Top 10 Tips to Successfully Set Goals and Accomplish Them


ast lesson, we learned about having the right mindset and to realise that what we can achieve is all up to us to reach our goals this year.

Moving on from this, you need to start breaking down your huge goal into mini ones and take steps to cover each mini goal in order to progress towards your big goal.

Here are my favourite top 10 tips for you to successfully set goals and accomplish them

For 10 years as a national canoe polo athlete in Singapore, I struggled to achieve many goals in my sport. Not because I did not train hard enough, but it was because either I wanted something way out of reach, or I did not make proper planning and steps to strategise my way to that desired destination.

You might have experienced a similar situation as I have, maybe you wanted to lose weight for the longest time, maybe you’ve worked like a mad dog yet you never seen the light of day.

At the same time, there are so many versions of how to set goals that you’re confused on whether to shoot for the stars and take bold actions or to be realistic and stay closer to Earth.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” — Tony Robbins

How do you set the goals and yet accomplish them within your given time?

For me, it was through so many years of trial and error and learning from better athletes in my sport that I’ve finally mastered the simplest yet most effective ways to accomplish any goal in this world.

Any goal at all.

I have here the top 10 tips for you to successfully set goals. They are really simple, you just have to follow these, stick to them and work as hard as you can.

1. Write them down

I cannot stress enough for you to keep a journal and just write.

Seriously, it’s high time you take at least 5 minutes a day, sit down in stillness to just look within yourself first, don’t get distracted by what your friends are sharing on Facebook, no phones, no TV.

If you don’t want to be rude to anybody by not responding to anyone’s call, block off that time by telling your family that it’s your quiet time now before you get into your writing.

Then you might ask, “What do I write? My mind’s all blank and I don’t want to waste my time sitting there staring into space.” Look, you are not wasting your time.

Of course you are not going to stare into space for hours. Get started first by writing where do you want to become after this season is over, or after your big game, or even after today’s training, meeting, work day or whatever you are working so hard on right now.

You need to envision and identify what your life would be like after your hard work is done.

There are many different ways you can write down your goals in your journal. Some people use post it notes to put down every goal in every post it note and use the elimination process to pick the top goal to work on.

For me, I love creating mind maps so that I can connect my thoughts and expand my possibilities as much as possible on paper.

By writing down your goals you are showing personal commitment and declaring your intention to succeed, as well as helping to clarify your thoughts.

2. Be specific with a challenge

You really have to be super detailed when it comes to getting your goals down. Not only you have to resonate with what you want to achieve, you need to have all the arbitrary numbers and measurements that say you have arrived at your goal.

It’s to put down in detail what are the exact feelings you have, the exact metrics you produce and the experience you will get when you fast forward your life to the future.

You need to write down goals that are specific, measurable and positive.

Many people talk about setting attainable and reachable goals.

My advise is, if you are just starting out something that you’ve never done before, start off by setting baby steps with mini goals first.

Give yourself the allowance to stretch a bit more than your limit, but make it possible.

If it’s too easy, you may get bored and it doesn’t challenge you enough. If it’s too far-fetched, you’ll end up giving up earlier.

For example, if I asked you what is your dream job, you may say “I just want to sit at the beach whole day long for my entire life.”

But imagine yourself sitting on the beach for some time, you may feel good for awhile, but in reality you may end up feeling bored and start to look for something more challenging to do.

It’s natural for human beings to do something useful, challenging or something that needs a bit more effort to deal with.

Whether you are running a marathon, trying to stick to a healthy diet or working to achieve any personal goal, if it comes with little or no effort, it means nothing.

It’s okay to do something harder than what you think you can do.

If you are still afraid of making a big transition to your life, start with something within reach first. Once you get the momentum of making it a habit to do that thing everyday for 21 days, then I would suggest you to start taking bolder actions than before.

3. Set a time limit

Set a date by which you will have achieved each of your goals. Otherwise, it’s like starting a football match without having agreed when the game is to end!

A lot of times, many athletes say they want to master this skill, be faster at rowing, or running, be powerful when it comes to shooting, learn a language or be proficient in coding.

If you are like them, it’s great, because it’s fantastic that you have aspirations to strive to be better than you currently are now. There’s no issue of you desiring to aim to run as fast as Usain Bolt, to score like Michael Jordan or to be as successful as Elon Musk.

My question to you is, by when are you going to master these skills?

It’s not about the level of difficulty, because the difficulty depends on the possibility you believe you have in you.

The issue is your date due.

All of us, even Michael Jordan, we all have a time limit in this world, our time here is limited.

I don’t mean to be dismal, but all of us will leave sooner or later yet we may not know when.

So before our time is up, set that date, give yourself a number, for example by 31 December 2016, you are going to be able to run a full marathon in less than 4 hours.

Based on my experience, those athletes who merely wished to be better at a skill and although they really train hard for it conscientiously, barely made it and quit the team altogether even before they see the light of day.

You are not like them, get down to setting a time limit for yourself. Don’t be afraid of not meeting that date. Set that date and trust yourself to accomplish it.

4. Think of the benefits

Why do you want to achieve these goals in the first place?

Think through all the benefits of achieving your goals, and write them all down.

This helps you clarify why they are important to you, visualise and feel what it will be like to achieve them, check how committed you are to working on them — and all this will help energise and motivate you if the going gets tough.

Again, to do this well, you may wish to do what I usually do as I’ve mentioned earlier, to use mind-mapping to get clarity on all the possible benefits.

Instead of ranking all your benefits in a list, spread them out and link them up so you will know what leads to the ultimate benefit you intend to go for.

For example, I want to finish my marathon by 31st December 2016 under 4 hours because the process that will eventually leads up to it will keep me healthier and fit with better sleep, better nutrition and better mental focus.

These are benefits I can think offhand for myself. Yours may be different. Yours could be, being able to reach one goal this year could lead you to work towards a bigger goal next year.

So keep linking them up, they don’t have to be in neat rows in a list format,

Just get them mind mapped out and you can organise them after you are done doing the brain dump.

5. Consider options and obstacles.

As with anything you do in life, you know you can’t control everything and sometimes, many things can come between you and your goals at the wrong time.

So what do you do?

Ask yourself, how many ways can you think of to achieve your goal?

Looks like you can come up with this by using a mind map again here.

You can get another fresh piece of paper and label something like “possible obstacles” and just link that up with all the various challenges you can possibly think of.

Could be things like, you may fall sick, or your kid needs attention, the weather turns cold or nasty. You get the point. Put that all down.

Evaluate the results and consequences of each. What could stop you or cause a problem?

What about subconscious obstacles like procrastination?

Some days you may skip training due to certain feeling that overwhelmed you and so on.

You can try to complete this sentence several times to find out more.

Start with “I want to achieve (blank) (name your goal) but………” Then you carry on with your reasons. It takes time, but as Zig Ziglar says, “goal setting takes at least 24 hours”, it may be a bit of work, but it will solve your life’s problems.

6. Make a detailed plan

So now you have all the numbers, details, desired mini goals and skills to achieve.

Then what would be your exact steps to accomplish them?

Are you going to the gym twice a week for a an hour, or everyday for 3 hours?

Are you seeking help from a coach to be your mentor?

Are you required to change your diet?

If you need to, what is your exact recipe for this week and the next and the week after next?

This is one of the most boring thing I’ve every done because I’m the kind of person who loves adrenaline and action more than going into planning.

But I know it’s necessary to keep my activities in check. It’s definitely worth your while to choose your preferred way forward, identify all the actions you’ll need to take right from the start.

This breaks a seemingly big and daunting task down into manageable steps, enables you to plan what to do, prepare for problems, and reduces resistance to actually getting started.

7. Identify resources

What skills, knowledge, ability and contacts do you already have?

What additional resources will you require?

What changes do you need to make?

Realistically review and assess this when making your plan, and ask for extra support as required.

Most of the time even if you are in an individual sport, or working alone, it doesn’t mean you will have to totally depend on your own resources throughout the whole year.

It’s important that you leverage some form of help and assistance depending on your goals to pick up the skill sets necessary to reach your goals.

Say for example, if you are into running, you may need to read more materials on the right running technique to make efficient use of your energy so that you don’t waste your energy unnecessarily.

This is so important especially in endurance sports.

So really understand your performance and recovery needs to dish out where you can get such materials. They could be books, videos or even audio like podcasts and audiobooks.

8. Keep your life in balance and stay fit

Check that all the areas of your life are in balance — if not, will your various goals make this happen?

Will your goals support your long term plans and fit your ambitions, are they worthy of you, do they reflect your values?

So while you are building that grand plan of yours to be the best athlete ever, best worker in the department or best parent of the year, ensure that you are also looking after your health, relationships, fun time, wealth and personal development etc.

Never go overboard with your training or work because you may get burnout, and you don’t want that.

The last thing you want is to hate your sport.

You want to enjoy whatever you are doing and be at the top of your form as much as you can.

9. Take action!

Make a start.

Actually take the first step you identified when you formed your plan of action.

Although it’s important to write and get your plans down on paper, you will need to eventually get up and start working and training based on your plans.

Do not just plan and put it aside and not do anything that you’ve already planned.

Stick to your plan and maintain it every other day.

10. Review and reward

Set some interim milestones as part of your initial strategy.

This means you can check your progress regularly and see that you are moving in the right direction, and as part of this process, acknowledge your achievements along the way and reward yourself for everything you accomplish.

Celebrate every milestone and acknowledge all that you’ve achieved be it baby or bold steps.

This is so important to keep you moving in the direction you know is the way to go and arrive at your eventual destination.

If you are an athlete or wish to be one, or simply can’t wait to live a life of your dreams, follow the above steps and you will be inching closer to your goals sooner than before.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela

At the same time, if you’ve been following my podcast closely, prior to this post, I’ve previously published an episode on the 10 Steps to Successfully Set Goals and Accomplish Them. You may wish to go back and tune in to episode 63 to learn more if audio works better for you.

Your Turn

What are your goals and what are you doing to accomplish them today? Share with us what works for you so athletes around the world can learn from you.

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