7 Proven Steps to Achieve Any Goal in 2019
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Everyone has something they want to achieve. We all have professional and personal goals, and yet so many of us struggle to achieve our goals.
This is not because our goals are unattainable, or because we are incompetent or lazy, but it is rather the result of lack of planning.“Failing to plan is planning to fail” - that old adage applies to almost everything in life, including setting goals.
Setting goals is like firing at a target: you need to identify your target before you can aim at it, let alone hope to hit it.
That seems like an obvious statement, doesn’t it? Any top class marksman or archer will tell you that they can’t hit an invisible target. So why do so many of us think we can achieve our goals without defining them first. It’s time to face facts, you can’t achieve what you haven’t defined. The first step in achieving success is setting the right goals.
No one understood this better than the great Zig Ziglar.
He was a man who grasped the concept of goals; how to set them and achieve them. He used his goals, to not only become a brilliant salesman, but also a great man who achieved incredible personal and professional success. He did what many people only dream of, and he did it by setting goals. Not pie in the sky goals, but goals that were challenging, yet at the same time, realistic and achievable.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hours, every single day.” - Zig Ziglar
Ziglar and the success he achieved has inspired me throughout my career. One of the highlights of my professional life was being able to spend a few hours with this remarkable man. Ziglar started every Monday morning with a kick-off meeting with his staff and I personally had the privilege of attending one of his sessions.
The Man behind the Legend
Ziglar was one of the world’s most popular authors and motivational speakers. He consulted to Fortune 500 companies, motivated generations of Americans to strive for greatness and left a lasting legacy of success. During his forty year career, he produced a large body of work. His first book, "See You at the Top", was published in the 1970s and still remains relevant today. His audiobook, “Zig’s Secrets of Closing the Sales”, is an excellent training program for any aspiring salesperson.
But Zig was not born great, he worked hard to achieve his goals. Hilary Hinton Ziglar, nicknamed Zig, was born in Alabama in 1926, the tenth of 12 children, who were single-handedly raised by their mother after their father died in 1932. Life was tough for the Ziglar family and Zig started his professional life as a salesman, for the WearEverAluminium Company, while he was studying at the University of South Carolina. He soon showed a real aptitude for the job and in 1947 he dropped out of college to become a full-time employee of WearEver. The rest, as they say, is history. Ziglar worked hard and applied what he learned as a salesman to become a successful sales coach, author, and motivational speaker.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” - Zig Ziglar
Ziglar grasped the importance of goals and recognized that without proper goals it is impossible to achieve anything. With this in mind, he set out his Seven Steps of Goal Setting to help others reach their professional and personal goals. These are not complicated concepts, these are seven simple, yet highly effective, strategies that anyone can apply to transform their daily lives.
Step One: Identify the Goal
If you can’t identify your target you’re never going to hit it. It’s as simple as that.
Ziglar demonstrates this point beautifully by using the example of the archer, Howard Hill, who always hit his targets. Ziglar talks about how you have to have clearly defined targets if you want to achieve success.
But talking about goals is one thing, setting them is another. The key to identifying your goals and achieving them is being specific. You need to have well-defined goals that you write down and describe clearly. The goals need to be specific, achievable and measurable. The goal can’t be “I want to increase my sales by next week”, it needs to be “I want to increase my sales by 20% in the next three months”.
Step Two: List the Benefits
Or to put it another way, “what’s in it for me?” After you’ve identified your goals, you need to list how they will benefit you. If you set challenging goals but you can’t see the personal benefits, you won’t be motivated to achieve them. Knowing what’s in it for you is vital to achieving your goals.
Step Three: List the Obstacles
“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”
Nobody achieves their goals without overcoming some obstacles. If achieving your goals is too easy, then you haven’t set the right goals. Setting challenging goals is what pushes you to strive for greatness. Don’t be afraid to set hard goals, because with the proper preparation and forethought most obstacles can be anticipated, planned for and overcome.
It is important to take time to think things through and make a list of what may prevent you from achieving your goals, and then work out a strategy to overcome these obstacles.
Step Four: List the Skills and Knowledge You’ll Need
Knowing what you need and how to apply your skills goes a long way to achieving your goals. Knowledge gives you the power to accomplish many things, and skills are the tools you need to take advantage of that knowledge. When setting your goals you need to think about the knowledge and skills that you need to achieve those goals.
Step Five: Identify People and Groups to Work With
You will need a support base to help you achieve your goals. Identify people who can support you, offer advice, and improve your skills and knowledge. These people will be an essential part of your success and you need to know who they are. You need a list of who you can turn to for assistance, motivation, and support when things get tough.
Step Six: Set a Plan of Action
You can’t achieve anything without a good, workable plan. This is a crucial step in achieving your goals. Without a plan, you’re going nowhere. It is important to think through the details of your goals and work out how best to achieve them.
Step Seven: Set a Deadline
As I highlighted in step one, goals need to be realistic, achievable and measurable, but they also need to be time-specific. If you don’t set a realistic deadline, you won’t be accountable to anyone, including yourself. Deadlines keep you focused.
Those are the seven steps that Ziglar used to set his goals, and they worked for him, so there is no reason they can’t work for you.
As a final thought, I would like to leave you with one last great Ziglar quote:
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
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