My 4 Stupid-Simple Steps for Achieving Goals

Austin L. Church
April 19, 2017
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Last week, I attended MicroConf in Las Vegas, and CartHook’s Jordan Gal, who was the first speaker, joked that he always sees his motivation around the dinner table. His motivation throws food at him. His motivation has dirty diapers that need changing.I’m in the same boat. When I need a reminder of why I work so hard, why all of my business ventures are important in the first place, then I look at pictures of my wife Megan and our two children, Salem and Theo.If I’m working from home, I will sometimes leave my laptop and go into the family room or upstairs to play with the kids for a couple of minutes. I need constant reminders of my Why in order to stay focused. I can walk twenty feet and see my goals personified.

Do you keep your goals in front of you?

When we’re in the weeds, we become reactive instead of proactive. We give the squeaky wheel the grease. But what if the squeaky wheel isn’t truly important and beneficial? What if that wheel/project/relationship will not get you to where you ultimately want to go?Freelancing is a highwire act. We must balance the work that gets us today with future money.During this act numerous concerns can bounce you off the wire:

  • If you only focus on tomorrow, you may discover a month from now that your sales pipeline has dried up.
  • If you only do client work and have no other revenue streams, you may eventually get tired of drumming up enough new projects each month. Amongst freelancers burnout is common, and it’s hard to keep your edge when you’re too tired to give your best.
  • If you ignore important tasks while you put out urgent fires, you will wake up one day and realize that you haven’t made progress on your bigger goals.

Whoops.You must put your goals first.Okay, how do you do that?The first step to achieving goals is keeping them in front of you.After finishing Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever course in December 2016, I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to accomplish in 2017. Here are two of my goals:

  1. Romance – I want to take Megan out on two dates per month, just the two of us with no kids or friends. Dating my wife sounds so simple, but any couple with young children can attest to how months can slip by without a quiet dinner and long conversation.
  2. Family Time – I want to cut out of work by 5:45pm, and reserve evenings for family time. In the past, I would tell myself, “Just five more minutes.” Five became ten, thirty, forty-five minutes. I’d come up for air and notice the time, 6:37pm. We put the kids to bed around 8:00pm. Answering four more emails is not worth spending less time with them.

I needed to put more intentionality into designing a “shutdown routine,” as the author of Deep Work Cal Newport calls it.Though I value my work, I don’t want work to crowd out something else I value even more, being fully present with my family.Most people call this “work-life balance,” but I prefer to think in terms of five buckets. We all get the same number of minutes each day, and multiple goals compete for those minutes.How much time will you pour into each bucket?I tend to get in the weeds and forget what truly matters. It sounds crazy to admit it, but I forget my goals.

achieving goals

4 Steps for Achieving Goals

  1. Print out my goals. I went to the trouble of typing them up and printing them out. (Hat tip to Michael Hyatt for his wisdom in including this step in Best Year Ever.)
  2. Carry my goals everywhere. My printed goals travel with me everywhere in my work satchel. I can access them at any time.
  3. Review them weekly. I also added a recurring task to my calendar so that I remember to review them each Monday. By refreshing my memory on what is important, I stay centered. I don’t go chasing every new opportunity and shiny object. Revisiting my goals keeps me focused on them. Focus in turn leads to execution.
  4. Focus on fifteen-minute increments. Even if I only spend fifteen minutes a day on one of my ten goals for the year, I dramatically increase the likelihood that I will meet it.

Hopefully, you can take some advice for achieving goals from a flawed human being who often loses sight of what is most important: Keep your goals in front of you. Print them out, and carry them everywhere. Review them weekly, and chip away at them fifteen minutes at a time.I have knocked out client projects this way. I have finished books this way. I have built profitable businesses this way.You can too.Did you find value in this blog post? Please sign up for my weekly newsletter. I’ll send helpful freelancing tips your way.