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8 Ways Highly Successful People Set And Achieve Goals


About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C. area, that works with clients virtually across the country. Lamar's work with his clients focuses on budgeting, employee benefits, paying down debt, buying their first home, and investing. Lamar is the Founder of Dream Financial Planning, a virtual financial planning firm specifically designed to help young professionals and minorities take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn how we use the The DREAM Financial Planning Process ™  to help our clients achieve their goals. 


When you see successful people who have done well for themselves and achieved a great deal, you may wonder just exactly how they did it. Here are eight tips we can glean from some of the world's most successful people. 

1. Visualize Your Ideal Future

Setting goals can be abstract, and as humans, the more something is abstract, the harder it is for us to focus on it. Instead of writing down goals like "retire at 50", try and visualize exactly what you want your future to hold, and plan it out in as much detail as possible. So "retire at 50" might be "Build a successful engineering firm. Retire at 50, but still, sit on the board. Pay off your home in New York and have a second vacation home in Florida. Be able to fund all children's college accounts in full", etc.

Once you can visualize the specifics of your ideal future, that's when you will gain the clarity you need. The goal-setting process becomes the framework for creating the kind of bigger future you are looking to achieve. 

2. Work Backwards From Your Goal 

If you don't know what you want, then how will you achieve it? Once you lay out exactly what you want to achieve, then work backward to get there. Try setting quarterly goals or 90-day goals and evaluate them accordingly, while continually reviewing them as you move forward. Outlining goals will make them seem much more realistic. It's a good idea to have a mix of goals such as financial, strategic, relationship, and personal goals.

3. Hold Yourself Accountable

Staying accountable to yourself is incredibly important but incredibly difficult. Working with a business coach, a life coach, or even just sharing your goals with others can provide a real incentive to continue on your path and work hard to achieve the outcome you desire. Additionally, consider surrounding yourself with others who will lift you up and share with them what you hope to do. This will help you push yourself and come up with new ideas since you'll be surrounded by people that you respect. 

4. Set Clear Deadlines 

Make sure that you set precise measurements with realistic deadlines when setting your goals. When the goal is realistic, you will feel more emotionally and adequately invested in the outcome. It should feel challenging yet also achievable. 

5. Write Down Your Goals

Studies show that we become 42 percent more likely to achieve our goals and dreams, simply by writing them down regularly.1 There is more of a personal commitment when you put pen to paper and physically write your goals down. When a goal is embedded in your mind, subconsciously, you are looking at every opportunity to achieve that goal. Also, if something is written down, then you can look back for motivation when you need it. As mentioned previously, holding yourself accountable is so important, and writing something down is another way to do that. 

6. Break Your Goals Down 

Every successful person knows that you must break your goals down into action items. Setting a big goal helps you to picture the end result, but small goals are easier to work toward. Think of your goals as a "pyramid" - your primary, over-arching goal is at the top, but in order to reach it, there are a series of smaller goals you must first work to achieve. 

Breaking your goals down into smaller, actionable items not only feels more "doable" from a psychological standpoint, but there is something to be said about checking those smaller goals off your list - you'll feel empowered every time you hit another milestone, and your success will propel you to keep going.  

7. Own Your Future

As the saying goes, "A dream without a plan is just a wish." If you're not in charge of where you spend your time and energy, it's easy to become distracted. Keep in mind that you are personally responsible for your future, and only you can change and work towards a better outcome. It's essential to work in the present but still have a strong plan for the future. 

8. Use Your Goals in Every Aspect of Your Life

Goal setting is obviously pertinent to your business; however, you must set goals in every aspect of your life, not just in your business. What is the motivation or desire for why you set your goals? Think about: 

  • Why are These Goals Important?
  • How Will you Achieve Them?
  • How Will They Make a Difference?

Once you know the answer to these questions, it will really help you to strive for a stronger future and understand what you need to change to achieve your dreams. 

When we get busy with work and everyday life, we often put our big dreams and goals on the back burner. Many times that free time doesn't usually come, so it's important to find the time to work towards and achieve your dreams. These eight steps can help you to visualize and work towards achieving what you really want, as they have helped highly successful people for many years. 

Dream Financial Planning Process ™

Whether you're managing student loan debt, starting a business, or considering buying your first home, the DREAM Financial Planning Process™ is tailored to the unique needs of busy professionals is their 30s an 40s. This process focuses more on short-term goals while you grow and evolve in your personal and professional life. If you're looking for guidance on: Financial Planning, optimizing employee benefits, budgeting, student loans, and managing your 401k or investments we can help. 

Complimentary Consultation

With uncertainty surrounding the economic stability of our country, it's okay to have fears and anxieties surrounding your own savings and investments. The most productive course of action from here is to reach out to Dream Financial Planning (or whoever your trusted advisor might be) and discuss your options. It's easy to have knee-jerk reactions when it feels like the bottom is falling out, but it is imperative to make decisions using research-backed data and a level head. If you'd like a Complimentary Review and risk assessment of your investment portfolio feel free to send me an e-mail.

Monthly Newsletter

On the first Thursday of every month I send out a monthly newsletter with tips and tricks to help you manage your Finances. In the April Newsletter I discuss the recent economic stimulus package and what it means for you. I also include two downloadable PDFs with quick tips to help you navigate these trying times.

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  1. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-power-of-writing-down_b_12002348

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