The secret to achieving your goals every time

‘Success is steady progress towards one’s personal goals’– well, that’s what my fortune cookie from The Peacock Gardens told me last night.

Achieving goals is a daunting journey littered with setbacks. Yet watching our eight year old son learn to play rugby has reminded me of the secret to reaching goals.

It’s the secret that has helped me to dust myself off when I’ve failed, and has kept me moving forward. And it’s a secret that works whether you’re 8, or 50.

Our eight year old son plays rugby. This season the boys have to tackle. In the first game, he did everything he could to avoid tackling. “You have to tackle,” I yelled at him during the game, and continued to hound him with the same mantra during the following week. Saturday came around and despite all the counselling, cajoling and encouragement, and his good intentions, not one tackle! If I had hair, I would have pulled it out.

Then a local fitness trainer gave us some advice: “Just ask him to do two really good tackles in the next game. No more.” We did this. Next game, he made two great tackles, and cleverly avoided the rest. Progress! The following week, we encouraged him to do three tackles. He delivered the three, and no more. At time of writing, we’re a day away from a five tackle game…. And that takes him to half time!

The lesson for our development?

The secret I have learnt in my career to help me achieve my goals is to set manageable short term targets along the way.

Always begin with the end in sight.  Have clarity around the big picture goal. And set a timeframe. “I want to be a great tackler by Game Five.” “I want my firm to win the XYZ account by Christmas.” “I want to be promoted to Account Director by September 30.” Then set manageable targets – step by step goals within our reach.

So… Start with two tackles a week. Then three. Then four. And suddenly- hey- that little boy is a great tackler. Begin with the end in sight – be clear about what you want to achieve. Then achieve big goals “two tackles at a time” by setting manageable short term targets. Good luck with your journey.

That’s the story I wanted to share today.  If you have time for one more great story that illustrates the ‘set manageable short term targets’ secret, then read on- please!

One More Story Just For Fun

Brian Tracy tells this story. A French colony in North Africa had two towns in the desert separated by 500 miles of featureless wasteland. The sand would blow over tyre tracks between the towns every night. Vehicles and lives were being lost.

So, the local officials painted 100 oil barrels black, drove between the towns, and every 5 miles they’d position one barrel and fill it with sand. When done, 100 black oil drums lined the path from town A to town B, 5 miles apart. Now- 5 miles is apparently about the distance we can see on a flat surface. So if you were half way between oil barrels, you could clearly see the barrel behind you, and the barrel ahead.

To get from town A to town B, you did not have to focus on the entire, daunting journey (even though you knew exactly where you wanted to get to), you just had to keep focused on the next oil barrel. And then the next.  And so on. Before you knew it, you were 50 oil barrels in and half way there.

Begin with the end in sight- be clear about what you want to achieve. Then achieve big goals ‘one oil barrel at a time’ by setting manageable short term targets. As the other fortune cookies told me (I have a sweet tooth), ‘Eat an elephant one bite at a time’, and one more for the road, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’

> View a video of Chris retelling this post

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8 Responses to The secret to achieving your goals every time

  1. Justin Di Lollo June 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    The oil barrels story is an important one. I’m currently right between two of them – the one ahead is slighly obscured by a sandstorm, but I’m confident I’ll see it in a minute or two!

  2. Susan RM June 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Hey Chris – loved this post. I remember you doing exactly this when we worked together, and you always did what you said you were going to.

    Also can’t believe your boy is eight!! Am sure he will be a Wallaby if he follows your method.

    • Chris Savage June 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks Susan! Glad you remember those days- yes, 8 years ago! Chris

  3. Kamal June 30, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    Great story! Thankyou for sharing

  4. Kate Whitehair June 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    I really enjoyed this Chris. Thanks!

  5. April 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Неy there! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      Thanks Heath- appreciate you following the Possum. What’s Porter, Texas like?


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