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Home » Business Owners

6 Steps to achieving your goals

Each year many people set themselves New Year’s resolutions or goals. Many of these will be broken before the end of the holiday weekend. By the end of the first week they will be quietly forgotten about.

Maybe in the past you decided to quit smoking and live a healthier lifestyle,  or  maybe start a business and quit the rat race, but something happened that threw you off course and you went back to your old habits.  Sure, you felt bad about it for a while, but rationalised it by the fact that if X or Y hadn’t happened then you’d have achieved your goal.   Sound familiar?

If you’re serious about achieving your resolutions or goals this year, then here are 6 steps which will help you on your way, so  this time next year, you’ll be celebrating sucess and looking forward to achieving new goals rather than adding back to the ‘to do list’ the ones that you failed to achieve this year.

1. Be Specific

Most people fail from the word go, by not saying exactly what they want to achieve. Instead they have a vague idea of what they hope to achieve, but that’s about it.

What exactly do you want to achieve and why do you want to do it?   Are you really wanting to stop smoking or do you just feel that you should? Same with loosing weight, do you really want to go on a diet? If you don’t want something badly enough, then you won’t achieve it. So, the more specific you can be, then the more likely that you can describe something that you actually want to do.

2. Write it Down

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do, write it down.Writing something down is your commitment to the goal or resolution.

What exactly are you going to do, by when and how are you going to do it?

Once you’ve written your goal down and how you’re going to do it,  put it somewhere where you will see it on a regular basis – for example on your desk, your screensaver/wallpaper, pin or stick it on your wall, your bathroom mirror or your wallet.

Don’t write it down then put it in a file or a drawer and forget about it.

3. Picture It

Once you’ve decided that you’re really up for achieving the goal and  what you’re going to do, close your eyes and  take some time to think about what the successful achievement of your goal or resolution looks like.   How does it look, where will you be, what will be next to it, on top of it or around it?

Once you have a clear picture in your mind about what success looks like, write this down too.   Regularly read it out aloud to yourself to remind you what you’re trying to achieve and how you know you will have achieved it.

Then brainstorm some ideas about how will you have achieved your goal/resolution – will you need any help to achieve it?

4. Power Team

Once you’ve pictured you’re goal, think about who can help you achieve your it. Maybe it’s someone who has specialised advice, maybe it’s your other half to give you moral support. Maybe it’s a successful person who could mentor you? Maybe  it’s your doctor?

When you’ve got a list of people in your mind who can help you with your goal, contact each of them and tell them about your goal and what you’re going to achieve.  Explain what you’d like from them and ask them if they will help you achieve it.  You’ll be surprised at how many people will say yes, especially if they can see it means a lot to you.

Which is why it’s really important that you are specific about your goal and how you’re going to achieve it.  If you’re excited about your goals, then so will other people.   If you aren’t serious, others will see that and won’t want to waste their time in helping you out.

Once you’ve got your power team together, regularly update them on your progress and explain any problems or barriers you are experiencing – don’t be affraid to ask for help.

5. Planning

Because you’ve created  a detailed picture in your mind about how you’re going to achieve your goals you can start to plan what you will need to do to complete the goal.   As Stephen Covey said in his best selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Start with the End in Mind.

Think about what you’re trying to achieve then figure out what the step prior to achieving success is.  Work backwards until you get to the very first task you need to do to start you on your path to achieving your goal.

Then to achieve your goal it is simply a process of working forward through each of these steps until you achieve success.  The benefit of this approach is because you’re starting with the outcome (your successful achievement of your goal) you’re ensuring that each step takes you forward towards your goal.

So for example, if your goal is to set up a business online by the end of 2011, maybe success is making your first sale, to achieve that you will have had to had a product to sell, to have achieved that, you will have needed to create or find a product , before that you will have had to do research in your chosen market etc…etc. I’m sure you get the idea.

6. Action

Once you’ve got a plan in place, the easiest and yet the most difficult thing to do is take action. But with the first step laid out for you this is so much easier. As the ancient Chinese Philosopher Confucius said:

A Journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

Now, what’s holding you back to achieving success in 2011?

To help you achieve your goals we created a step by step workbook which helps you figure out what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get there, plus a handy goal tracker to measure your progress. You can read more about our workbook – Achieving Your Dreams The Tomato Way here.


  • Lori Gosselin said:

    Hi Matthew,
    Great post! I think it’s all about doing whatever you have to do to get to the place of knowing that what you’ve asked for is on the way. These steps all contribute to that. Once you know and you know that you know that you know, it’s all very simple and becomes fun!
    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Lori, thanks for taking the time to comment here, it’s really appreciated. Most people fail because they don’t know what step to take first, so the more clear you are the better your chance of success.

    As you know, it’s not what you know, but how you apply it! 🙂

    Happy New Year to you,


  • Ben said:

    Point 6 is the real key that most people miss.

    They do all they need to do to get themselves ready and then don’t follow through like that need to.

    Goals without actions are just fluffy dreams.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Absolutely right, and we all know how to make dreams come true, don’t we?!

  • Eduard - People Skills Decoded said:

    Hey Matthew,

    I’m very familiar with point one: be specific. When I ask one of my clients what specifically are their goals they often just tell me vague stuff like: more success, more happiness. That’s a poor starting point because it gives you little direction and no momentum.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Eduard, thanks for commenting here, it’s really appreciated. You’re absolutely right, I find that with clients all the time. In fact, the hardest part is actually getting the client to figure this bit out.

  • Eduard - People Skills Decoded said:

    Now that I think about it, I’m really familiar with the point Ben mentioned as well. This one from my personal experiences rather than coaching. I tend to spend much time in my head and not enough in the real world.

  • Ryan Hanzel said:

    Excellent tips Matthew. This is really the best way to go about achieving any goal especially the part about visualizing where you want to be and then back tracking everything you will need to accomplish before then. That really helps put everything into perspective and manage the time needed effectively. I have all of my goals set up for this year and I am pretty much following similar steps to these in achieving them.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Ryan, thanks for the comment . Sounds like you’re well organised for achieving success this year!

    I absolutely agree with your comment about time managment – spend lots of time on important things and little time on unimportant ones. Too often they get swapped around and people spend time doing things that doesn’t actually matter and doesn’t take them towards their goals.

    Keep up the good work!


  • Tristan said:

    Oooo… I like “Picture it” and “Power team.” I’ve been reading a lot of blogs today and several of them have had posts about meeting your goals, but those two points I haven’t heard. So thank you for that!

    I hope you had a great new year and that 2011 holds great things in store for you. Thanks again for the post; it was was thoroughly enjoyed and retweeted.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks Tristian, appreciate the comment and glad you’ve learnt something new. It’s quite a topical post at this time of the year!

    I hope you had a great New Year too and I’m sure that 2011 will bring you every success.


  • mark said:

    It seems to me that doing real planning and then taking real action are the parts where people fail. That is, they think about what they want to achieve but never really consider what it takes to get it.

    I tend to think of my objectives and then imagine myself trying to make them happen, which helps me to determine what tasks I need to complete in order to achieve my goals.

    A great point you made – Picture it and get excited about it. As you said, if you’re excited about your goals, other people may grab onto your excitement and help you to achieve them.

    Thanks for the encouragement today Matthew.

    Have a good day!

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Actually Mark, I don’t think there’s too much thinking going on, other than a vague idea that, that’s what they are going to do. But you’re absolutely right, planning and action are where people fail.

    Sounds like you’re doing the right things, keep up the good work buddy!


  • Patricia@lavenderuses said:

    Hi Matthew

    I’ve just posted my goals for 2011. And I’ve achieved one already by publishing my first newsletter 🙂

    By writing down my goals back in Dec, I had an idea of where I wanted to take my blog and my business this year. I so agree with you that writing them down really does helps.

    Cos I have now also put them up on my site there will be my blogging buddies who will be asking about my progress 😉

    So there is already a lot of motivation and I’m excited with what 2011 will hold for this amazing blogging community.

    The short time I have been a part of it all, have learnt heaps, met some great people and looking forward to a steep learning curve and meeting more bloggers along the way. Here’s to all our success and accomplished gaols in 2011.

    Patricia Perth Australia

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Patricia, thanks for your comment and congratulations on the achievement of your first goal – great news. I think that a newsletter will be a great addition to your business.

    I look forward to hearing about the rest of your updates over the coming months!

    Keep up the good work, Matthew

  • Karen said:

    Hi Matthew,

    Yup, definitely #6 is where people get hung up. It’s the old analysis paralysis in play. It seems like many people want an absolute guarantee that their change will succeed before they take any action. Unfortunately, that’s not what life is all about. Sometimes you just have to take the action, and have faith that all of your other steps will work in combination for the successful achievement of your goals.


  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Karen, well, whilst analysis can play a part in contributing to the non achievement of your goals, I think the main reason that people fail is that they don’t plan at all. So consequently they have no idea where to start with their goal. Ultimately though, the lack of action is the single biggest cause of failure.

    As you say, people want guarantees, but life doesn’t come with any. You’re absolutely right, without action you’re not going to achieve very much and you definitely need to have faith to succeed.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s really appreciated.


  • Adrian Swinscoe said:

    Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for the post. It’s a great reminder of what it takes to make goals come true. One that I really like, that social media tools really help with, is No.4 Your Power Team. It’s really important to reach out in order to make things happen. Thanks for pointing that out.


  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Adrian, thanks for commenting, it’s really appreicated. Great point that you raise here, social media could be a great way of getting support from your power team (or enlarging your power team for that matter) – you could have your fans/followers hold you to account with your performance. Rather like Tyler Weeks who used his blog to hold him accountable for his weight loss (he has lost over 144 lbs to date).

    Best wishes, Matthew

  • greg urbano said:

    seriously, now if i can just write it down

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Lol. Good luck figuring it out, Matthew

  • Kimi@wordpress video tutorial said:

    Hi Mathew, Great post..reminds me of my new domain name i
    have just bought, because i still do not do anything about them..
    Thanks to you will apply those tips

  • Rick Byrd said:

    Hey Matthew:

    I totally agree with everything you wrote.

    For me it is so important to not only write down my goals but as you mention to hand them in a visible that you will frequently see. Your step 3 is “Picture It”. I also find it helpful to cut and paste a picture of my goal (when it’s feasible like buying a new car) and place it on my written goal sheet. The visual effect is much greater than just written word. I’m sure that is why you have step 3 so people understand the importance of visualizing the end results of their goals.

    Taking action does seem to be the toughest part for the majority of people. People get caught up in all the planning and then they get nervous or worried that the goals are too hard or too easy and really never commit to taking action. That first step is so important. It’s just like a child learning to walk, without that first step they will never be able to run.

    Take care,

    – Rick

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Brandon, thanks again for the comment.

    You raise a very good point, picturing it can also include pasting the picture on a goals sheet or on your wall, which does indeed work well for tangible things. But is very difficult for things like starting a business or creating a product which doesn’t yet exist.

    Great point about teaching a child to walk, we need to do that for every goal. Best wishes, Matthew

  • Patrick Simspon said:

    I have poster boards that I have put my goals on and have hung in my bed room so that I will keep focused on achieving my goals.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    That’s serious art Patrick! Good luck with keeping achieving your goals in 2011!

    Thanks for the comment!