The Secret to Setting and Achieving Your Goals

December 12, 2023

life hacksBy Linda Nacif

Melissa was a stellar agent in a small real estate agency. After years of being the top earner in her company, she moved from that small agency into one of the largest real estate firms in the country. Melissa felt like she was moving up in the world and had high expectations to achieve even more in her new job. Unfortunately, after a few months of lackluster sales, Melissa felt like she wasn’t living up to it. She couldn’t understand why – she was doing the same kind of prospecting, honing her closing skills and working longer hours. But she didn’t know exactly what her objective was. Melissa was missing a goal. She was trying to achieve a vague dream, without a map or action plan to reach it.

There’s no big secret to achieving what you want out of life. The way to make your goals a reality is by empowering yourself with intellectual, emotional and practical tools, and converting them into habits. Here are the seven tools you need to achieve your professional or personal goals:

1. Define your dream.

Many of us dream about earning more money, getting that promotion or changing careers. Have you ever asked yourself why it is that once you have the additional money, the new position or a different career, you still aren’t happy? The reason is probably because you haven’t defined what your dream really is. It might not be the extra cash but the means to surround your family with comfort; it might not be about getting promoted, but being recognized for a job well-done; changing careers could be because you think that a new career will give you the excitement and enthusiasm you have lost.

It’s not until you know what your dream truly is that you will be able to do the work necessary to achieve it and receive the satisfaction and rewards you deserve. Now, without censoring yourself, say out loud: “My dream is…”

2. Convert your dream into a goal.

The difference between a dream and a goal is a written date. Writing down a specific goal and a date forces us to do things we might never have done. It permits us to measure our progress and keep us focused on reaching that dream.

Get a pen and paper and write down your specific dream or goal, along with the date when you are going to achieve it. If you won’t commit to paper and pen, you won’t be able to commit to the reality of accomplishing the task when faced with challenges. Write it down in your calendar or PDA so that you can keep track of your progress and make the efforts necessary to reach it.

3. Write your goal on post-it notes and put them everywhere.

Each morning and evening before you go to sleep, read your goal. Envision yourself as that successful person. Feel the luxury of that new car. Smell the ocean from your dream vacation. See yourself sitting at the desk of your own company. Make that goal yours in your mind. When you write down your goal, make sure that it is specific and motivates you.

For example: “On April 30, 2008, I, Henry Smith, have been promoted to regional sales manager. I am in charge of a productive sales team, where each member is respectful of my position. My job is fulfilling and challenges me. I have the ability to balance the life I have at work and the life I have at home. I feel confident, secure and free to be myself.”

4. Make a list of your assets and resources.

An asset could encompass your education, experience, or personality; it could include the people you know, your bank account, your personal appearance and even your car. If you have a hard time coming up with your assets, ask your friends, colleagues and family about your good qualities.

In Henry’s pursuit for a promotion to regional sales manager, he might say he is hard-working, determined, honest, organized and intelligent. He also has a good sense of humor and likes people. All of these qualities would be good for a manager.

Your resources, such as the people you know, your education and experience can help you achieve your goal. Henry knows that his neighbor Sam works in the same industry. He’s talked to him about sports, but has never brought up talk about their industry or asked how Sam got to his position as vice president. Perhaps Sam would be willing to help, or knows someone who could. Your education is another resource – does your school have an alumni association or networking events that you could attend? Do you need additional education to make your goal a reality?

5. Write down the obstacles.

The moment you set a goal, you and others will find a million reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t go after it. Contrary to a popular book, you will not attract obstacles or the naysayers, just because you are aware of them. In fact, the purpose of preempting barriers will facilitate your recognizing them when they occur and not use them as excuses to desist.

For example, Henry’s obstacle list could include:
“I am afraid of failure.”
“I am too old for the job and no one will promote me.”
“I am too busy with my home life to put the time into getting promoted.”
“I am not experienced enough to lead a large staff.”

It is obvious that Henry wants something but is sabotaging himself with negative self-talk. Before he begins his action plan, Henry needs to work on his belief system and find out where it comes from.

6. Write down why you want this goal.

Do you deserve to be happy and have what you want? What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve it? Do you want this more than anything else and are you willing to face anything to achieve it? If your “why” isn’t strong enough, you will not achieve your goal and will be able to blame the perceived obstacles.

Your why should look something like this: “I want to become regional vice president because I want to proud of my accomplishments. I want my family and friends to feel happy about my achievements. I want to do more for myself and my family, and by accomplishing this goal, I can provide them with the lifestyle they deserve.”

7. Write your action plan. A book is read from the first page to the last, but goals are set from the end and work up to the beginning. Where do you want to be in twenty years, ten, three, one year, a month from now?

Most of us spend our time on putting out fires, helping others and dealing with life’s daily activities, many of which have nothing to do with our dreams. From now on I want you to focus, focus, focus. Everything you do should lead you to achieving your goal. Notice how you spend your money and what percent goes towards achieving that goal.

Now you know what your goal really is, you have written down the exact date and possess a strong action plan. Who do you have to call? What do you have to read? What do you have to buy? Who do you have to be so that you can take back your power? Guess what? It’s no secret - you are already that person…it’s just a matter of time!

Linda Nacif, author of “Jump and the Joy Will Follow: How to Live in Conscious Joy and Health in Every Stage of Life,” is a bilingual author and speaker with a Master’s degree in clinical psychology. Through Linda’s breakthrough techniques and passionate communication, she encourages clients to dare to go beyond their comfort zone by being adventurous, fit and enthusiastic. For information on her keynotes and seminars, visit: or call: 619-733-2071.

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2 Responses to “The Secret to Setting and Achieving Your Goals”

  1. Albert | UrbanMonk.Net on December 12th, 2007 10:34 pm

    A very nice summary of all the important things. Many people I know would benefit from this, it’s almost like a condensed version of Think and Grow Rich! Thanks.

    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  2. Paul on January 18th, 2008 3:21 pm

    It’s important to remember that in attempting to achieve change in our lives we must not overwhelm ourselves. Focus on one major area at a time, or change one thing at a time and you will see results. You can then build on your success and continue the change in the next area.

    Thanks for the great article.

    Take care


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