Overcome the 2 main obstacles to reaching your goals

Most of us don’t need new goals for the year.  Really, we don’t.

But we do need to continue to progress toward our current goals (and, hopefully even reach some).  Additionally, we need to make some adjustments from the feedback we are receiving from “real life.”

In working with highly successful leaders for over two decades and interviewing them about what they believe contributed to their success, two principles rose to the top:

  1. Persevering in the face of difficulties, and
  2. Responding to the feedback they received from the marketplace.

Most often, people don’t reach their goals because they give up pursuing them.  And, guess what?  When you quit pursuing your goals, you don’t reach them.  It doesn’t take an engineering degree to make that logical connection.

But what is the difference between perseverance and stubbornness, or being hard-headed?  Or the difference between “being committed to a goal” versus being “crazy” – in the sense of pursuing a goal not based in reality?

Largely, I think being able to distinguish the differences lies in wisdom and discernment – which we all need desperately.  But partly, at least, we can learn by listening to the feedback we receive from the marketplace – particularly, what they want and what they don’t want.

Those who successfully reach significant goals seem to have both perseverance and the ability to make needed adjustments.   They keep moving in the general direction they have plotted out, but they also watch for and listen to signs that indicate they need to make some changes.

The “principle of one degree” is often cited in navigating long-term trips — being off of your course by just one degree, over a long period of time, leads you thousands of miles off of your destination.  Similarly, sometimes our goals are actually “off the mark”.  And reaching your current stated goals may not lead you to where you actually want to go.  Listen for feedback like: “You could do that, but … ”  or “Are you sure that is what you really want?”

Making just a few slight adjustments can have a huge impact on the result.  Minor adjustments in the design of the product or process, in your costs and pricing, in your marketing message, or, in reaching the right target audience – all can lead to success if you are asking for and listening to feedback.

So, give up looking for the “magic bullet” new goal that is going to “turn everything around” or make you “successful” (however you define success).

Why is this two-step process so important (and successful)? 

First, because unless you were really off-base in creating your original goals, they probably aren’t that far off the mark, and you should continue to pursue them.

But, also, life changes over time and you learn things along the way.  The world is almost certainly different than when you started this journey, and you need to take those changes into account.  And while you have been traveling on your path, you have observed and learned (hopefully) helpful information and lessons along the way.  You need to incorporate this new knowledge into your goals and how you will accomplish them.

Reaching your true desired destination

Recommit yourself to your overall direction. Continue to invest time and energy toward your goals.  But also, actively pursue obtaining the feedback that will help you bring your goals into crystal-clear focus and fine-tune the direction you should go.

Then you will successfully reach the true, desired destination that you have been pursuing.

This article first appeared on AppreciationAtWork.