Everyone wants more success in life but it doesn’t mean that they want to do something about it.
In most articles, they claim that the first step you need to do is to set SMART goals. After all, if you don’t know what you want, how can you possibly succeed?
Well, my answer is a YES and NO.
YES, because you have to know what you want. You have to know what success looks like. There are people who are never happy simply because they never defined what is a success to them and what must happen for them to feel successful.
NO, because SMART goals do not always lead you to be successful. It misses out two critical elements: The goal has to be important and motivating to you and you must actually feel that you can achieve it.
Most people have actually given up on setting goals in life. They have at one point in their life, set a new year’s resolution only to fail at it.
They make statements like “I want to lose weight, earn more money, exercise more, eat healthily or ______________ (fill in the blanks).”
They tried but can’t achieve it. They lose hope. Some even say that they have done a lot of things but it didn’t work out.
Some are also led to believe that they need to have stretch goals, which basically means goals that are beyond your normal capacity and stretches you to do more.
This idea of stretch goals has literally created many failures. To me, it will set you up for failure if you do not have a background of achieving your goals consistently. But to be fair, it will motivate some, probably the highly motivated ones.
Ok, I know I have talked about why people fail. So how do you set yourself up for success?
1. Frame a positive goal
Do not ever set a goal that has a negative statement in it, eg “I don’t want to be upset “or “I don’t want to be fearful in front of others.” It is not exactly exciting or compelling for you. Goals are more likely to be engaging if they are positively framed, eg “I want to be happier around others” or “I want to more confident in front of others.”
2. Get clear on your motivation
Whatever goal you have set, it has to mean something to you. If it is not meaningful, it will likely not be accomplished. Two questions that have worked with a lot of people that I train are:
“What difference would that make to you?”
“If you could achieve it, how would you feel?”
I can guarantee that every time I ask others these questions, I get a sense of excitement and smile as they talk about how life will be different for them. This reinforces motivation and brings out the resolve to make it happen in their lives.
3. Identify small steps forward
What you want remains a dream until you start taking small steps forward. This is where everything changes. You can only set yourself up for success if you win consistently. Taking small steps forward can only do this.
Big goals are too lengthy and intimidating for others. That’s why people procrastinate and stop doing anything.
I emphasise small because you need to identify what can be done within 2-4 weeks and actually do it so that you can win.
Think about it. How do you actually create self-belief that you can do it? Well, you could read books or listen to motivational stories. These are great but they are short-lived because they are external factors trying to influence you to be better.
How do you create intrinsic self-belief that lasts? More importantly, how does having more self-belief propel you to succeeding more in life?
A lasting way to build more self-belief is to win more. You actually need to win more so that you start believing in yourself. So, when you can win small, you are actually building your self-belief.
I have seen that people who are winning don’t need motivation. They are internally motivated by the results they have generated.
So, the question is how do you set yourself up for more success?
Start setting small steps and win consistently. Once you start winning more, you want to take bigger steps. Success will lead to more success but it starts small.
Ask “What do I need to do right now to move one step closer to my goal?”
4. Play from areas of strengths, not weakness
The world does not pay you for what you are weak in but what you are strong in. Likewise, you can only do things well if you are good at them.
Average people try to do everything but those who are really successful always leverage from their strengths. That is why we work in teams, we leverage off each other’s strengths and compensate for our weakness.
The best part: You are happier doing things in what you are good at.
5. Do what you value, not what you can benefit from
If you value what you do, you will always tend to put in more effort and focus than everyone else. I have seen people coming up to me sharing about great ideas of how they can earn money or benefit them.
However, I have noticed that the most successful ones are those who do what they value in life. The value must come before benefits. The one performing his task must value what he does and it must also add value to the others. Once these 2 conditions are met, you will automatically reap the benefits. Business is about the value exchange. If there is no perceived value exchanged, there is no business.
6. Let go of thoughts that hold you back
In a lot of situations, I have noticed that people stop themselves more often than other situations. They have self-limiting beliefs that hold them back. They could have bad experiences that burnt them and prevent them from experiencing new things.
You need to let it go. Let go everything that prevents you from living life and enjoying it to the full.
"Let it go, let it go.
Can’t hold it back anymore."
– Lyrics from Frozen
You deserve more. Start purging all the things that are not enabling you to move forward.
Setting yourself up for success is not difficult but you to start now. You need to constantly focus on what you want and take small steps towards it. If you constantly take massive action in your life and at work, I will guarantee that things will start changing.