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The Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reach Big Goals

Often we are told to dream big, the sky is the limit, and nothing is impossible.

While this is excellent and lovely advice to set those big goals to make you (and your surroundings) happier and healthier, how to reach those goals is often less clear.

Does a simple and accessible framework for success based on scientifically tested steps exist? Author Frederik Van Lierde • Saturday, March 13, 2021 • Impressions: 2,157
The Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reach Big Goals

Many of us have ambitious, long-term goals and dreams. Only a few of us make them happen. What makes the difference between dreamers and those who succeed?

Dreaming is not enough; having the idea is not enough.

When we set out our goals, we do this mostly with very good intentions, so why do our best-laid plans so often fail? When we're so committed to making a positive impact and fulfilling our ambition at the outset, how come we don't avoid the common roadblocks that stand between our goals and us?

The key message in this episode is that we need to think small to reach big goals. Contradictory, you may think? No, thinking small is not about reducing your ambitions. It is about adopting a mindset that let you focus on getting the small and often simple tasks done, opening the path to the next stage towards your goals.

The following framework is not a checklist; it is more a guide to reach big goals. You don't have to religiously follow all the steps.

let's dive into the framework

#1 Set your goals.

short video

The problem is not a lack of goals; it's too many of them. Set your goals is not only about the many end goals. Find out which one is most valuable for you and focus on that goal.

Setting your goal is about setting a specific target and break the objective into manageable, smaller steps. Setting a goal is setting a clear target and deadline.

When I do this, I repeat this step several times, treating every minor step as a new objective and create smaller, even more, manageable steps.

#2 Your Daily Routine

short video

Once you have your goals, objectives and manageable steps, you need to find a way to integrate the required actions into your daily routine.

To succeed, you should create simple, precise actions, rules that reduce the mental effort required to stick to them.

By repeating the same actions, you create habits, and habits will make it easier to reach your goals.

#3 Commitment

short video

Previous steps are still easy; you can be on your own while creating them. You can think of them while running. That is not enough. You need commitment. You need to make a pledge. You have to ensure that it is linked to your main goal and the small steps you have created.

Write down your goals, your objectives and steps. Make it public, talk to people about your goals even when they think you are crazy. You are more likely to stay true to your commitment. Proof them they are wrong.

And, last but not least, appoint a commitment referee. He or she will help you to stay true to your core goal—someone you trust but who is not afraid to mete out penalties if you fail. We are not of violent punishments. But let you do something different. For example, let the person wear the football club's shirt he/she doesn't like.

In my case, they would let me ski again for one week instead of my snowboarding.

#4 Reward

To stay committed, put something at stake and use small rewards to keep you going, to stay creative and motivated. Incentives matter. Put something meaningful at stake. Link achieving your goals to a significant reward; make it binding & enforceable.

Motivate yourself along the way by using smaller rewards, smaller incentives linked to specific steps achieved.

One remark, be aware of financial incentives. They can backfire. You don't want to undermine your good intentions.

When I sell my company, a big step towards my ultimate goal is to offer myself a new mechanical watch personalized for me.

#5 Feedback

Previous points are still fun. Now, you need to implement a feedback procedure to track how close or how far you are from your steps, goals, objectives.

Ideally, you want feedback that is personal to you, clear about what you need to keep doing or do differently to reach your small steps.

If possible, depending on your goal, you should find out how well you perform compared to others. Olympic sprinters don't care how fast they are; they care about if they are quicker or slower than the competitors.

In my business, I compare my business goals to my competitors like Spotify, Rakuten, Amazon etc., on several metrics.

Those principles on feedback look obvious, and maybe you think, why am I listening to this episode. Then consider how infrequently adequate feedback you get in the real world.

#6 Stick

This is a rule, not a task. A "sine qua non". Stay focus, test different roads, different approaches and celebrate successes and repeat.

If you want to stick at a long-term goal, you have to be prepared to put in the hours, to undertake effortful practice and learn from your successes and failure along the way. [Check out
Fail Fast Mantra Debunked]

What often sets apart ordinary people from those who achieve great things is a unique blend of passion and perseverance. Sometimes it is called 'grit.'


It is the small changes you make that will add up to something big. Small doesn't mean easy. It requires focus, dedication and effort. Over time it will pay off.

Reaching your ultimate goal requires you to admit that you do not always know what works best and that you need to try out new paths and learn from them.

By breaking up big goals into a set of manageable steps, seeking feedback against a set of alternative approaches, you can reach something big.

I spent a small amount of time weekly, reflecting on what I have done and what I have learned. And it pays dividends in the long term.

If you want to go deeper into this subject, based on science, I recommend reading the book "Thinking Small, reaching big." The book comes with other real-life examples, explaining the science behind it and how you can implement it.

Lots of people have amazingly ambitious, long-term goals; a few make them happen. Are you one of the few?

Tell me in the comments what roadblocks you have or what successes you reached with taking smaller steps first.

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