STRATEGY

5 Steps for Accomplishing Any Goal

Need to accomplish big things? Here are 5 steps to help turn your objectives into reality.
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In mid-July I added kayaking back into my life. Most people don't consider New York City a logical choice for getting close to nature, but happily I was able to find a place to store and launch my boat on the Hudson River, only a 10-minute walk from my home. Just as soon as I got back on the water, I decided to set a major goal. My intention was to circumnavigate the 28 miles around Manhattan in a single day.  My previous kayak feat was crossing Long Island Sound in 2007, a 13-mile paddle. I hadn't been kayaking for four years and was unfamiliar with the strong and erratic currents, so I gave myself a year to accomplish the goal.

I am happy to say that last Sunday, I completed the Manhattan roundtrip, ten months ahead of schedule. It took nine hours on a beautiful day and was a wonderful way to usher in autumn. The process I used to tackle this goal is the same I use for all my objectives, personal and business. When I follow this methodology I am usually pleased with the results; failure comes every time I stray. I hope these steps help you tackle your awesome objectives.

1. Vet the Goal Thoroughly

Not every goal is worthy. Often unachieved goals aren't met because the motivation isn't really there or they were truly unrealistic. I could set a goal to be a professional basketball player, but at 5" 6' in height and 48 years old, the odds of success are astronomically low. Building a Fortune 500 company would be more likely, but for me even that goal would have no place in my preferred destiny, making it hard to emotionally make room for the necessary time and effort. Spend time internalizing your goal and seriously questioning why it's important. Explore the strengths and resources required for success and compare them to your current weaknesses. Ask yourself if you are truly willing to make sacrifices for the accomplishment and whether the rewards outweigh the risks and commitments for everyone involved.

2. Write It Down and Share It

This simple approach is unbelievably powerful. Studies have been done that prove you are 50 percent more likely to achieve a goal that you write down, and 75 percent more likely if you share the commitment in writing with a friend. It sounds simple, but seeing the goal in writing daily helps you focus on the objective even when your mind is occupied elsewhere. This may lead to immediate recognition of opportunities that will support the process, even when you're not looking. For my longer-term BHAG of putting a book on The New York Times bestseller list, I took this step to an extreme. I tattooed "New York Times Best Seller" on my chest backwards, so I see it in the mirror every morning. Seeing it each day has helped me move much closer to accomplishing that objective given my experience and resources. It guides my choices and efforts daily.

3. Do Your Homework

Few things worth accomplishing come easily. The greatest sense of accomplishment comes from surpassing goals that challenge the mind, body and spirit. If your goal is audacious, you will require information beyond what's currently in your brain. Time to become a smart learner. Research what you can about the process and the environment impacting the goal. Business goals are most often missed due to unrealistic assumptions combined with a lack of diligence. Give yourself every chance of hitting the goal by surfacing every potential obstacle in your way and exploring every possible solution.

4. Find an Expert Guide

There is little glory in reinventing the wheel when it's totally unnecessary. Powerful objectives will have more than enough challenge even if you learn hints, tricks and shortcuts from those who have succeeded previously. For my kayak trip, I enlisted very helpful Manhattan Kayak Company guides to help me navigate the currents and provide safety. That allowed me to focus on being in good shape and pacing myself. They also suggested improvements for my paddling technique on YouTube, which made my trip easier and left me with no soreness the next day. There is no shortage of resources available today for just about any task. If you can't find a live person to share, the Internet has most everything you'll need.

5. Commit Publicly to a Regimen

Focus and discipline are key to any big accomplishment. Doing something extraordinary requires changes in patterns and behaviors. In my case, I had to make new time in my schedule to train regularly. It wasn't easy, but I was committed enough to the goal to make the extra effort instead of just hoping I would magically be ready, as often happens in business. Sales teams often miss big goals because they just do the same thing thinking they can get a different result. Adapting to new behavior is hard. It requires a conscious effort. But no need to do it alone. Let your inner circle know what you are trying to accomplish and let them provide correction and encouragement to keep you on the right track. Then you can keep your head down and push hard for the finish. The greater victory will be much sweeter when shared with a supportive team.

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IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Sep 27, 2013

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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