Be an Achiever, Not a Goal Setter

When perception fails

“Genius is 1% percent inspiration and 99% percent perspiration.”

— Thomas Edison

Growing up, I was always taught that:

  • Diligence is a highly praised virtue, and
  • The key to success is working hard.

If you don’t succeed, you probably don’t work hard enough.

If you fail to learn a certain skill, you might have ignored the importance of deliberate practice or consistency.

But I was wrong.

And I’m glad I have a brand new perspective on achieving goals.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying that working hard isn’t important at all.

It’s merely part of the whole picture in achieving goals –

the whole picture is what I failed to see for many years.

In this article, I want to share with you:

  1. How I fail at achieving goals by working hard
  2. The inspiring graphic that changes me
  3. The achiever’s map reading strategy: How I now think about achieving goals, and my framework for you to take away and make use of

How I failed at achieving goals by working hard

I’ve always wanted to start a side hustle.

I set it as my 2022 goal, and I felt so excited and confident about it.

A year went by, I only got a few commission works from my friends and old clients.

I haven’t really accomplished anything about my side hustle yet.

What happened?

To start my side hustle as a calligrapher, I decided to build my website.

I tried several website platforms, and even built two e-commerce websites on my own.

But I got so busy solving problems with my web server, modules, themes, third-party payment, and shipping issues.

After solving one problem, another came up.

I was convinced that every time I solve a problem, I am one step closer to my goal.

I learned new pieces of knowledge.

But I forgot that my goal is to run a side hustle, and building a website is not the only way to achieve it.

I worked hard, I learned skills related to the goals, but my passion is gone.

In the end, I doubt myself and don’t think I can make it.

What’s not working for me?

  • Work hard with no clarity in mind
  • Stick to it when facing obstacles
  • Learn new skills and did not focus on my goal

I did not know all these until I see this graphic in a book:

Image by Small Wins

An inspiring perspective on achieving goals

Here’s the story from the book:

One tech company hired a consultant to solve a technical issue.

When asked what he had done to help the company improve, he drew the picture above.

Why is something so simple often neglected?

“In most companies, they work so hard after setting a goal.

When running into obstacles, they spend too much time removing them, forgetting that their main purpose is to get to the goal.

The more professional a company is, the more likely they got stuck in the process.

For people who are top in their fields, it’s harder for them to jump out of this paradox.” 

— “美股買賣初學指引” by 蘇百舜

Working hard on removing obstacles is not the only thing that matters.

Achieving the goals IS.

It’s simple, but it’s also a mistake we often make.

The Achiever’s Map Reading Strategy

To know better about my goals, I develop the idea into the map reading strategy.

The change to my approach brings me a clearer picture of goal setting and makes me more productive and confident.

Image by Small Wins

Image that you go to a place you’ve never been to before, and you’re standing in front of the map.

What are the steps you take to go to your destination?

  1. Figure out where you are
  2. Find your destination
  3. Decide a route and be aware
  4. Need a little help? Use navigation-
    take advice from people who had gone down the road.

This is how you become an achiever.

Step 1: Figure out where you are

— Know Yourself

Before setting a goal, what you should do first is to know yourself.

It’s like reading a map — you find out the “You Are Here” pin.

In the book “High Performance Habit,” Burchard points out that “self-awareness is so key to initial success,” and that you have to know:

  • Who you are,
  • What you value,
  • What your strengths and weaknesses are, and
  • Where you want to go.

In Burchard’s research, the essential habit of seeking clarity is what most high performers (achievers) have in common.

Knowing who you are and what you want might sound like common sense.

But it’s also something we tend to overlook before setting our goals.

Step 2: Find your destination

— Set Your Goal

Where do you want to go?

The answer should be specific.

For instance, if your goal is to live a healthier life,

  • Define what “Living a healthier life” means.
    Do you mean to eat well or sleep well?
    Or going to the gym three times per week?
    If the answer is the latter,
    maybe you can scale down your goal and focus on one thing at a time.
  • How is this goal related to yourself?
    Why is it meaningful to you?
    (Who you are, what you value… what we discover in step 1.)
  • Imagine the moment you accomplish your goal. What would it feel like?
  • Set a deadline for your goals, so you won’t postpone them over time.

Step 3: Decide the route (Identify the methods) and be aware

To achieve your goal, what do you need to accomplish?

  • What are the possible ways to achieve your goal?
    What are your plans?
    Break your plans into small steps.
    It’s like paving a road to the destination.
    When the road is paved in front of you, all you need to do is to start walking.
    This will reduce self-doubt and anxiety.
  • The 80/20 rule:
    What’s the 20% of your action that would lead to 80% of the outcome?
  • Keep examining: Are you still on track?
    As time goes on, is the method you chose still the best one?
    Are there any other possibilities to achieve your goal?
    If you find a better way to your goals, don’t be afraid and go try it.

Step 4: Need help? Use navigation.

Take advice from someone who had gone down the road.

Are there any friends or anyone on social media who had achieve the goal you set?

Are any YouTube channels, podcasts, books, or blogs related to your goal?

Make a list and surround yourself with what you’ve listed.

Put related books on your desk so you would be constantly reminded to read them.

Listen to related podcasts when you commute.

Watch related videos when you feel bored.

This will give you energy, and help you connect the dots at some point  — 

Maybe you’ll come up with a better approach to achieve your goals.

Setting and achieving goals is a big topic.

There is definitely more to discover.

What’s your approach to avoid getting lost when achieving goals?

Do you want to be an achiever?

I have created two Notion templates that will help you stay focused on your goals and continue working towards achieving them.

2024 Minimal Life Planner

Task Flowy