Setting goals is much easier than achieving them — but with the right approach, you make success almost inevitable.
Most people treat their long-term ambitions like Tupperware in the fridge.
They have good intentions but get distracted by fresh snacks until it’s too late and yesteryear’s Chicken Alfredo has turned into a furry, blue, and inedible baby.
Just like that, they let their goals go moldy in the back of their head.
Data shows only about 50% of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions for more than a month. After two years, about 80% have given up.
But that’s not all.
When you fail to achieve your goals, you lose trust in yourself. “Why can’t I follow through for once?” “I’ve messed up again.” “’l’ll never get it right.”
I’ve been there, but since mental self-flagellation isn’t as fun as it sounds, I vowed to change something.
Instead of tackling my long-term goals with an, I’m feeling lucky attitude, I designed a foolproof, straightforward system to achieve them.
This helped me build a writing and coaching business in under two years from scratch.
In a few months, I’ll be moving to South-East Asia with nothing but a backpack and my laptop to fulfill a long-held dream of mine: Travel the world, live in beautiful places, and make money while doing so.
Whatever your long-term goals are — financial independence, a great relationship, or being in the best shape of your life — here are the strategy and tactics that will get you there.
Are You a Strategist or Tactician?
That’s the question a friend of mine used to ask people.
Most responded with “What’s the difference?”
Strategy is an overarching plan and set of goals to turn your vision into reality.
Building a location-independent business to work from anywhere in the world, cutting expenses and making smart investments to retire early, or creating a rigorous nutrition and training plan to compete in an Ironman.
Tactics are the individual steps and decisions to follow your strategy.
Creating an offer and finding clients, looking for undervalued stocks and cheap apartments to live in, or going for three runs a week and improving your swimming technique.
“Strategy is buying a bottle of fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it.”
— Frank Muir
Take a sip of that wine bottle and fasten your seatbelt, because it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty of achieving your biggest goals.
The Clearer the Water, the Easier the Swim
The human mind is amazing, but your imagination isn’t limitless — which often curbs your success.
Look at the bright yellow circle in the sky, the catalyst for Vitamin D, the origin of skin cancer, and the facilitator of climate change — our sun.
It’s bigger than the earth, but it’s hard to grasp just how much — you could fit 1 million Earth’s inside it, akin to putting 25kg of rice grains into a very hot barbecue.
Sounds like a lot?
Well, you could also fit 1.6 billion suns inside Betelgeuse, one of the largest known stars.
These numbers are almost impossible to imagine.
When you set long-term goals, you face the same challenge.
Your weekly plans are on your radar, but what about the goals for next year?
In three years?
It’s hard to grasp these timespans if you’re living in 24-hour cycles.
They seem so far away that you always think you have enough time left — until you don’t anymore. But if you instead break them down into small, tangible steps, you’ll know exactly what you have to do every month, week, and day. Here’s how to do it.
Use the power of OKRs
In the long list of productivity and planning techniques, OKRs are one of the most undervalued.
Getting clear about your Objectives & Key Results will help you obtain razor-sharp focus and move the needle-like an underpaid child worker in a Bangladeshi sweatshop.
Your Objective is what you want to achieve.
For example, I wanted to hit a minimum monthly revenue from a business I could run from anywhere in the world using nothing but my laptop.
The Key Results are measurable, specific milestones you need to pass to achieve that objective.
This means that every month, I aim for two new clients, ten articles, and some extra money through a third income stream for additional safety.
Also, I need to outsource some tasks so I have time to travel instead of working 80-hour weeks.
Little strokes fell big oaks
Once you’re clear about the path, all that’s left is to create small, tangible steps so you can eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time.
Separate your key results into monthly, weekly, and even daily action steps.
If your objective is to have a one-million-dollar stock portfolio and retire by 40, this means spending some hours analyzing the stock market and investing money every week.
If your objective is to place Top 100 in an Ironman, this means a bunch of regular training sessions and healthy meals every week as well as getting at least eight hours of sleep a night for recovery.
Strategy & tactic lesson #1: Get crystal clear about your objectives and key results. Break them down into tangible monthly, weekly, and even daily actions.
Consistent Progress Equals Consistent Success
Running a marathon is easy — just take a lot of steps, one after another.
The problem is most people don’t approach their goals that way.
Instead of making steady progress, they use motivation to burn the candle from both ends, which creates a lot of heat but isn’t a sustainable strategy.
Instead, build the right habits and improve consistently.
Crash-diets lead to yo-yo effects, sustainable changes in eating patterns help you lose weight and keep it off.
All-nighters burn you out, consistent progress helps you build your legacy.
Ten hours of reading get you through a book, ten minutes a day through a library.
Small habits and improvements aren’t as sexy as posting #sleepisfortheweak and #nodaysoff on Instagram, but they have one significant advantage — they work.
Dashrath Manjhi, dubbed the “Mountain Man” of India, lost his wife when she fell from a rock and he couldn’t get her to the neighboring village because it was too far away. To deal with the grief, he tackled a seemingly impossible feat.
He set out to dig a 110m long gorge through solid rock with nothing but a hammer and chisel to reduce the distance between the two villages from 55km to 15km. The villagers called him crazy, but 22 years of daily effort later, he had accomplished the impossible.
Constant dropping wears the stone.
“If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.” [1.01³⁶⁵ = 37.78]
— James Clear
Here’s how you can build habits that stick like superglue.
Start small — standardize before you optimize
I’ve trained in gyms for over a decade now and every January, I witness the same spectacle.
New Year’s resolutioners swarm in like locusts, high on endless hours of motivational YouTube videos, throwing dumbbells like Tom Brady footballs.
They work hard and sweat their butts off, literally.
But two months after the initial storm, most found six workouts per week too hard and are back on the couch in front of the TV.
Humans tend to overestimate what we’re willing to do.
But if you want to build a solid habit, how often matters more than how much.
Make it easy and start small — read for ten minutes a day, go for two runs a week, and spend half an hour on your side-hustle after work.
Only increase the load once the habit is solid.
Standardize before you optimize.
Leverage environment over willpower
Through evolution, we are all hardwired to opt for the path of least resistance — use this to your advantage.
Have you ever wondered why auto-play features on YouTube and Netflix work so well?
It’s easier to stick around for another video than lean towards the screen and click it away.
To resist the temptations of endless episodes, tasty cookies, and sleeping through your home office hours, you have to use willpower.
Unfortunately, it’s a limited resource, so forcing yourself to do things is neither fun nor sustainable.
Use the power of your environment instead.
Want to read more?
Put a book on your couch and hide the TV remote.
Want to eat healthier?
Stop buying cookies and stack fruit on the kitchen counter.
Want to use the morning hours for working on your dreams instead of scrolling through social media? Have your phone in airplane mode and use app blockers.
The possibilities to design your environment are endless, but your willpower isn’t. Act accordingly.
Track & reward yourself
With all our modern inventions, technological advancements, and intellectual achievements, it’s easy to forget how simple humans are.
Your brain craves rewards.
You work for money, buy fast food for fat and sugar, and whisper sweet nothings into someone’s ear for a round of horizontal tango.
If you get the reward, your brain will make a mental note to repeat the behavior.
Reward yourself and it’ll be much easier to stick to your habits.
Create a list of what you like and use the items as incentives.
Accomplished everything you wanted today?
Awesome, make yourself some tea and relax with your favorite show.
Had a productive week and stuck to your habits?
Great, treat yourself to a massage and a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant.
Using the right rewards can do wonders for your motivation and long-term progress.
Work hard, play hard.
Strategy & tactic lesson #2: Employ a mindset of consistency and gradual improvement instead of burning the candle from both ends.
Design smart habits that stick like superglue and help you make progress even on rainy days.
The Ultimate Tool Box to Stay on Track No Matter What Happens
Everyone who’s had a few trips around the sun knows that life doesn’t always go as planned.
There will always be unexpected circumstances.
The spontaneous meeting or requests from your boss.
Catching a stomach bug that makes your intestines dance the macarena for a week straight.
A partner or friend who gets into trouble and needs your help.
These can get you off track quicker than black ice a 90s pickup truck — but only if you let them.
Life is unpredictable.
Stay agile, learn from your mistakes, and adjust the course.
That’s how you become unstoppable.
Think about your journey like a road trip — you wouldn’t drive for eight hours straight without ever checking your GPS, hoping you don’t end up in Alberta instead of Alabama.
Instead, you take regular breaks to check your route, stretch your legs, and make sure everyone’s happy with how things go.
This is why reviews and planning are crucial to your success
To stay on track and don’t get derailed you have to regularly check and adjust your path if necessary.
I use weekly, monthly, and yearly reviews to track my progress and identify areas that need polishing.
This might sound tedious and over-the-top, but as productivity guru and author of over 80 books Brian Tracy said:
“Every minute you spend in planning saves you 10 minutes of execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy.”
Here are the questions I use for my weekly review.
- What were some of last week’s wins?
- What key lessons did I learn?
- What can I do differently to raise my average performance?
- What responsibilities/deadlines are due next week?
- What challenges do I anticipate and how will I prepare for them?
- Do my daily tasks get me closer to my long-term goals?
- What are the three highest-leverage tasks that move the needle most?
- What key habit or task will I accomplish next week? What’s the specific one thing that will move me forward?
My monthly reviews follow a similar structure, but I also set three big milestones to achieve and a reward for succeeding.
For my yearly check-ins, I use this template.
Strategy & tactic lesson #3: If you get off track, you’ll waste time and energy.
A few minutes of planning can save you hours of detours.
Do weekly, monthly, and yearly reviews to succeed in the long run.
Recap to Help You Achieve Your Biggest Long-Term Goals
- Get crystal clear about your objectives and key results. Break them down into tangible monthly, weekly, and even daily actions.
- Employ a mindset of consistency and continuous improvement instead of burning the candle from both ends. Design smart habits that stick like superglue and help you make progress even on rainy days.
- If you get off track, you’ll waste time and energy. A few minutes of planning can save you hours of detours. Do weekly, monthly, and yearly reviews to succeed in the long run.