Defining Success – How to Set and Achieve Your Goals

Can you define your success?Before we can become ‘successful’ we must first understand that there is no singular definition for success – that success is individualised depending on the person or persons aiming to achieve it.

This article demonstrates that there are hundreds upon thousands of levels of success, even for a single individual and that creating our own definition of success is in-itself the most important step in realizing these dreams – big or small. In this article we will also go through the steps I use to attain my goals and keep motivated and focussed and how you can utilise the actionable advice provided herein to do the same.

How should we define success?

Our definition of success in the short term should arrive due to the overarching ‘ultimate success’ that we desire. The ultimate success is the end goal, the answer to the question ‘who do you want to be?’ or ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’. The answer to this question is often general, and it should be, but I am going to show you how to visualise and set off on a clear path toward achieving it. I’ll use myself as an example – for me personally, the ‘ultimate success’ is pure happiness and freedom. As we discussed it sounds generic and ambiguous doesn’t it? It is. But this is where we break it down to get to the core of our desires.

How can we break down our goals?

Breaking a goal down usually involves a process of continuously asking yourself ‘What’ is stopping you; the obstacles you must overcome, questioning ‘How’ we can overcome these obstacles; and constantly reminding yourself of ‘Why’ you want to achieve your goals. Every time you ask these questions you are required to add a layer of detail to your ultimate goals. Potentially infinite levels of detail exist according to your goals but usually I will try to limit the number of iterations depending on the time line I am considering. Although the level of detail can vary depending on the time thresholds you set yourself, the process inevitably remains the same

1.       Start with you ultimate goal

  • Write it down.
  • Ask yourself why it is your ultimate goal – write down your answer.
  • Ask yourself what is currently standing between you and the realisation of this goal. Write your answer down.

2.       From the answers you gave in 1(c) generate a list of new S.M.A.R.T macro goals (the ‘how?’) to overcome the limitations you currently face.

  • Write them down.
  • Ask yourself why you want to achieve them – the answer should be the same (or similar to) 1(b).
  • Ask yourself again about the limiters which are holding you back at present. Write your answer down.

3.       Continuously iterate step 2 in order to derive your micro, nano etc goals until you get to a set of goals where there is nothing to stop you from achieving.

Everyone is different – for some of us this process may only call for 2 or 3 iterations – others may need 10 or more cycles before arriving at a goal you can go out an accomplish. If you followed the process outlined above you now have with you a list of incredibly realistic and actionable goals which you can begin to conquer tomorrow – and the best part is, you now understand how they form an integral and necessary partition of your ultimate goal.

Now go back through your pedigree of goals listed and define milestones. Making clear checkpoints is an extremely important process which will allow you to monitor and define your success against yourself. Note that success is not defined by comparing yourself with the achievements of others but by drawing a comparison of your current state and your ultimate goal – or your intended final state (unless your ultimate goal is to be better than others, which I don’t encourage as your ultimate goal). Every time you achieve a milestone, mark it off or do something to recognise the achievement and the success of the occasion. Your milestones can be small and gradual or they can be big and momentous, again varying from person to person.

In summary – define your success by first understanding your concept of ultimate success. So many people work every day of their lives without a true plan for the future or a vision of where they want to be and the result is that people get stuck, wake up 20 years later and wonder why the 1% were getting richer all this time while their wealth remained relatively stagnant. If you’re reading this article then you are at least curious about how you can set clear actionable goals for the future and that is the first step. Heed the advice presented here and start tackling your ultimate goal one micro-goal at a time.

For more information on S.M.A.R.T goals refer to the reference material for our 30 days to conquer challenge at BE|PRIME, at the 30 days to conquer official website or check out the links below!

‘There’s a smart way to write management’s goals and objectives’ – Doran, G.T

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