeping goals in front of my face – yes! Great reminder.
      My recent post Selective Listening

    • BillSpinks

      Thanks for the templates John….I got the 4/12/48 and two others while there. Also enjoyed your last blog post:… about the Stats button in hootsuite. I never knew!


  • @mark_topley

    Great post Mike.

    For me, getting started is the key. So often when faced with something big it's easy to go round the thing for ages crippled by the size of the task. Then you get depressed about your level of procrastination and the problem gets worse!

    If I can just do SOMETHING to get started, the other things tend to fall into place. Once there's some kind of planning on paper, even if it's just a spider diagram, it doesn't seem so daunting. At that point all the other things you mention above are key, but I would say the Action Plan – 'what am I going to actually do NEXT?' is where it hits home.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Getting started is key. Once I take the first step, my energy starts to build. The challenge is to overcome that initial inertia.

  • Daniel Decker

    Great list. For me, one thing that has helped is that I try to work some margin for the unexpected into my goals. Life can be like a boxing match sometimes with a right hook that comes out of the blue, laying you out on the floor. Instead of just laying there, I’ve learned to just get back up and keep on going – in part because I’ve anticipated those occasional jabs. If I fall down and get behind, I get up and work harder to get back on course.
    My recent post DanielDecker: RT @b_rewster: i heard this today and am wrestling with it: God does not call us to TRUST people only to LOVE people & trust Him.

  • Tom

    Personally, scheduling.

    I find that when I allot specific block of time for running, workouts, blogging, readings, whatever, I get the most stuff done.
    My recent post Taking Responsibility For Your Life – This Is No Time To Pray

    • Michael Hyatt

      One of my coaches once told me, “What get schedules gets done.” So true.

  • Karen Jordan

    Reading articles by others who have accomplished big goals helps me accomplish my own goal! :) Seriously, I guess that's why I'm so driven to write about my own victories–because people (like you) have shared their wisdom with me. Thanks a million!

  • Mari-Anna Stalnacke

    This reminded me of a Michelangelo quote "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." We need to pray hard, dream big and work faithfully and we will be surprised what gets done.

    I also love your question "what's at stake?". It really steers us clear when we are about to make wrong choises. Thank you for your faithful leadership!
    My recent post Simple Living: a Chore or a Privilege?

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome!

      I love that question, too. I ask it of myself all the time.

  • Geoff Webb

    Thanks for the list, Mike. I especially liked how you turned "Determine your Purpose" (the way I would have said it) into "Determine what is at stake." That charges your goal with emotion. It's what we do when we write stories and create characters, right?

    For me, I'd add "Execute with disciplined flexibility." I find I have to ruthlessly stick to my detailed plan but be prepared to adapt and improvise as life comes at me. This is NOT license to let feelings or moods run the show. It's keeping in mind the original intent for the plan as you execute it.

    One way I do this is by scheduling regular "azimuth checks" to make sure I'm still on course and my plan is still relevant to reality. I only allow myself to alter my plan at these predetermined azimuth checks rather than when the alarm clock goes off!

    My recent post 3 Ways to Make Yourself Easy to Follow

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great addition. Thanks.

  • Mark Zimmerman

    Good luck in your training and upcoming race! Check out my running blog http//:Battlefieldrunning.blogspot
    Great post.

  • @MarilynYocum

    Brushes with mortality.
    To answer your question, there is no wake-up call quite like a brush with mortality – diagnosis received or close call or losing someone special – to reprioritize life, clarify goals and get off my duff. Sad but true. Once off my duff, the points you mention are absolutely the essential tools for success! Great post again!
    My recent post Selective Listening

    • Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. That's why I say, “If you don’t create a crisis of your own making now, you will encounter one not of your making later.” Example, you can either exercise now or face a health crisis later. The health crisis will cost you dearly and it is guaranteed to happen at a time when you can’t afford to be sick!

  • Brett Cohrs

    My biggest struggle: Sitting down in a goal-setting session with myself, and ending up w/ too many goals and some difficulty paring things down to some top key prioritized goals that I can accomplish. Just reading your blog, I listed areas to have goals in: Work, Home, Family, Finance, Health, Faith, Writing. I broke out into a sweat thinking of all the things important to me that I want to accomplish. I need to back up, decide on 2 or 3 to gain traction on, and then maybe add the others (not neglecting those areas in general, but not, for example, tackle training for a marathon while trying to write my first book while trying to re-landscape my home, etc. I've enjoyed following your blog these last few days. Thanks for your insights.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You might want to start with a Life Plan. I provide step-by-step guidance here.

  • Rick Yuzzi

    My biggest obstacle at times are the demands of life. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day challenges of balancing the responsibilities of work, family, church. You have to find the time first to set an appointment with yourself to come up with your goals. That's the hardest step for me. Also, once you have your goal, a deadline helps. I assigned myself the task of writing a Christmas story that was published on the tech support site our company provides for our Internet customers. We advertised it was coming, so, it was a public commitment, like you suggested. Plus, it was a twelve part story, and I decided to do it at the last minute. I had to stay a day or so ahead in the story, or the whole thing would come crashing down. But, once I had taken the time to plan the story out and knew where it was going, the daily writing wasn't too bad. Without the public commitment and the deadline I had each day, it would not have happened.
    My recent post Let’s not add to the offense of the Gospel

  • Cara

    I'm trying to lose half my body weight—135 lbs. I've already lost 100 lbs. I just can't get these last 35 lbs to come off. Here, I think, is my problem…

    Get clear on your goal: Simple… lose 35 more lbs.

    Determine what is at stake: My health, my happiness, my life.

    Develop a detailed action plan: I journal my daily food intake and my exercise. I blog about my weight loss journey.

    Go public with your commitment: I've told EVERYONE I run into, even strangers, about my weight loss goals.

    Join (or form) a group committed to the same goal: I go to Weight Watchers meetings EVERY Saturday. I haven't missed one Saturday meeting since May 12, 2007.

    Review your goal and rationale regularly: This is where I fall apart. I'm stuck in the trenches of losing weigh. I can't seem to get past 100 lbs. I gain 5 lbs, I lose 5 lbs, and this cycle has been going on for about a year, now. And I WAR with myself in the mornings when it's time to get out of bed and go running. I LOVE RUNNING!!!! I'm running my first marathon on Feb 14. I'm actually captivated by running right now, but I just can't seem to get myself of bed in the mornings. Running at lunch it out of the question. And running at night is too dangerous in my neighborhood (and I've proven to myself that I will not go to the gym).

    How can I want something with all my heart and want it SO desperately, but yet, I just can't seem to get myself there??

    • Michael Hyatt

      One of the things I have done in the past is to find a running partner and hook up with them for ALL my runs. If I know David (a real-life running partner at one point) is going to be standing on the street corner at 6:00 a.m. waiting for me, I HAVE to get up, get dressed, and meet him.

  • Laura Click

    Love this post! You're right – working with a group makes goals much more attainable. I felt the exact same way Saturday – I was dreading the five-mile run in the cold. But, running with the group made it go swiftly, and it was actually enjoyable! In comparison, when running alone, your head gets in the way, you notice aches and pains more and it's much more tempting to stop. It's becoming very clear that this running experience is translating into many life lessons. With anything, group support holds you accountable and makes tasks much more fun!

    On another note, I think writing your goals down is one of the most powerful things you can do. One year, I had my goals posted on my bathroom mirror so I could see them every morning when I got ready for work. It might be time to reinstate that practice!

    My recent post Setting Goals to Cross the Finish Line

    • Lindsey_Nobles

      How did we still not meet on Saturday? I can't go this week :( but am going to make a point of finding you week after.
      My recent post Fake It Until You Make It?

      • Laura Click

        I know! I hate that we missed each other. Maybe next week! Which pace group are you in? Let me know and I'll keep an eye out for you next week.
        My recent post Setting Goals to Cross the Finish Line

  • Lindsey_Nobles

    A great reminder. Unfortunately one I needed to hear.

    I have been SLACKING on my Half Marathon Goal. I need to reconnect with my original vision and get myself to the gym during the week. Easier said than done.
    My recent post Fake It Until You Make It?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Write it down, girl. Go public on your blog. Back yourself into a corner!

  • Jaymie

    Great post! I can think of one huge work "goal" I had a few years ago. The only way I got through it was by rallying a group of people around me to pray for me. They sent me emails of encouragement, checked on my progress and let me vent when things were difficult. That group made all the difference in accomplishing that goal.
    My recent post Waiting on WEDNESDAY

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yea, I think that is one of the most important components.

  • Diane Maxey

    I needed this. Thanks to a friend for posting this on FB.

  • Amy

    Here I am thinking, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of work." Either I'm not that dedicated or I'm move of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. For my creative soul to function, I just need to be simple. So far, BE BOLD IN 2010 has worked out pretty well. :)

    Thanks for your insight, Michael! It is always wonderful.

    • Michael Hyatt

      If it works for you, go for it. I like simplicity. ;-)

  • Carrie

    Great post! One of my goals for this year is to run the very same half marathon. I purposely chose one out of state to help create a larger commitment in my mind. Thanks for the encouraging reminder. Now I need to work to apply these steps to goals in other areas of my work and life.

  • Mark Young

    I try to determine where my goal fits within my priorities for life—God, family, business, other. Then, work to achieve that goal within that framework.

  • Michael Hyatt

    I try to do that, too, within the context of my Life Plan.

  • Sean

    I agree with all but key #4 – I've never found it helpful going public with my goal.

    I read a study a year or two back that reported findings associated with "going public" vs. getting to work. The study made a great point. Once we announce our intentions, (running a marathon, going to graduate school, writing a book, starting a mentoring group etc.) we immediately receive the accolades for doing the work required of reaching these huge goals. The study cited a mother telling other mothers about her intention to enroll her child in an elite private school. Once she makes the announcement, she receives the validation for having such a noble pursuit, the other mothers are (presumably) impressed. Because the affirmation is already there, the study says, people are less likely to follow through.

    For the life of me, I can't find the study, but it changed my life.
    My recent post

    • Michael Gray

      I would have to agree with your take on the false sense of accomplishment that going public can produce. I cringe when I think of the many goals to which I have committed myself on my blog. It’s sort of depressing to realize now that so few of them have been achieved.

      I’m a master at planning — I’ve even got a fully completed Michael Hyatt Life Plan sitting beside my bed — but my follow-through is embarassing. I’ve been paving hell for far too many years.

      • Michael Gray

        That is, paving THE ROAD to hell. :)

    • John Richardson

      I have had a similar experience, Sean. I find when I make things public with too many specifics, my goals often go from "want to" to "have to" and can become a huge chore. But saying in an off the cuff manner that I want to accomplish some huge goal and numerous people tell me that I can't… that is a different story. Doing what other people say is impossible, quietly and without fanfare, is very motivating.
      My recent post I Clicked The Button And Suddenly Twitter Made Sense

    • John Richardson

      I have had a similar experience, Sean. I find when I make things public with too many specifics, my goals often go from "want to" to "have to" and can become a huge chore. But saying in an off the cuff manner that I want to accomplish some huge goal and numerous people tell me that I can't… that is a different story. Doing what other people say is impossible, quietly and without fanfare, is very motivating.
      My recent post I Clicked The Button And Suddenly Twitter Made Sense

  • Bethany LeBedz

    Thanks for posting the nitty-gritty how-tos. This was very helpful. I've been doing some of the things on the list, but I need to join a group.
    My recent post Beyond Blah

  • Michael Hyatt

    Interesting. That has certainly not been my experience. Having said that, I don't see this as either/or (i.e., going public vs. getting to work). I think both are required. Thanks.

  • Ali

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I really respect the advice you give because you have accomplished a great deal in your life, and you are a worthy leader.

    This post comes at a time in my life when I am making a decision to pursue a new goal. I already have a JD, and I worked as an attorney for only a few months, yet I did not find many rewards in being a lawyer. I fell into my current career, and I have not been challenged for a long time–and inertia has definitely settled in. I have recently found myself wanting so much more out of my job. After talking to one of my best friends, who is always my biggest encourager, I have decided to go back to school (hopefully I get in) to get my MBA. The monetary cost for this degree will be minimal so that is an extra incentive.

    However, the thought of going back to school at almost 40 years of age, while I hold a full-time job is a bit scary, and I know I will have to sacrifice time with friends and many relaxing things that I like to do. But in the long-term, I believe this degree will help me in many ways.

    In terms of what has been the most helpful for me in achieving my goals, I would say first and foremost it is the encouragement of those who love me and are closest to me. They are the ones who tell me that I should not settle and that I have the ability to achieve what I want to achieve.

    PS I found you initially through AFR (and your podcasts there), and I have really enjoyed all that you have to say.

  • David Henderson MD

    Hi Michael,
    What a great reminder to set goals and then plan the steps necessary to get there. I love the verse that says, "A man plans his way but the Lord directs His steps." Sometimes we set goals for ourselves, but as we start moving forward, the Lord leads us in a different direction. That's why I think your point about frequently reviewing our goals is so important. I am at the verge of heading into private practice for myself, so this post was very timely.

    I can really relate to your illustrations as well. My wife and I are into triathlons and the only time I can work out is in the early morning. I have often sat at the side of my bed waffling between the urge to retreat back under the covers or march out the front door to the gym. Having a race scheduled (usually one that costed a significant amount of money) will more often than not keep me going!
    My recent post How To Help A Friend In Pain

  • Thanh

    This is a much better list than ones I've seen about the same topic of achieving big goals. Going public is an idea for me.
    My recent post Interview of MediaBistro Founder

  • Cindy_Graves

    These are great points! I had already considered #s 1, 4, and 5. I'm so glad I now have the others to use as well.

    One thing that I find helpful and inspiring is hearing an honest accomplishment story from a "plain ol' person." I get a boost of "If they can do THAT, then certainly I can do THIS."

    Thanks for this. I feel better equiped to start that BIG project I've been putting off.
    My recent post Fighting With “Why Bother”…

  • Lindsey_Nobles

    I'm in the 12 minute group.
    My recent post Fake It Until You Make It?

  • bondChristian

    The social side is huge. That's got to be the best way to do anything… get people on your side (or against you telling you you can't do it if that motivates you). I think Paul in the Bible said, "Bad company corrupts good habits." That's so true. Our friends make more impact on what we do than our habits. It sounds unrealistic, but it's accurate.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.
    My recent post How to expose someone’s goodness

  • Sarah Sandifer

    Great article here! I have done two triathlons (which were HARD, but so rewarding) and I found myself referencing many of my experiences in training for those while reading this post. I trained with several girlfriends who were doing it with me, and I also made sure to tell people what I was training for so that I couldn't just back out when it got hard. I needed accountability. I find many of these needing to be true as I'm journeying on the road to publication as well. Initially it was very hard for me to tell people I was writing a book- that's so vulnerable!- but now I see that it's all a part of the process and it helps me to know that it is a real-deal goal that I am doing everything I can to pursue, not just something that fills my time and I can back out of easily. Having people with you in the journey is one of the most important pieces.

  • AllisonMR

    Thanks, very helpful tips!

    Going public is something that generally works for me, as well as planning my day (or reviewing my agenda) the night before so that I know exactly what I want to accomplish during the day – reviewing the night before helps me to get up and go with more determination.

    My recent post Buen provecho…. uh, thanks?

  • Priscilla

    Thanks for the insight! I personally need a lot of feedback, especially for my writing, which is scientific papers. I consider myself a beginning researcher, and feedback helps me figure out what sections I need to flesh out, the point I would like to make, etc. Without feedback, I find that I get stuck.
    I think that having a clearer goal for large, daunting projects with smaller actionable steps would be really helpful for me.

  • BillSpinks

    Quoting Mari-Anna Stalnacke, "thanks for your faithful leadership!" ditto…

    Great, practical steps for getting the "big rocks" into the jar.


  • Deborah J. Thompson

    Great article! I am currently working on a book, "Your Life, Your Choice", which gives 5 simple steps for harnessing the power of your choices to bring more Love, Joy and Peace into your life. Chapter 3 entitled, "Define" talks about goal-setting and suggests that you go a step further and define the kind of person you will be when you achieve that goal. Does it fit with your higher purpose in life? How will attaining that goal impact the world around you? Will it help you to help others?

    I have found that aligning my goals with a higher purpose gives me more motivation to follow through on the steps it takes to achieve those goals. And if they aren't empowering me to become a better person, then they are probably not the right goals for me.

    Thanks again for your insightful perspective and for being so open to share your wisdom and experience.

    Peace be with you,

    Deborah J. Thompson
    Contributing writer for and "The Fish"

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  • Phil Armour

    Great thoughts. Thanks!

  • Bradley J. Moore

    Michael- This kind of post is what makes you a great blogger and keeps us all coming back to your site for more. This is clear, motivating (inspiring, even!) and replicable. You are a great example, and your transparency is much appreicated.
    My recent post Nine Things I Learned From Guest Posting on Michael Hyatt’s Blog

  • @jeffkeady

    This was a great post Mike! I needed the encouragement and inspiration, especially about going public and formed a group of like-minded people striving for a similar goal. I am going for it!

  • Matthew Dent

    Great post and I especially liked #4 "going public." I a few years back when I was talked into doing a century ride without training or ever getting on a road bike I ran with this idea. I knew the only way I would finish is if I told my friends what I had planned on doing and it worked! Since then, I have tried it in other aspects of my life and it works. I am not one for failure and being held accountable by my friends and family is enough to push me forward. Thanks for putting a belief to words!
    My recent post Establishing Connections & Maintaining Rapport

  • Dyaji

    Permt me to reproduce a copy of this on my blog.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You can click on the Copyright link at the top of the page to get more information about permissions.

  • Stephanie

    To help me achieve goals–especially big ones that are pretty open-ended–I do a few things : (part 1 of 4)

    1. I make ridiculously small commitments to progress that have to be done very frequently (for example, I'm learning a new game which is very simple in theory but the practice is extremely complex and I do problems to develop my skill : at least five each day)–and I track them ; I keep an excel sheet with various of my ongoing goals and I literally mark which ones I work towards and which ones I don't–every single day. Sometimes the record-keeping can be problematic, so keeping the increments small and simple is really helpful for keeping mental notes. Generally this commitment is a minimum–if I'm feeling good about doing something I can do more of it–and I usually only fall back on my minimum as a cut-off when I'm sick or in a really foul mood, most of the time I over-achieve and that is motivating for me to continue. Even if I don't really feel like doing something I feel like I can do some (even forcefully, this is why it's important that the increment is ridiculously small) and still keep my commitment to myself to work on it. Being able to trust myself when I make a goal is of utmost importance and this tactic is almost entirely devoted to maintaining and developing that trust.

    • Stephanie

      (part 2 of 4)
      2. I have a lot of conditional commitments ; they don't come into play until a certain situation has precipitated — for example, I'm learning a musical instrument and practice is very important for developing the muscle-memory, strength and flexibility necessary to do it properly. Not all practices are inspiring, some are downright awful. When a practice session goes bad, I have a rule that I must fight it out for another fifteen minutes (this is better for me than using getting through a composition as an increment because sometimes the problem has to do with my equipment and not the piece I'm working on). At the end of that time, whether I've turned the practice session around or not, I put it away. More often than not I'm able to get through whatever rough patch and even if I can't the effort [astoundingly!] always shows in my next practice.

    • Stephanie

      (part 3 of 4)

      3. A lot of my commitments are "floating" — not tied to a particular time or day as much as a period (for example doing something before work, any time before work ; or doing a certain activity three or four out of five days or two out of three days). Using relativistic terms (before/after something else), periods or windows of time (accomplishing something that takes 15minutes any time in a 2-hour block), and ratios (five times in a week) when framing my goal-related activity gives me a lot of flexibility so that while I do tend to fit things in in a somewhat regular and established pattern, disruptions are easier to deal with, volatility in my schedule both from external and internal forces are far more tolerable and I don't have to feel like I've failed, am making up for a mistake, or am unreliable when it comes to keeping my commitments to reach my goals. I feel like I have options, but they're not so open that they can be continuously brushed off.

    • Stephanie

      (part 4 of 4)

      4. Lastly, and this can be tough, is I generally don't allow "make up"s. I hold to a pace. If I fall behind in something, I don't try to do what I "missed", I just pick it up again. If I don't do as well with one goal as I'd have liked, it doesn't carry over to my next "goal-period". This is especially helpful in my language goals ; I don't give myself an extra day or two to memorize vocabulary, and I don't try to learn twice as much one week because I got too busy and missed it last week. This adds some urgency to my activities and keeps me under some pressure to get around to things that seem like endlessly uphill battles. I have a certain amount of task and a certain amount of time and my challenge to myself is to get as much out of it as I can ; it lends a sense of purpose to tedious tasks and lets me revel in being clever about striking "while the iron is hot" and looking for opportunities to fit in meeting my goals. A recent example is studying Chinese-character compounds : a huge and relatively unpredictable task–you never know which compound you'll see the day after you've learned it or which one you won't see for months and there are so many, anyway, that the task is basically always daunting. I have seven days to learn as many of a given 300 compounds as possible. Of course, in this arrangement, I don't require that I learn them all perfectly ; I expect myself to learn 150 or 200 perfectly and to at least be able to recognize that I've studied the rest, though I often reach a figure closer to 250. It wouldn't be possible for me if I said to myself, "I will study these 300 until I've mastered them and then and only then will I get another 300…" I would run out of steam, bogged down in a marshland of Chinese-characters and come to resent Chinese-character compounds more than anything else all in record time.

      I find these four elements have really saved my ongoing, long-term, endless goals from being thrown to the wayside in fits of frustration–and it took a lot of frustration to figure them out.

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  • tracey solomon

    by taking the next step. Each day. and celebrating the interim goals met.

    Interesting.. I just wrote about meeting an interim goal today.. I’m up to 6 miles (walking and running intervals)- but today? I ran my first mile straight in 20 years.

    I didn’t think I could. I took the next step. And the next. ;)

  • christine lewis

    Ijust want to say thankyou for the blog it’s really helpful and encouraging.. oh and i love yours and gails tweets the family thing always comes over beautifully. x

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  • Bill McConnell

    Thanks for the advise. I'm working on a rather big goal myself regarding my website/blog. I admit my biggest fear is #4- Going public. I do fear failure in my endeavor but I'm committed to it nonetheless.

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  • Mianaja

    Just doing something that progresses my goal daily is helpful.  I tend to procrastinate and want to be perfectly organized and find that hinders me from actually doing anything, so amidst the mess, I do something, write, make a phone call, meet someone etc and am amazed at how progress emerges from the rubble.  So I am going through  a paradigm shift where I am speaking my goals daily and doing something  daily and tracking it all in my calendar.  I find your emails to be so helpful and my goal is eventually to write a book as well.  But my big goal is to hit a financial goal in my business and for my business team.
    My other goal is to get closer to the Lord and restore my Bible study and relationship with him. 

  • James Cook

    Some great advice (and running in my 2nd half-marathon this year.)  Actually broke my goals into weekly/daily tasks that I print up in a weekly ‘to-do’ sheet just for my goals.  It’s working fabulously.  After years of setting goals, I’m finding having clarity and details is CRUCIAL to moving fast and keeping on target.

  • William

    I like the public part. Really helps when you have other people ”watching you”

    I like to make my goals emotional :)

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  • tom rose

    2:15 for a half marathon is not very ambitious – unless it is up a steep hill all the way. It is close to 10 minutes per mile, and that is not hugely faster than  a brisk walk.  If you are moderately fit and not overweight you could probably achieve it without any special training at all.

    • Michael Hyatt

      It totally depends on your age and condition.

      • tom rose

        Well I am nearly 60 and I do around 1:30 in training runs at the half marathon distance, without really pushing. Someone half my age, and unhampered by excess weight or a definite physical problem should be able to do better than that on relatively little training.

  • dvp

    It helped me nothing