Still Feeling Stuck? This Is Your Ultimate Guide to Setting and Crushing Goals

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“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.”
– Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919), Business magnate and philanthropist
I used to love Subway.
 
The sandwiches, not the TTC. #nodisrespect
 
My favourite deal was the $5-dollar footlong.
 
As a struggling millennial, what more could you want? A delicious and satisfying meal for less than the cost of a pint of beer? 
 
Hellssss yes.
 
But those days are gone.
 
I no longer have the same affection I once had for these tasty lunchtime staples.
 
I now have a more sophisticated palate, with my tastes elevated to Quiznos and Tim Horton’s. 
 
(Their chicken salad sandwich is on a croissant now – the height of luxury.)
 
More indelibly, I formed an unfortunate association with Subway after graduating university. 
 
I was sitting alone under a staircase in my university library, eating a cold cut footlong, toasted with lettuce and tomato.  
 
#sad
 
Girl eating subway sandwich
 
I was beginning my first foray into the frustrating world of the job search.
 
My friend was doing her Masters so I borrowed her university login. I had no other access to a computer. 
 
#supersad
 
I felt overwhelmed at this insurmountable task in front of me. 
 
I felt lost and lonely.
 
And just downright lame.
 
Why am I telling you this story? 
 
Apart from making you crave processed deli meat, I want to share how I have succeeded (and failed) at achieving the biggest goals in my life so far.
 
That moment under the staircase (#harrypotter) was a turning point for me. I knew I had to start focusing on what I really wanted to get out of life.
 
I knew I had to commit to being a better human to reach my goals. 
 
From moving to Toronto to switching careers, to finding love, I’ve learned multiple strategies and techniques for setting and achieving goals.  
 
Why are goals so important? 
 
Goals narrow our focus and give us purpose.
 
Life is too short to do everything we want, so it is important we tackle what matters most.
 
I’ve organized this post into clarifying what goals to set, and how to make a plan and follow through with it.
 
This post is a beast so if you are pressed for time, just read tips 1-4 first (about a 9- minute read) for now. 

We all have to start somewhere. 
 
Why not now? :) 
 

 
BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT
 
CHOOSE THE “RIGHT” GOALS
 
Frustrated man who doesn't know what he wants 
 
What do we really want to accomplish anyway? 
 
The simple act of deciding what goals to achieve is a task itself. 
 
Still this is a very important and often overlooked step. 
 
If you start setting arbitrary goals and devote all your time and energy to them, you may end up somewhere you never wanted to be in the first place. 
 
Take The Kardashians. They work hard to promote their image-obsessed lifestyle and they succeed.
 
But is that really where you want to be in life? 
 
(You’re all like, yes. Very much so.) 
 
If the answer is no, then you have to be very clear about what you do want out of life. 
 
Pay close attention to WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
 
 
 
 
1. Use that big, beautiful brain.
 
Artistic picture of young man brainstorming
 
I know what you’re thinking.
 
UGH…this is so daunting. I don’t know what to do with my life so why are you making me set goals, you loud little monster.
 
(Nobody has ever called me that, but that’s an accurate insult.)

Spend 15 – 30 minutes this coming Sunday morning to brainstorm where you want to be one year from now.
 
Look forward to reviewing your goals at this time every week. 
 
Brew a large cup of coffee or grab one from your favourite hipster coffee shop.
 
(Hipster is a prerequisite for good coffee.)

Sit by a window or head outside so you can be surrounded by nature. 
 
(Nature is the blanket of the soul. Or the pillow…?)
 
Play your favourite music in the background. Preferably something energizing.
 
(Kenny G anyone?)
 
Think about where you are right now and where you would like to be
 
Start brainstorming ideas with a pen and paper or use Evernote.
 
It doesn’t have to be formal or perfect.  
 
The objective here is to write down everything that comes to mind. 
 
Don’t shut down any ideas you may think are stupid or impossible to achieve. 
 
Do you want to start a website about surviving in the wilderness of Northern Ontario?
 
Great!
 
How about that dream body you’ve always wanted: a combination of J.Lo’s legs, Kayley-Cuoco’s abs, and a slightly more subtle version of Jessica Biel’s arms? 
 
(Oddly specific, Carla.)
 
Awesome!
 
Go ahead and dream.
 
Ignore that annoying voice in your head telling you what other people want you to achieve. 
 
Steve Jobs agrees!
 
He said it more eloquently, but nevertheless, I must be on to something: 
 
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 
Excerpt from Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005
 
You’re more likely to achieve your goals  if you have a genuine desire for them. 
 
I’ve spent a lot of time doing what “made the most sense” or what was “most practical”.
 
I’ve also spent a lot of time letting other people’s opinions dictate my life course. 
 
As Steve said, life is too short for that. 
 
If you’re still drawing blanks, read What Should I Do With My Life? 17 Simple Ways to Find the Answer to get the ball rolling.  
 
Also: consider my blog categories below. Click on the links to get some ideas.
 
Self ImprovementMeaningful Work | Life Purpose | Leadership 
 
ProductivityMotivation | Relationships | Lifestyle
 
Which of the above areas needs the most improvement in your life right now? 
 
Here are some other important goal categories and prompts to help if you’re stuck: 
 
Career – What is your dream job? Do you want the corner office or do you want to start your own company? 
 
Money – How much money do you want to save and/or invest by next year? How much money do you want to be making one year from now?
 
Education – Do you want to go back to grad school? How about finally completing that designation? 
 
Creative – Do you want to finally take that woodworking class? How about finishing that book you’ve been sort-of working on?
 
Travel – Are there certain countries or places you’ve always wanted to visit? What about world events like the Olympics? 
 
Fun – Are you days just filled with tasks and drudgery or do you consciously make time to have fun? What fun things can you do every day, week, and month to make your life more fun? 
 
Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and co-creator of the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books (90’s kids will know what’s up) has a list of lifetime goals if you need even more ideas. 
 
 
 
 
2. Dream big, baby.
 
Two small children walking along the boardrock in Whiterock, British Columbia
 
Did you know that most people fail to achieve their goals because they are not big enough?
 
(Would I lie to you?)
 
In his new book, Smarter Faster Better, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Charles Duhigg highlights: it’s not only the smaller, tactical objectives that are important for achieving goals, but it’s the stretch goals that are critical as well.
 
Stretch goals are highly ambitious goals – you can’t initially describe how they will be achieved.

(Think: running a 3-minute mile)
 
They challenge current assumptions and processes and can inspire innovation among teams and individuals. 
 
They stretch your mind, your abilities, and your potential.
 
Duhigg describes how the multinational conglomerate corporation, General Electric (GE) figured out the importance of stretch goals. 
 
GE is known for introducing the SMART method for goal setting.
 
SMART is a concrete plan for achieving goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
 
(See what they did there?)
 
Every employee at GE was required to submit work objectives using the SMART outline. 
 
The problem was that this method was used on the easiest tasks, and it became more important to cross off items on a to-do list rather than questioning why they were pursuing the goals in the first place
 
Improvements across departments weren’t being made despite SMART outlines being submitted and goals achieved. 
 
The point of the story is this: 
 
Dream big! 
 
Have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG, as Jim Collins and Jerry Porrass, authors of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies call it. 
 
It might seem silly at first to even consider a BHAG, but repeat the goal over and over again in your mind and before long, it won’t seem as crazy.
 
Normalize the discomfort you feel when pursuing big ideas. 
 
Focus on WHY you want these goals as opposed to HOW you’re going to achieve them. 
 
Growing up, I wanted to move to New York to perform on Broadway.
 
(Every Filipino has a dream to be a performer at some point in his or her life. I was no exception.) 
 
I told my friend this dream on a bus ride home from school one day.

We were talking about what to do after high school, and with a straight face, I confidently told him my life goal. 
 
He didn’t laugh but instead nodded with a serious look and said, “I could see that.” 
 
The shock I felt when my confession wasn’t met with ridicule must have been plastered on my face because he quickly followed up with, “You’re really good at connecting with people.”
 
I didn’t end up in New York, but I did succeed in leaving my hometown and living in a city I now love and call home – Toronto. 
 
I’m in Marketing and Advertising (not music or theatre), which is simply another medium to connect with people.
 
Plus, I started this website with the intention of further connecting with others and helping them improve their lives. 
 
Dream big, and even you don’t reach your goal, you will be somewhere close.
 
Remember that cheesy saying littered across wine coasters, coffee mugs, and children’s duvet covers?

“Reach for the moon and even if you fall, you’ll be among the stars.” 
 
Aim high and even if you fail, you will have learned so much and have come so far from where you’ve been.  
 
 
 
 
3. Know the trade-offs.
 
Picture of University of Toronto (U of T) Hart House building
 
Consider what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve this goal.
 
What kind of lifestyle are you willing to give up?
 
Are you willing to give up your free time to achieve this goal? How about a limited social life?
 
Everything comes at a price. 
 
(Except for anything in hotels. Those bathrobes are free, right?)
 
Another important question to ask yourself is: how badly do you want it? 
 
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich said, “The start of all achievement is desire.”
 
This desire will carry you through the inevitable struggles that striving for big goals comes with and will give you the extra push you need to overcome setbacks. 
 
I don’t achieve all of my goals, but I do accomplish the ones I really want
 
Moving to Toronto was a huge goal of mine.
 
In my first year of high school (and probably even earlier), I decided I wanted to attend university out of the province, so I literally googled, “universities in Toronto” and University of Toronto (U of T) was the first of the search results. 
 
(Shocking.)
 
I had been to Toronto a few years earlier and I loved it, so I applied. 
 
It was the only university I applied to and luckily I got in. 
 
(In retrospect, it might have been smarter to apply to more universities in Canada, but this all-or-nothing strategy made me push harder to achieve this goal.)
 
I remember wanting to move so badly, I wouldn’t let anything get in my way.
 
I started planning in my freshman year of high school.
 
#supernerd
 
What did I need to get into U of T? 
 
For one thing, high grades. U of T is a very competitive school, and I wanted to enroll in a very competitive program (B.Comm, Finance). 
 
(Currently, the program accepts around 650 applicants while 6,500 apply each year.)
Luckily, I have never struggled in school.
 
I naturally love learning so that helped, but I also studied very hard.
 
(My brother’s best friend said I carried around my “Mathpower” textbook like it was a bible. Sad, but true.)
 
When I struggled in a particular subject, I asked for one-on-one help from the teacher at lunch or after school.
 
If I wasn’t happy with a grade, I asked if I could take a re-test or if there was an extra-credit assignment I could do.
 
(Yep, I was that kid.)
 
If I wanted to get into U of T, I needed top grades, which meant I needed to put in my top effort.
 
But grades weren’t the only requirement for entrance into the B.Comm program. Extensive high school involvement and extracurriculars were needed as well. 
 
I sang in two school choirs, was President of Music Council, took classical piano lessons, taught piano to inner city students, and volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
 
I only participated in activities I loved or ones that genuinely interested me. 
 
(You’ll notice the heavy weighting in music.)
 
Remember: desire is the driving force for all action.
 
As Canadian neurologist, Donald B. Calne has said, “emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions”.
 
Finally, I needed moolah.
 
The tuition at the time was three times that I would spend if I had gone to university in Alberta. PLUS, I wouldn’t be living in the cozy luxury of my family home. 
 
I saved up big time.
 
I still didn’t have enough skrilla to move right after high school so I spent my first year at The University of Alberta taking my prerequisite courses and working after school and on weekends at The Gap. 
 
Throughout university, I returned to Edmonton every summer and worked at a golf course called The Royal Mayfair. 
 
I remember one afternoon, an ignorant colleague (an older gentleman who will remain unnamed) was shocked to hear that I was a student in university.
 
He assumed that my role as a Golf Shop Merchandiser was simply “all that I did.”
 
(I’m not knocking this profession, but for some reason he immediately stereotyped me.)
 
He asked me where I went to school and I told him. 
 
His arrogance oozed off of his sweat-stained golf shirt when he asked, 
 
“Oh that’s an expensive school – does daddy pay for it?”

Without hesitation, I sassily responded, “Nope. Four summers at the Mayfair did, though!”
 
He turned red and didn’t say anything else.
 
#hatersgon’hate 
 
I did everything in my power to get into a great school outside of my home province and I did it.
 
(U of T currently ranks Top 25 in the world. WHAT!)
 
I would be lying if I said it was effortless – I studied hard, invested in my passions to be a well-rounded student, and most importantly, I was patient and persistent
 
I remember a quote I posted on my feather and sequin framed cork board I looked at while studying:
 
“Tenacity is not giving up in spite of the obstacles.”
 
Seeing this daily helped push me through.
 
 
 
 
4. Pick one thing and run with it.
 
A man running with it
 
You want to start your own online apparel business, but you also want to work as an SEO Strategist at Google. 
 
Oh, and you also want to create a start-up that helps international students find work in Canada.
 
And let’s not forget: you want to be married with two kids (little Jacob and sweet Bianca) all before the age of 30.
 
Slow your roll!
 
These are all amazing goals to have, but one of the biggest mistakes people make with goal-setting is trying to do too many things at once.
 
We become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of goals we want to accomplish.
 
We are paralyzed by indecision and end up not choosing to do anything at all.
 
I get it – FOMO is a real thing.
 
A lot of people are afraid they are limiting themselves by choosing just one thing.
 
But think of it this way: if you choose nothing, you are further away from reaching any of your goals.
 
Psychologist and author of The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains why having more choice doesn’t make us happier. In fact, he argues that it makes us worse off.
 
See his full TED talk here:
 
 
Now that you’re convinced to choose just one thing, run with it!
 
Pour all your energy and free time into pursuing this goal. 
 
But before you do anything, you need to make a plan first. This next section will show you how.

If you’re still like – Carla, you’re such a tyrant – don’t make me choose! – then choose only four to five goals that you can commit to memory.
 
 

 
 
NOW PLAN LIKE YOU MEAN IT
 
PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING
 
Man writing in notebook
 
Psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson, says that “The act of writing is more powerful than people think.” 

Anya Kamenetz at NPR outlined his research involving 700 students completing a short writing exercise over the course of two years. 
 
This “self-authoring” as Peterson calls it, allowed students to develop a growth mindset and had self-fulfilling results. 
 
What does this all mean? 
 
Write down your goals, yo.
 
The following steps will guide you through exactly what to put to paper. 
 
 
 
 
5. Be super clear about what you want.
 
Intense man hitting a pinata for his kids
 
A big reason why people fail to achieve their goals is because of their goals lack clarity. 
 
Be very clear on what you want to achieve. 
 
It’s not enough to say, “I want to be successful.” 
 
Instead, write “In X years, I will own my own successful accounting firm in Toronto with Y number of clients and $Z in revenue.” 
 
By now, the first section in this blog post should have helped you decide what goals to set.
 
If you’re still having trouble figuring it out, ask yourself: do your goals align with your core values and vision?
 
If you’re not sure what these are yet, read What Should I Do With My Life? 17 Simple Ways to Find the Answer to get your juices flowing.
 
The next step will help you develop a more concrete plan. 
 
 
 
 
6. Be SMART.
 
Smart looking man with glasses
 
As mentioned earlier, the SMART goal-setting method has been implemented by companies and individuals alike with great success.
 
(Note that the SMART acronym has been interpreted with slight differences throughout the years, but the idea has remained fairly consistent.)
 
When writing out your goals, answer the questions under each of the following SMART elements: 
 
Specific – What kind of lifestyle do you want? How much money do you want to make?
 
How many hours per week are you willing to devote to the pursuit of this goal?
 
Does this fit in with your current schedule and responsibilities? If not, what adjustments will you need to make? 
 
The more specific you are, the better. 
 
Imagine yourself ten years from now and you have just achieved your biggest goal. Where are you?
 
What are you wearing? Who are you with?
 
I’m imagining myself ten years from now. I’m at the airport – I’m taking my entire family on a trip to their homeland (The Philippines). I’m wearing a subtly provocative coral sun dress that accentuates my collar bone.
 
(Ok, you don’t need to be that specific, but you get the idea.)
 
Most importantly: how do you feel?
 
Try to be as detailed as possible in describing the environment and your emotions after you’ve achieved your goal. 
 
This is important as these strong emotions will help push you through the day-to-day obstacles and setbacks you will encounter on the way to achieve your goal. 
 

Measurable – Author and father of modern management, Peter Drucker, said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

How many inches or pounds do you want to lose? What is your goal dress size?
 
Let’s say you want to start a blog. How many visitors do you want per month? How many email subscribers?
 
Actionable – Start each goal with an action verb rather than to-be verbs: “am”, “have”, “be”
 
For example: 
 
I will write content for my blog every day for one hour. 
 
Instead of:
 
I will be a more consistent writer. 
 
Realistic – There are some goals you just won’t be able to achieve.
 
I know that sounds like I’m killing your mojo, but did you really think Matt Damon would divorce his wife and marry you instead? 
 
(Someday he’ll find me.)
 
Make sure you’re realistic with what you’re trying to achieve. 
 
Is your goal within your realm of skills and abilities? If not, do you have a plan to gain the required skills?
 
Timely What is your timeline for achieving this goal? 

Set milestones and specific goal completion dates to ensure you stay on track.
 
Make sure every goal has a deadline. 
 
E.g. I will lose 15 lbs. by December 31.
 
(I’ve always been a bit husky.)
 
As you probably know by now, I love visuals.
 
I created a roadmap to have a visual of where I am and where I want to be.
 
With this, I can keep track of my goals on a daily basis.
 
The top half of the focuses on the strategies and tactics I will use to achieve my goals. The bottom half focuses on the specific metrics I want to achieve.  
 
I also wrote down all the major milestones to keep me motivated to keep going.
 
It’s nice to see everything in one place.
 
There’s a lot of project management software out there if you want to get fancy. Try MS Project or MS Visio for PC or Merlin or Omniplan if you’re on a MAC.
 
But for now, it’s fine to just sketch it out with sharpie and paper. 
 
#nojudgment
 
Are you overwhelmed yet? 
 
No worries – this next step will show you how to take small steps towards your goals.
 
 
 
 
7. Start small.
 
My close friend Renee and me at the Sporting Life 10K Run 2015, Toronto, Canada
 
Whenever possible, I like to simplify. 
 
Choose one of your top goals and break it down into much smaller steps.
 
Make sure you are confident these steps are things you can do today.
 
Sign up for that course you need to take, read the first 30 pages of that important book, or reach out to that old colleague to have that coffee. 
 
Roughly sketch out a plan for the upcoming week.
 
What can you do for one hour every day next week to bring you closer to your goal?  
 
When you’re feeling ambitious, sketch out your plan for the next six months.
 
Then for the next year.
 
Then for the next two years, five years, etc.
 
My biggest goal last year was to run my first half marathon. 
 
As an inexperienced runner, my first goal was to just get outside. 
 
I started small by simply walking. I was bored fairly quickly, so I started jogging at a very comfortable pace until I couldn’t go any further. 
 
I think I lasted one or two minutes at most.
 
Then every other day, I would push myself to run a little bit further. 
 
At the beginning of the year, I ran a 5K.
 
By May, I ran my first 10K.
 
Then another 10K in September. 
 
Before I knew it, I was running 13K, 16K, and eventually 22K. 
 
And in October 2015, I ran my first half marathon! 
 
Starting small and applying daily consistent effort will get you to the finish line.
 
(I know, I’m groaning too.)
 
When I trained, I was continuously kind to myself and didn’t beat myself up over skipping a day or coming short of my target distance or speed.  
 
I also ran the same route to eliminate any decision-making so I could focus my mental energy on pushing myself.  
 
I quickly discovered that when you reach a certain distance, running becomes a mind game.
 
I’ll admit it though – the biggest motivator was the droves of cars that passed by as I ran. I would often suck in my stomach and straigthen my posture as I sprinted across intersections so I looked like a regal gazelle.
 
I imagined the driver at the stop light turning to her husband: Oh honey, look at that swan-like creature run…she is the epitome of grace and athleticism…
 
(Nobody was looking at me.)
 
 
 
 
8. Write down everything you need.
 
Woman writing down lists in her notebook
 
What do you need to accomplish your goal? Write everything down.
 
(A shovel…black gloves…a new identity…)
 
What new skills do you need to learn?
 
(Learn 3 different languages. And how to infiltrate complex security systems.)
 
Who do you need to talk to?
 
(Retired spies.)
 
Are there any important dates you need to be aware of? Application deadlines? 
 
How much money (if any) will you need?
 
How much time will you need? Again, be as specific as possible: how many hours do you have to devote each week to achieving this goal?
 
Dump all your thoughts and tasks into an online tool like Trello
 
Screenshot of my Trello board for carlakavinta.com
 
Whenever I start a new project or pursue a new goal, I head to Trello and start making lists of everything I will need. 
 
You can easily drag and drop cards (the white boxes) between the lists. 
 
When an idea pops into my head, I just pop it into Trello in a list I titled, “Laundry List”. I go through this list every other day and move out anything urgent.
 
I also colour-coordinate the tasks: for example, anything red is Important, and anything green involves content.
 
I’ve been using Trello for four years now. I think it has stuck with me for so long because of its sheer simplicity. 
 
There’s also Evernote and a lot of other online organization tools – experiment and use the one that works best for your needs.
 
So you’ve set your goals, you’ve written out your SMART plan and everything you need to achieve them.
 
Everything would be perfect, except we’re human. 
 
No matter how much we plan, things will still go wrong. 
 
So what do we do? 
 
Read on, my friend. Read on.
 
 
 
 
9. Make it impossible to fail.
 
Me in a giant mud pit at the Mud Run in 2015, Toronto, Canada
 
Roughly sketch out your minimum requirement for success.
 
By this, I mean: what is the lowest criteria for you to consider your goal as completed? 
 
If you’re trying to lose weight, do you really need to lose 25 lbs or will 20 do? 
 
(20 lbs will do. I’ll have that extra mimosa #kthxbye.)
 
Some research suggests that setting goals in a range rather than in absolute numbers makes them more achievable.
 
Havard Business Review explains the details of the study here
 
Next, think of everything that could go wrong
 
I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, but it’s important to have contingency plans in place. 
 
Chris Hadfield, Commander, CSA & NASA Colonel, and the first Canadian to walk in space, was always prepared. He emphasized the importance of being ready: 
“To me, it’s simple: if you’ve got the time, use it to get ready. What else could you possibly have to do that’s more important? Yes, maybe you’ll learn how to do a few things you’ll never wind up actually needing to do, but that’s a much better problem to have than needing to do something and having no clue where to start.”
Excerpt from Chris Hadfield’s memoir, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, 2013
What big obstacles do you foresee and how will you overcome them? 
 
Go deep. 
 
Maybe you need to overcome a limiting belief or your own hang-ups before being able to move forward. 
 
(Don’t listen to them. You look great in those pleather leggings!)
 
Maybe you need to have a talk with your family about how this goal will affect the amount of time you spend with them. 
 
(No bae, I can’t binge watch episodes of Seinfeld with you anymore.)
 
What daily roadblocks can you foresee? 
 
Make a list of your daily distractions and how you will overcome them. 
 
Read my post, How to Get Shit Done: 16 Productivity Tips and Tools if you need tips on how to stay productive and on task. 
 
Finally, make IF/THEN statements. 
 
These are statements of what you will do if something goes wrong. 
 
For example: IF I have to work overtime and don’t have time to create a blog post in the evening, THEN I will just use one of my emergency posts I have created weeks in advance.
 
In her Psychology Today blog, The Science of Success, social psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson outlines a study by Peter Gollwitzer from NYU with the finding that your goals are two to three times more likely to succeed when you have if-then plans than when you don’t.
 

This is your backup plan when shit gets real. 

(And it will.)
 
Here’s a picture of my IF/THEN statements I made when I started this blog: 
 
Picture of my if-then statements
 
Go through your list of IF/THEN statements as a users manual for what to do when you’re struggling.
 

 
 
MAKE SURE SHIT GETS DONE
 
FOCUS ON THE FOLLOW THROUGH 
 
Man focusing on the follow through with basketball
 
I remember playing basketball growing up – my dad would always yell, “Follow through! Follow through! Follow through!” 
 
I always wanted to yell back, “Shut up, Dad!” shortly followed by, “Just kidding. I love you.”
 
Instead, I just kept quiet and followed his advice.
 
I’ve always tried to focus on the follow through. 
 
It’s so easy to plan and start things, but when it comes to following through with them and finishing them until the end, we often give up too early.  
 
These next steps will help ensure you take massive action after all your hard work setting and planning your goals.
 
 
 
 
10. Put your goals in your face. Daily.
 
This is a tip I have brought up several times in my posts.
 
And I’ll repeat it again!
 
If something is out of sight, it will definitely be out of mind.
 
Keep reminding yourself of your goals.
 
I have my 3 goals for the year written in large gold marker on a piece of paper on my fridge:
 
A picture of my fridge at home with goals posted.
 
Every morning I see these goals and I have a clear direction of the bigger picture and what I want to achieve.
 
I also have a vision board I have on my desk that I see on a daily basis: 
 
Picture of my vision board
 
These visuals remind me of what I’m trying to accomplish with all these smaller tasks.
 
 
 
 
11. Treat your goals as appointments.
 
Picture of a woman writing down her appointments in her weekly planner
 
In my post, How to Get Shit Done: 16 Productivity Tips and Tools, I shared what a maniac I am with my Google calendar.
 
If you’re a scheduler like me, if it’s not in my calendar, it is far less likely to get done.
 
Make sure to create calendar events for any tasks that bring you closer to your goals. 
 
Block off an hour of time in your calendar to work on your goals. Make it a daily recurring event. 
 
Even if you’re not quite sure yet what you need to get done in that chunk of time, block it off anyway and you can add more specific tasks later. 
 
For example, when I first started my blog, I didn’t know which tasks took priority over others, so I just blocked off an hour of time every day to figure it out.

I called it “Figure out carlakavinta.com”. 
 
(I know – my creativity astounds me, too.)
 
 
 
 
12. Share your goals (but not with everyone). 
 
Large group picture of Ariad party, July 2015, Steamwhistle Brewery, Toronto, Canada
 
Share your goals, but be wary of sharing them with too many people. 
 
Smart people who know things suggest that the simple act of telling people your goals has the same positive effect on the brain that completing a goal has. 
 
This means that you get the same reward and stimulation from sharing the goal without even having to achieve it. 
 
This is bad news bears because if you already feel fulfilled, you will be less motivated to actually do anything to achieve the goal!
 
Watch Derek Sivers‘ TED talk below as he discusses why years of research supports why you should keep your goals to yourself: 
 
 
But don’t go it alone entirely. 
 
It’s good to share your goals with those who will help you achieve them. This gives you accountability.
 
Surround yourself with like-minded people who have the same goals and desires as you. 
 
Join a group in-person or online. If it doesn’t exist, why not start one yourself!
 
#carpealldiemlong
 
Most importantly, start thinking about the people you hang around with most frequently.
 
Entrepreneur Jim Rohn said, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
 
Are these people adding value to your life or are they draining you? 
 
Suzie constantly gossips and is never short of negative things to say when she sees you. She talks about other people and is always criticizing your lifestyle.
 
#byesuzie
 
I know it’s not realistic to cut out all negative relationships from your life, but at the bare minimum, know WHY you are letting this person stick around in your life.
 
If you don’t have a reason, then it may be best to part ways. 
 
Life is short and it should be spent with the people who will boost you up, not bring you down. 
 
 
 
 
13. Review, get feedback, and improve accordingly.
 
Casual meeting at a startup company - getting feedback
 
It’s important to continuously review your goals and adjust them as you go along. 
 
Review what worked and what didn’t and do things differently and better next time. 
 
I get it. Life happens.
 
You don’t get the promotion (there will be others!), you have an unplanned pregnancy (congrats?) or maybe your dreams and goals change altogether (totally cool!).
 
But if there is something you really really want, continuous reviewing, planning and improving will keep you on track.
 
Now do you see why it’s important to dream big? 
 
All this planning and shit is a lot of work! 
 
If your goals aren’t big enough and you only want them kind-of-sort-of, how likely do you think you’ll be able to stick with them in the long-haul? 
 
(The answer is: not likely.)
 
Every morning and night I read a statement I made with my biggest life goal. 
 
(Sorry, as per number 11 above, I’m not sharing with you!)
 
Every few weeks or so, I review all my goals and see if they are on track or if anything has changed.
 
It is also very important to ask for and obtain feedback regularly.
 
A digital marketing agency I used to work for used a technique called Start, Stop, Continue for obtaining feedback fast and often.
 
Variations of this technique are commonly used in the world of agile website and software development.
 
Here’s how it works:
 
Every morning, we had a 5-minute team meeting. Each team member would have a turn to say what activities we should start, stop, and continue doing.
 
The activities ranged anywhere from the details of the technical development to the project process to when and where the meetings are held.
 
This technique is effective for a number of reasons but mostly because it’s quick and action-focused.
 
Try this technique with your goals:
 
Set a 15-min reminder in your calendar for every day this week called “Start, Stop, Continue.”
 
Ask yourself these questions and see if you can uncover any areas of improvement relating to achieving your goals.
 
At work, I’ve always been proactive in getting feedback frequently. I don’t wait for the yearly performance review – I continuously ask what I’m doing right and what needs improvement.
 
I also ask for feedback after interviews if the employer went with another candidate.
 
For one thing, this takes out self-doubt you feel when you didn’t get the job – I’m not good enough…I’m not likable enough…etc. 
 
I once emailed an employer I interviewed with about why I didn’t get the job and she said they went with an internal employee. She said that I was a very strong candidate but they have a mandate to hire internally.
 
I know they probably give this reason a lot but she also provided very specific feedback about the experience they were looking for.
 
You’ll never know until you ask.
 
Nobody is going to tell you if you’re failing.
 
 
 
 
14. Visualize success.
 
Me staring out into the distance, visualizing success
 
Several personal development experts and masters of achievement have used visualization techniques to achieve their goals.
 
Napoleon Hill, personal success author, outlines his “Invisible Counselors Method” in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich.
 
He visualizes a room with his mentors sitting at a table. These were the people Napoleon looked up to and admired – alive or dead. For example, he has visualized speaking with Socrates, Thomas Edison, and William James.
 
Napoleon then asked his counselors questions about a decision he was making or a problem that needed solving and would predict their responses based on their strengths.
 
These imaginary counseling sessions motivated him to achieve his goals.
 
Think of your own Invisible Counselors meeting. Who is sitting at the table?
 
I picture Oprah and Tina Fey at mine. And my mom. To remind me to always be firm but kind. And that I’m ugly when I frown.
 
Napoleon admitted that initially, he was a bit embarassed to admit that he used this technique – people would think he was crazy with his imaginary counsel!
 
But visualization is a popular goal achievement strategy used across different fields and lines of work.
 
In particular, athletes rely on visualization as an imperative in training and practice.
 
Olympic beast, Michael Phelps stayed ahead of the competition by using visualization techniques.

His coach, Bob Bowman, claimed Phelps is the best he’s seen in terms of using visualization to prepare for races.
 
In a 2012 interview with the Washington Post, Bowman said Phelps would visualize the perfect race from both the stands and in the water. He would then visualize what would happen if things didn’t go well – if his suit ripped or his goggles broke, etc.
 
Another consequence of using visualization is having the confidence of knowing you have something planned in case things do go wrong. 
 
As The Washington Post states, Phelps’ “mental self-reliance may be his greatest strength.”
 
Visualize achieving your goals in an emotional way, twice a day. 
 
Think about the ONE goal you want above all others. 
 
Every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed, visualize yourself right after you’ve achieved this goal. 
 
Try to be as detailed as you can as you visualize.
 
Maybe you’re at the bank and you are informed that your balance has finally hit $1,000,000.
 
Where are you? What day is it? What are you wearing? Is your family with you or are you alone? 
 
Most importantly, pay attention to how you feel after you’ve reached your goal.
 
Remember that we are driven by emotion far more than reason. 
 
Internalizing the emotions of delight, accomplishment, satisfaction, happiness (and more!) will push you to keep pressing until you reach the end.
 
 
 
 
15. Reward yourself and celebrate! 
 
Me on my 18th birthday rewarding myself with a table of food
 
Celebrate even small successes. 
 
This will motivate you to keep moving forward.
 
Reward yourself after each goal and milestone.  
 
The reward doesn’t have to be big – just something to acknowledge the hard you work you did to get this far.
 
For example, a new book you’ve been eyeing or a dinner out with your S.O will do.
 
It is also important to remember how it felt when you achieved these goals.
 
Recalling positive emotions you experienced after completing your goals will carry you through your hardships.
 
And of course, the biggest reward of setting goals isn’t achieving them per se.
 
It’s what you learn in the process and who you become along the way that matters most.
 
 
 
 
BONUS: RAISE THE STAKES.
 
Picture of poker chips and cards - raising the stakes
 
There is nothing we as humans hate more than losing money.
 
So why not lay some money down for that extra push to achieve your goals? 
 
My friend from Prague (Shout out to Oskar!) introduced me to this site: gofuckingdoit.com.
 
Pick a friend and sign up on the website. Enter your goal, a time frame, a dollar amount, and your credit card information.
 
At the end of the chosen timeframe, you will both receive an email asking if your friend achieved his/her goal. If not, the other person receives the dollar amount stipulated when you signed up.
 
I would recommend raising the stakes to an amount you’re a bit uncomfortable with (over $100 to a max of maybe $500). This will really up the ante and push you to achieve your goal.
 
Another way to raise the stakes is through the anti-charity strategy
 
Write a cheque to an organization you HATE (examples: NRA Foundation, George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Donald Trump campaign, etc.).

Place it in a sealed envelope with the address and postage stamp on it. 
 
If you don’t achieve your goal by your stipulated deadline, you must mail the cheque.
 
This is highly motivating because people hate contributing to and advancing organizations they despise (duh).
 
Tell someone close to you that you are doing this in case you wimp out later and don’t mail the cheque.
 
 

 

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Congratulations on setting your goals and putting together a plan in place to achieve them!

Now the real challenge lies in having the courage and discipline to stick with them until the end.

Read How to Get Shit Done: 16 Productivity Tips and Tools and How to Stay Motivated When You Can’t Even to stay on track.
 
What goal-setting techniques have worked for you?
 
Share your experiences in the comments section below! :)
 

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