Three simple secrets to achieving your goals

Are you guilty of setting goals you don’t achieve? If so, you’re not alone. To help, we reveal three simple secrets to sticking to goals, and give you tips on how you can use them.

Want to know the reason why successful people achieve their goals and you don’t? It’s because of one tiny word – risk. Time and time again, studies show that the more we have at stake in achieving something, the more likely we are to achieve it.

And it makes sense. Often getting something we really want, especially if it’s achieving a big goal, takes a lot of work and effort. And there may well be times when you feel like giving up – the going has got tough and you don’t have faith it will ever work. In these moments, if you don’t really need to achieve your goal then you’re more likely to take the easy option and settle for less.

But if you have gambled everything on getting there, you’re much more likely to stick to your goal and keep working. And therefore much more likely to succeed.

So how can you ensure you have enough staked on your goal?

Three simple secrets to achieving your goals

There are three simple ways you can ensure that you’re risking enough on your goals to make a success of them.

1) Don’t have a back-up plan

While it’s logical to assume having a plan B is a good thing – especially if you’re taking a risk and aiming for something big – it could be your undoing.

Research shows that rather than simply providing a wise safety net, they actually hamper people in achieving their goal. Why? The theory is that they make failure seem more acceptable. After all, you’ve already considered the possibility by having a back-up plan in the first place!

It could also be that you have less to lose by not achieving your goal, taking away some of the motivation and incentive to win at all cost. After all, if you don’t have a safety net, you can’t afford not to succeed – potentially pushing you on further when the going gets tough.

So if you really want to make a big change on your life, don’t give yourself an easy way out. Don’t consider a plan B – tell yourself you absolutely have to succeed.

This article even goes as far as to say that exposing ourselves to the risk of failure is the only way to succeed:

“…the character strengths that enabled him to achieve the success that he has were not built in his years at Harvard or at the boarding schools he attended; they came out of those years of trial and error, of taking chances and living without a safety net.”

So how can you practically implement this? Simple, don’t have a plan B! If you want to start a business, make sure that you absolutely HAVE to make it work. If you can, quit your job. Give yourself a set number of months to make it work and just do it.

Likewise, if you really want to change job or career or go freelance, just resign from your current job! You’ll then HAVE to go out and make new opportunities happen. (This is exactly what I did as a single mum – read how I did it here.)

2) Put your money on it

Another study by the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 study found that people were more successful in losing weight when they had a financial incentive. In fact, in a 16-week weight loss plan, the people who had promised to pay if they didn’t meet their goal lost 14lbs more than people who hadn’t.

So what does that mean for you? If you’re financially invested in your goal, as well as emotionally, you’re more likely to achieve it.

It’s something that I’ve noticed too. Years ago when I trained as a hypnotherapist I helped people to give up smoking. As a student we didn’t charge our clients, but once we qualified we were allowed to. And a funny thing happened when we did – the average success rate for helping people stop smoking went up by 75%.

But why was that? It wasn’t because we had a formal certificate, or that we were more experienced, it was much more simple. It was because people were paying for their treatment. And because they were paying, they were more invested in its success.

So how can you apply this to your own goals? One way is to invest your own money into an enterprise, such as a business. Even small decisions like investing in the services of a professional designer for your logo can help you to be more committed to its success.

You can also invest in your own professional development – paying to attend courses or for personal or business coaching are all wise decisions. Here’s why:

  • They give you access to tools and expert knowledge.
  • They give you the support, motivation and accountability you need.
  • They require a financial investment that you will then need to justify in results.

Sometimes just the act of committing to a business course can be enough to give you a push forward.

Find out how our one-year programme Kickstart will guide you through your first 12 months.

3) Tell people

Something that’s been general accepted for a long time is the power of accountability: when we tell people we’re going to do something, we’re much more likely to achieve it.

No one likes to be wrong, or be seen as a failure, so if we say we’re going to achieve something, we don’t want to have to admit later on we didn’t do it. We’re also taking personal responsibility for the success or otherwise of our goal. We have stated we’ll do it, and so the achievement of it will be down to us.

The Harvard Business Review recommends that, once we have decided on a goal, we should write it down and share it with others – our friends, family, colleagues, manager… anyone.

Again, how can you use this to ensure you stick to your goals? You could state to friends and family what you will achieve, and by when. You may write it somewhere prominent you can see every day to remind you. Or you could share your goal with a professional group – either a real life group or an online community.

Every Monday in our private Facebook group, we invite our members to share their goal for the week – and we add ours too. Not only does writing it down publicly make us more accountable (in a friendly way – there’s no pressure to reveal whether or not you’ve achieved your goal!) but just the act of thinking about what we want to get done that week helps us to identify a good goal to achieve.

Start setting and sticking to your goals

We hope this article has been helpful to you, and given you lots of ideas to help you make goals you can stick to. If you do need more help, you’ll find plenty of resources, tools and accountability in our membership club Activate. You can also read more great advice on goal-setting (and achieving!) in these articles: