How Goals Can Help You Define Success

Interested in setting annual goals? Every December, Michael Hyatt opens up his popular course, Best Year Ever. I highly recommend it. Watch three FREE videos from him about goal-setting here.

It’s no secret that I love me some productivity hacks. So last year, I was all smiles when I stumbled upon a wonderful productivity resource: the Beyond the To-Do List Podcast. Since that time, I’ve listened to dozens of Erik Fisher’s podcast interviews, and have learned quite a few things about how many influencers around the world organize their days for greater productivity.  Recently, Erik came out with his first ebook, touching on one of the most common themes that arises in his podcast: Goals.

You have ’em. I have ’em. We all ’em. But we don’t always know how to set ’em, or how to actually complete ’em.

His new ebook, Beyond the To-Do List: Goals, is a great daily primer for getting you to think bigger, and to think concretely, in order to get such goals truly checked off. One of Erik’s main points is that goals are really very different than priorities — even though many people lump the two together. I asked Eric for more on what he meant on this provocative point. In response, he provided three simple steps you need to take to break down your priorities into goals:

  1. Define your success. Let’s say you have a “priority” of family. Fine. But what relationships make up that family, and how would you define what success means for those relationships? More specifically, if you are married, what would having a “successful” marriage look like? What characteristics would it have? Think about it and write down your thoughts.
  2. Make an action plan. Go over what you’ve written down and be honest about what needs to take place for this success to happen. Continuing with the example of marriage, if success is defined as having clear communication, quality time, and deeper intimacy, you need to choose actions that foster the growth of those attributes. In this case, scheduled date nights, family business meetings, and other ideas specific to your marriage will make this success a reality. Be sure to communicate clearly with those who will be helping you make these changes. It is really important to have support from others. You can’t just change an important area of your life overnight.
  3. Put it on the calendar and do it. Jerry Seinfeld became a better joke writer by writing daily. To maintain discipline he used a wall calendar which has the whole year on one page and hung it on a prominent wall. After he did his work, he used a big red magic marker to mark each day he’d done his task. Can you do that? Or something similar in your own life?

Make sense? So the first step, of course, is defining that success. And it’s not always such an easy question.

Have you stopped to think about what you really consider success in your life? If so, how can you translate your idea of success into actionable goals that will help you reach it? 

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32 thoughts on “How Goals Can Help You Define Success

  1. Thanks Claire! Having a clearly defined action plan will allow us to work towards our goals, and the calendar would also help to serve as a daily reminder of our action tasks. As human beings are actually forgetful creatures (unlike elephants!), we would need constant reminders to keep us on the right track! 😉

  2. While I don’t disagree with the article, there are conditions and caveats on oversimplification of recipes. … ////
    Defining success:
    In both personal and professional spheres, the definition of success is on two levels of perceptions:
    1. Your personal goals and your evaluation of the extent you have reached, the feasibility and ability to meet those goals / exceed or overachieve either from the bar being set too low or an excellence of undiluted effort, focus, motivation and determination / persistence.
    2. The perception of what others see as your success or failure and the importance / weightage you give to other opinions over your own evaluation. In the professional sphere, the rating of your success / failure by peers, juniors and seniors will play a major role in determining how much of that `definition; of success is based on indices within your control and choice. …. ///

    Action Plan
    Very few action items are exclusively in the realm of your individual efforts and often depends on the involvement and motivation of people and situations, not all of which is within your control in part or in whole. So when these factors do not dovetail into your scheme of things, your action plan will be impacted. This is not to ascribe blame for failure, but to emphasize the reality of being practical in anticipating that few things, if ever, go according to plan.. Murphy’s Laws were not born from sarcasm but from the fate of inevitability. … ////

    Good suggestion, but holds the inherent pitfalls of procrastination.. Maybe that date on the calendar for `things to do; should be today.. or even yesterday.. For those with a deadline, there are always too few hours in a day and so cramming that calendar is the risk of the other extreme.. .. ////

    The three points almost seem like clichés
    And persistence may not always be a virtue.. For someone who has been advised to try and try again till you succeed, he/she may be better off being advised to seek another mission or a different approach. … ///
    Some failures do not have the luxury of second chances..

  3. 1. CDO has the cutting edge to systematize the abstract notions in clear terms.
    2. Waiting for the scientific systematization for of our DNAs and HELIX 🙂
    3. Thanks for the post,
    warm wishes,

    • Transforming DNA shouldn’t be a problem. Scientists are now abandoning the long-held belief that we are hard-wired with our DNA. They now speculate that DNA can mutate due to environmental factors, e.g. an intelligent to do list. 😉

  4. As usual, CDO is on the cutting-edge of amazing transformative possibilities. I haven’t gotten the book yet, but plan to. Was it Ghandi who said that you must be the change you wish to see in the world? Perhaps we must first become the change we wish to see.

  5. Hello Ms. Claire,

    Thanks for the post. Its good. But where can i download the book Beyond the To-Do List: Goals if i want to? Please guide me with this, if possible.
    Best regards,
    Viral Shah

  6. I have had a successful career practicing most of the behaviors Erik Fisher covers. But over time you may misremember things or just forget. Thanks very much for this reminder. I just downloaded the ebook and look forward to catching up again.

  7. Now I study to think about myself. Thanks Claire! Your post help me to do this, and else I study English. And I do comment you write in your recommendation.

  8. This post really makes you think about your life and where you are headed! Just getting me feet on the ground after college, success to me in the business world would be to ‘wow’ my way up. People of my generation or any generation don’t just get thrown up the ladder of success just by doing their work well. They must ‘wow’ their employer and go above and beyond. My goal is to figure out where I stand, and how I can achieve that wow factor in my career.

  9. Thanks for highlighting this Claire. I’ve had the chance to meet Erik and even had him on my show around the time of the launch of his book. He truly practices what he preaches.