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How To Achieve Your Goals: 3 Simple Steps From A Founder And CEO

Peter Swaniker

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Achieving goals

How you achieve your goals over the long term has a lot to do with believing in yourself—and knowing, deep down, that you’re capable of doing the thing you’re setting out to do. 


I’ve always wanted to be in control of my own destiny.

Long before I started my own company, I had this fear that I would hit the age of 55 or 60, get laid off, and then not be able to find another job—because I’ve seen it happen. There are people in my life who are in this situation, having worked their entire lives and then, all of a sudden, had nowhere to go.

I never wanted to be in that boat.

With that fear in mind, I had to be really honest with myself and ask the tough question: “How are you going to achieve your goals?” I knew I wanted to own my own company at a certain point, but that’s a scary thing to do. It means quitting a steady job and going out on your own—which is the thing that holds most people back from achieving whatever it is they want to achieve. In my case though, it wasn’t fear itself I was afraid of.

It was regret. 

The worst thing that could happen wasn’t me “failing.” It was being in my old age, looking back, and wishing I’d done things differently. 

If you start a business and it doesn’t work out, you can always go get another job. If you take that leap and things don’t go according to plan, you can always adjust. But the one thing you can’t reverse is time. And doing nothing at all is far worse than trying and failing.

So, how do start trying?

1. First, banish your fear.   

Everyone has goals. Everyone has “a dream.”

If you think about it, most kids learn how to ride a bike or do a trick on a skateboard a lot easier than adults. And the reason is because kids just haven’t internalized “fear” yet. They’re not scared of falling or cracking their skulls on the pavement. They’re not as afraid of “messing up.” But as an adult, every time you get on the metaphorical skateboard of life, you probably think a thousand bad things are going to happen to you.

Right?

And if you never get on the skateboard in the first place, well, you never learn to skate.

How you set, reach, and achieve your goals is no different. It’s all about getting back to that child-like part of you, hopping on the skateboard and life, and trusting that even if you fall, you’ll get right back up again. You might scrape your arm. You might sprain your ankle. 

But you’ll also be learning, and improving, and getting better, and better as time goes on.

2. Don’t expect to reach your goals overnight—or even soon.

Recognizing and acknowledging your fears is just the beginning.

How you achieve your goals over the long term has a lot to do with believing in yourself—and knowing, deep down, that you’re capable of doing the thing you’re setting out to do. 

For example, maybe you want to become a better public speaker and overcome your fear of being in front of big crowds. That’s a big goal, and certainly not one you can overcome overnight. But when you break this goal down into actionable, more achievable goals, now you have a path for yourself to get there. Maybe your first goal is to speak at a small dinner with friends. Maybe your second goal is to speak at a local event.

Rather than focusing on the marathon, just run one mile.

And once you run one mile, then you can run a second mile.

3. Be open to new pathways and opportunities along the way. 

Success, and the true definition of “achieving your goals,” is all about being flexible to the new ideas that present themselves along your journey.

You may start out on one path and realize the direction your headed isn’t the right one—and that’s okay. Maybe your goal has changed. Maybe you learned something new about yourself in the process. Or maybe you’ve just given things 110% and, for whatever reason, it’s just not working.

There’s a difference between being persistent and being foolish.

The key is to understand whether the challenge in front of you is asking for more effort, or for you to pivot. And that’s a fine line for a lot of people. Some give up too early, and others give up too late. Which is why it’s important, all along the way, to continue asking yourself what the path is asking of you—and what you need to do in order to make it to the finish line.

Founder & CEO of Ximble. Passionate about technology and entrepreneurship.

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