4 Steps to Goal Success

By Natalie Rivera

Knowing what your goals are can be more challenging than you may think. Perhaps this is why so many people don’t set them. You may have heard that most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions, but did you know that most people don’t even MAKE ONE. Even during peak goal-setting season, less than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. So, imagine how few people make goals the rest of the year—not many!

In the University of Scranton study (http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/) that revealed these figures, another extremely important finding was discovered:

People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.

Without goals, your life will unfold by default. That default mode will be to continue to experience the same old patterns and to allow the outside world—your family, friends, and society—to influence your life path. By not setting goals, you give away your power.

If you want to be happy and successful, you absolutely must set goals and work toward achieving them.

As a coach, speaker, teacher, and avid student of personal development, I have found there are four vital steps that all successful people take when setting meaningful goals and following through to accomplish them. These are:

  1. DESIRE: Deciding what you want.
  2. FAITH: Knowing you can achieve it.
  3. PLANNING: Making a plan for achievement.
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY: Staying motivated.

1) DESIRE: Decide What You Want

When you ask most people what their goals are or what they want out of life, they often cannot answer. And when they do, the goals they state are often what others have influenced them to want. One key to successful goals is to determine what YOU really want out of life.

Get Other People Out of Your Head: Ask yourself, who do you allow to direct your life? Do you do what your parents or friends think you should do? Do you desire things because you saw them on TV? Do you limit yourself to what others will approve of? When’s the last time you asked yourself what YOU really want? If you are going to have any chance of accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, they absolutely MUST be YOURS. If you don’t even really want it, how do you expect to follow through when times get tough or the motivation’s not there?

How Does It FEEL? The most important thing to determine about your goal is how it makes you feel. Do you feel empowered by it or experience resistance? Does it feel exciting or burdensome?

The reason this question matters so much is because if you really think about it, EVERYTHING that you have or will ever want in your life…everything…is because of the way you believe it will make you feel. Really! Any goal or desire you have, don’t you want it because you believe you’ll feel better in having it? It will bring fulfillment, satisfaction, relief, pride, fun, a sense of accomplishment, freedom, or joy, etc.

So, what is it for you? How do you want to FEEL? Sometimes considering this question helps you clarify that perhaps your goal isn’t what you thought. Or maybe it doesn’t have to be the specific thing you thought you needed. Perhaps there is more than one way to get what you want, which is to feel a certain way.

2) FAITH: Know You CAN Achieve It

Many people hold themselves back from the goals they really want because they believe they cannot have their true desires. Often people don’t reach their goals, or even try, out of fear of change or failure. In order to feel confident and find faith in your ability to accomplish your goal, you need to find evidence from your own life that supports your belief in yourself.

One way to build confidence is to overcome fear of failure. You can do this by proving to yourself that you have nothing to fear; failure isn’t so bad after all because good things always come in its wake.

Good Will Always Come: Rest assured that no matter what happens you will be okay. Everything in your life has always worked out, fallen into place…eventually. Hasn’t it? Even when something bad has happened, you have survived it (You are here now, are you not?) and it has most likely lead to something good or helped you grow into the person you are now.

The parachute always opens. Take this opportunity to remind yourself of the times your parachute has opened and prove to yourself that you have no reason to believe that it will not continue to do so!

“Everything will be alright in the end, so if everything is not alright, it is not the end.”
—The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Think of it like making a “change resume.” List any changes you have made, helped someone with, initiated, or lived through, and any accomplishments you’ve made, especially if they were challenging. Then list next to them any positive outcomes or unexpected blessings that came from each. Looking at all of the supporting evidence from your life sets a strong foundation of faith in yourself that you can, in fact, accomplish your goal—or at the least positively benefit from the journey, no matter what the outcome.

3) PLANNING: Make a Plan for Achievement

Even the most strongly desired goal cannot be achieved without a solid, actionable plan. Often, people get discouraged when goals are not reached or attempts lead to failure. This is most often because the goal wasn’t well thought through and an effective plan wasn’t made.

Focus on Outcomes: What’s the OUTCOME you’re hoping to achieve? Simply a completed task is not the outcome. For example, if someone is in sales and tells himself, “I am going to make four phone calls a day this week,” he may be able to make those four phone calls but not actually achieve what he really wanted—which was to make two sales for the week. If the OUTCOME is two sales a week, then THAT is his goal—and he’d probably need more than four phone calls.

Make a Concrete Plan: The strategy I use is called The 30-60-365 Action Plan, and it’s like creating a road map to your goal. This strategy starts with the “big picture” goals that you wish to accomplish in one year (365 days). Then you work your way backwards to determine where you would need to be at 60 and 30 days to be “on track” toward reaching our goal. Notice, it only includes a 30 and 60 day category. The reason for this is that, predictably, plans change after about 60 days. By re-assessing your plans every 60 days, you give yourself the commitment and accountability of a solid plan, but leave in room for flexibility should Life have something else in mind.

Success is about creating a balance between commitment and flexibility.

Below are the steps to writing your 30-60-90 Day Plan:

Write down measurable goals that you wish to accomplish in the next year.

Brainstorm all of the tasks that will need to be accomplished in that 60 day timeframe in order to be on track toward your year goal. Come up with as many things as you can. Then, organize them into meaningful groups.

Highlight or circle the items that are PRIORITIES—these are items that need to be done prior to working on other items. Move these to the 30-day list and leave the rest in the 60-day list.

Determine what needs to be done this week.

Pick one to three actions that you can take RIGHT NOW.

4) ACCOUNTABILITY: Stay Motivated

Even the best plan is ineffective if the person following it isn’t motivated. And, unfortunately, most people leave motivation to chance—waiting until the moment that they need to feel that motivation and then finding it’s not there.

The key is to prepare your state of mind in advance so that your true desire and big reason for reaching for your goals are strong enough to pull you through those times when doubt, discouragement, or procrastination threaten to zap your motivation. One of the biggest challenges you will find when working toward a goal is following through. Accountability is a tool to help you keep commitments. Having others to be accountable to keeps you on track and also helps you create the success you want.

Sharing for Accountability: Share your intentions and goals, publicly, or at least with several of your trusted friends and family. This can help you be accountable because you KNOW that someone is going to be asking you how things are going. You’re less likely to bail out if others are watching!

Finding Accountability Partners: Take your accountability further by collaborating with accountability partners. They should be folks who can be counted on for encouragement and reinforcement for what you are trying to accomplish. These can be friends, relatives, colleagues, or business acquaintances. Look for people with the following qualities: responsible, dependable, encouraging (no doubters or haters), and honest. If possible, find someone who wants to work on a similar goal—such as a workout partner.

If you set a goal, you are 10 times more likely to achieve it. So, if you have a goal you truly desire, are confident you can achieve it, have a solid plan, and are holding yourself accountable, you are well on your way to success!

But reaching your goal isn’t really the point.

Achieving life goals isn’t about getting there—it’s about the experience of reaching for the dreams and becoming a better person along the way.


Natalie Rivera is a firestarter, speaker and entrepreneur. She is passionate about empowering others to GET REAL and live authentically. After a decade of living a life that wasn’t hers and developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Natalie let go of everything and completely transformed. Through her journey to healing she rediscovered her true self and greater purpose—to inspire others to transform their lives. Natalie “retired” from the rat race at 24, put herself through school as a freelance designer, created a non-profit teen center, and later created Transformation Services, Inc., which offers motivational speaking, curriculum development, life coaching, event management, and publishing. She is also the Publisher of Transformation Magazine. Visit www.ignitelife.me.

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