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Most of us want to achieve success. The good news is there are formulas.

Research gathered by Locke, Shaw, Karyll, Saari, and Latham, published in The Psychological Bulletin in 1981 found that people who set challenging and very specific goals increased their likelihood of achievement versus those who set ambiguous and easy goals.

In an achievement-based society millennials strive for their own personal You Economy. Generation X, on the other hand, focuses on work-life balance and somehow setting their kids up for success, busting it out in the gym for the hot body, and managing to increase their salaries. Boomers work to have an elegant retirement.

The bottom line is they all want to achieve success.

Whether we realize it or not, we are always setting some form of goal; even if ‘getting through the day,’ is on your wish list – that in and of itself is a form of a goal.

The failure rate for goals is high.  According to a study of 5000 people by Go Banking, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. (For more statistics on New Year’s Resolutions)  Why?  There are a myriad of reasons including lack of self-worth, insufficient habits, failure to get organized, and frankly – not keeping the goal at the forefront.  When it comes to getting goals, rather than simply setting them, we begin to see the variable between achievers and non-achievers; those who have success and those who either give up or somehow justify that the goal wasn’t important.

As a coach, trainer, and speaker, I work with thousands of people every year.  In my observations, the following patterns have arisen amongst the achievement set and it is my hope for you that you will use these strategies to get your next goal instead of merely setting it.

1.  Set a Goal That Excites You

Are you really excited, and energized, by the thought of losing 20 pounds or does it seem like drudgery?  Are you fired up about making more money or does it seem like too much work?  Our goals need to fuel us and when we are passionate about something it doesn’t seem like work.

Ideally you want your goal to be written in a way that elevates your energy so for example, instead of saying, ‘I want to lose 20 pounds,’ you would say, ‘I am releasing 20 pounds of body fat and living into the leanest, healthiest version of me possible.’  For money, you might say, ‘I am earning $50,000 more in revenue in 2017 than I did in 2016.  I am excited about this because it will allow me to save more, take my family on a vacation to Disney, and pay off all of my credit card debt.’  The more excited we can be about our goals, the more energizing they are and the more likely we are to act.


2.  Make Your Goal Challenging

It is often said that if we keep on doing the same thing, we will get the same result.  Leadership, and growth, come in the face of challenge.  When we are challenged, we grow, we develop new strategies, and best of all we learn how to achieve in a new and exciting way.  Our goals need to be challenging in order for us to develop ourselves.

An example of this is when I decided to do an Ironman Triathlon.  I had never done a race of that length and on top of it, I was working full-time, caring for my child, and had been diagnosed with MS.  It was a challenging goal; one that forced me to learn how to train, rest, and fortify my body efficiently.  Finishing 8th in the pro women was a dream come true and absolutely worth every bead of sweat.

Challenging goals challenge us to grow and when we do we see what we are truly capable of.


3.  Set a Well-Formed Outcome

One of the big challenges with goal setting is that most goals are one-dimensional.  If your goal is to take your family to Costa Rica, it is imperative that you visualize yourself there, feel the sun on your face, the gentle breeze billowing over you, the sound of the waves crashing, and imagine any smells you might experience.  In NLP, we call this a well-formed outcome.

When our goals are multi-dimension we are more likely to lock them into our sub-conscious.  From there our sub-conscious goes to work figuring out ways to achieve the goal.


4.  Create Specific Action Items Around that Goal

All goals have smaller action items that encompass the desired outcome.  For example, if you want to get leaner then there are certain forms of exercise to do, nutrition to follow, an adequate amount of sleep, and so forth.  Whatever you want to achieve must be broken down into action steps.  This will increase the likelihood that you will get what you want.


5.  Torch Any Limiting Beliefs Around the Actions

Using the 6-Step Process of Torching Limiting Beliefs, breakdown any limiting beliefs you might have about the action steps.  For example, if you want to make more money but have a limiting belief that people will reject you on sales calls then it is imperative that you breakdown that belief in order to move forward.  When we have limits on the precise actions we require to achieve a goal, we will never fully achieve what we have set out to do.


6. Model Someone Who Has Achieved a Similar Goal

Do you know someone, either personally, or professionally, who has achieved what you want to?  Is there a way to ask them questions?  If not, have they written a book, or do they have a blog, or podcast, you can access?  The most successful people in the world are often willing to share their lessons.  When we model their behavior, habits, and decisions, we often achieve a similar result.


7.  Put the Goal Out in Front of You

When our goals are out in front of us, we are much more likely to achieve them.  Whether you create a vision board that you tape to your bathroom mirror, or visualize the goal as literally in your face, you are much more likely to be successful if the goal is somewhere you can see it as opposed to a place that is abstract in time.  As a certified NLP coach, I have my clients do an exercise that places the goal in their near future so that they are much less likely to procrastinate.

You can create a similar result by closing your eyes and imagining your goal as already achieved.  If it is not out in front of you, perhaps to your left, right, or above your head, physically reach out your hands, grab the image, and move it in front of your face.


8.  Mark ALL Progress, Especially Small Progress

I am coaching a client who has a network marketing business.  Before we began working together, she set large goals, didn’t follow through and set herself up for disappointment.  I suggested that she maintain her ultimate goal of achieving a six-figure income however that she begin to build upon her previous month’s income by adding ten percent the following month.  What has happened is that instead of achieving ten percent, she is consistently achieving a twenty percent increase in income.  I have taught her to mark all of her progress, including the seemingly small steps.  In doing this, she has tremendous appreciation of her accomplishments and is no longer beating herself up over her perceived failures.

Regardless of the magnitude of your goal, it is essential to mark all progress.  Releasing one hundred pounds happens one pound at a time.  Creating a better marriage happens one kiss, one hug, one kind word, at a time.  Making more money happens one dollar at a time.  As Wallace D. Waddles wrote in the Science of Getting Rich, it is essential to acknowledge all progress.

Lastly, I wish you every success with your goals.  I would love for you to comment below on the strategies that you intend to, or are already implementing for effective goal-getting.  If you have a question, or idea for a podcast, blog, or FB Live show, please contact us at

Susan Sly is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist.  Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives.  She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.





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