Goal-setting can be exciting, but so many people tend to lose steam before they ever hit their finish line.
If you struggle with sticking to your goals, it can be tempting to give up. Even worse, it’s easy to look at people who are hitting their goals and feel jealous. Especially if their goals are your goals too. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt that specific kind of envy. “What do they have that I don’t?”
But the truth is, there’s not a lot of difference between people who consistently hit and even exceed their goals, and people who don’t. In all honesty… it only comes down to a handful of things.
The best part is, they’re things you can learn!
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The 11 Habits of People Who Always Hit Their Goals
1. They Don’t Rely on Motivation
Motivation can be an amazing thing. When inspiration strikes and you rush to a notebook to quickly capture the amazing idea you had… wow! When you wake up feeling fired up and confident and you can’t wait to go crush it in the gym… awesome!
Motivation can be a powerful driving force behind action. But when you rely on it to be the main driving force behind action, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Because motivation doesn’t stick around. It’s a short burst of power that can last anywhere from an hour to a couple days, but then it’s gone. As soon as you get tired, you get sick, life gets stressful… it’s nowhere to be found.
So if you wait until motivation strikes in order for you to work on your goals, you’re not gonna have a very good time.
What do they do instead?
People who always hit their goals develop self-motivation. Self-motivated people don’t need to wait around for inspiration to strike, because they keep the fire stoked inside themselves.
If it sounds easier said than done, it’s a simple habit to develop. The next time you’re feeling blah and unmotivated, remind yourself why you set your goal in the first place. What are you working toward? Why do you want it? What does it mean to you?
This is where a vision board or a Dream Life Manifesto can come in handy. Anything on hand to remind yourself who you are and what you’re accomplishing.
2. They Learn From Failures
A common misconception about people who achieve big goals is that they succeed at everything they try.
That’s not rooted very firmly in reality. (That’s a polite way of saying it’s a big fat lie).
Everyone fails sometimes. The big difference is in how you handle it.
People who have established a pattern of success have learned how to analyze failures and figure out what went wrong. Then they apply that knowledge to their next endeavor.
If Plan A didn’t work, they move on to Plan B.
If everyone gave up every time something didn’t go as planned, the world would have very little scientific breakthroughs. It’s even called a “breakthrough” because it’s a success that comes on the heels of a thousand failures. It breaks through the pattern of dead ends to reach an end point that all those other attempts couldn’t hit.
Related: How to Learn From a Failed Goal
Instead, figure out what went wrong and what you can learn from it. Then get back up and dust yourself off!
3. They Practice Consistency
Consistency is probably the biggest indicator of success you can find.
It’s all well and good to set big goals, but that’s not enough to help you achieve them. All the clever acronyms and goal setting exercises in the world won’t help you if you don’t do the work.
As in starting right away and sticking at it. Every time. Consistent action steps towards your goals. Not just one time, or sometimes, but every time.
Think of your actions as the building blocks you’re climbing up to get to your goal. If they’re not all there, or if you’re leaving huge gaps between them… you’re not on steady ground.
4. They Don’t Give Up
I’m curious about what’s going on when people say, “I tried really hard to do X, but it just didn’t happen”.
X can be anything that people usually try hard to do. Pay off debt, lose 20 pounds, learn the guitar. Move to France.
What on earth do you mean by, “it just didn’t happen?”
While goal-setting advice usually includes setting an end date for your goal, that end date is not a law. There’s no rule that if you don’t hit the goal by that end date, it’s over and gone for good.
Successful people don’t say, “it just didn’t happen.” They say, “it hasn’t happened yet, but it will.”
The only 100% sure way to say that achieving your dreams is definitely never going to happen for you is if you stop trying. As long as you’re still working towards that, there’s still a chance.
You can’t win the race if you don’t stay on the horse! (I just made that one up).
5. They Don’t Accept Excuses
This goes hand-in-hand with the above, not giving up.
Because if you ask someone who gave up why they gave up, you’ll often hear a diatribe about a hundred different things. Their family, their job, the economy, their location, the government, their circumstances got in the way. The game is rigged.
Sometimes, a task requires more of you than you expected, and you have to re-evaluate your priorities. That’s one thing.
But every time someone says, “I couldn’t do this because of this reason”, there’s someone else in those same circumstances or worse who decided that wasn’t going to hold them back.
Look, this sounds very tough-love because it is.
There are going to be a hundred, a hundred thousand, a million things working against you.
Don’t be one of them.
6. They Prioritize Themselves
You are the most important asset you will ever have.
People who follow a pattern of success know that in order to run at peak efficiency, they have to keep the engine well oiled and the gas tank full.
That means practicing self-care, staying healthy physically and mentally, and taking time for themselves when they need it.
If you’re sacrificing sleep in favour of late nights working, grabbing whatever is quick and convenient to eat despite a lack of nutritional value, or killing yourself with overtime, you’re going to burn out and probably get sick.
What’s the point in sacrificing your health for your goals if you won’t be able to enjoy having met your goals without your health?
7. They Implement Systems
Goal-getters know something that almost feels too simple to be useful: life is a lot easier when you let your systems do the work for you.
This is why I tell you guys about the benefits of having daily routines. It’s why I think you should be waking up early to create a morning routine. It’s why I automate as much as possible.
I believe that making decisions on how to spend our time and what to do next is one of the biggest wastes of our mental resources.
Setting systems in place to take the guesswork out of goal work makes things flow so much better.
As James Clear says, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”
8. They Schedule and Protect Their Time
You have big dreams, and limited time. How do you get it all done?
Time management, for me, has always been twofold: First you plan put your hours to make time for what’s important to you. Then you have to protect that time.
A common complaint from people who work from home is that other people don’t see their working hours as hard boundaries. “Working from home”, to friends and family, is easily interpreted as “available for coffee dates, chats, and definitely able to do this favour for me right now with no prior warning”.
Maybe your friends don’t share your fitness goals, and don’t get why you can’t blow off the gym just this one time to go see a movie. Whatever it is, you’re going to come up against situations that test your time.
The key to handling these situation is to build time into your schedule for leisure and socializing, and get better at setting boundaries.
For me, I have an app on my phone that blocks me from using it for however long I need to. Messages get answered when I have the time to get to them, and while it’s running, I focus on what I’m supposed to be doing (you can read more about that here – The Productivity Tools I Use Daily.)
Obviously, build buffer times into your schedule – you can’t have every moment of every day planned out perfectly.
But scheduling goal work into your day, every day, and defending that time when needed is crucial to staying on track to meet your goals.
9. They Know What They’re Aiming For
You’ve heard all about SMART goals, and why you need specificity and timeliness in a goal.
It’s ubiquitous advice for a reason. Without these factors, you’re spinning your wheels.
How can you hit a goal if you don’t know what your goal is?
“Lose weight”, “Get rich”, “Get better at X”, these are terrible goals.
You need to know exactly what you want so you can know exactly what you need to do.
Additionally, without a deadline a goal is just a wish. It’s not a plan. And it’s definitely not something you feel in any hurry to work toward.
“Write a book” is a whisper you can choose to ignore. “Publish my book by November 2020” is a command you’re inclined to follow.
People who always hit their goals know that the first step to accomplishing any goal is to set it properly and with intention.
So ditch the jealousy.
What people who always hit their goals know is that it doesn’t come down to luck, and there’s no hidden shortcut. Just habits you can develop, and skills you can build. What are you waiting for?
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