How To Achieve More Goals

The problem with goals is not achieving them.

What if you could change that? What if you could achieve more of the goals you set, and at the same time expand your ability to achieve tougher ones in the future?

Your goals road sign

Here's the secret: set goals at every level.

The problem with the way most of us set goals is reset too darn few of them, and they're all too big.

If the only goals you have our three enormous ones (“lose 75 pounds”, “make $1 million dollars”, “win the PowerBall”), we are working against ourselves in more than one way.

First of all, there's a high degree of likelihood we will miss the mark on all of these goals because they are unrealistic. Please don't argue with me about “realistic goals”. That debate is for another blog post.

Secondly, if we are counting on our gigantic goals for our fulfillment, we open ourselves up to a habit of disappointment. That is dangerous psychological territory.

The better approach is having goals at every level.

Small goals, goals that you are certain to achieve even if you don't try very hard.

Medium-size goals, goals that will require you to work and perhaps even be a bit of a stretch, but you have confidence that there within your grasp.

Outrageous goals. These are goals that you might even feel are beyond your reach, but there is the faintest possibility that you could achieve them.

And finally, “impossible” goals. Goals that simply won't be achieved without some sort of divine intervention.

Here's what's interesting: setting those smaller goals, and celebrating your victories at the small and medium-size goal levels, somehow seems to increase the likelihood of achieving the outrageous goals.

Is it because our level of belief is stirred up by celebrating victories we didn't previously notice? Is it because of some kind of increased focus we wouldn't have if we weren't setting the smaller goals to begin with? I don't know.

What I do know is setting goals at every level increases the number of victories available to celebrate in your life. That alone is a good thing.

But I also know that occasionally, seemingly as if by magic, those “impossible” goals somehow seem to achieve themselves.

I don't have any scientific data to back up this theory of goalsetting.

But I strongly suggest you give my method a try, and I predict your experience will be the same as mine. What if I'm right?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • This was truly helpful – it’s almost March and I needed help with my goals.

    • Glad we could provide a bit of encouragement for you.

  • Whats interesting about goal setting is that most of the time we’re fighting our physiology. The amygdala is located in our midbrain and controls our fight-or-flight response. When we try to engage a huge goal that is way outside our comfort zone, the amygdala sets off an alarm and restricts access to the brain’s cortex slowing down or stopping rational and creative thinking. Small goals don’t set off the alarm, they enlarge your comfort zone, and allow greater and greater success one small step at a time. “People will not be ashamed of the small beginnings” Zechariah 4:10 (ERV)

  • I’m rewriting my goals to include minimum, target, and outrageous metrics, instead just one metric for each. What a different way to view/set our goals!

  • Dan

    If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

    Gtdagenda. com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  • I like your approach to goal setting and breaking them into different chunks. I think it’s important to get those goals out of your head and into writing. For me, having them visually available for review is crucial to having them come to fruition. I also find that I need schedule review time on my calendar so that I can see where I am on the path to goal achievement.

  • William McPeck

    This is sorta like the idea of taking your goal and breaking down into smaller sub goals or actionnable steps so actions become more manageable and doable. The one caution I would state is that having too many goals is just as bad as not having any.

  • Good advice, especially for those who are afraid to set goals of any kind. Those who are too afraid of failure set no goals, and thus never achieve. They never fail, but spend a miserable life just treading water.

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