The One True Shortcut to Success

I’ll begin by admitting that the title to this post is clickbait. But lots of people will indeed click on it because lots of people are indeed looking for that shortcut to success.


If you’re one of those you’re going to be disappointed with this post. You’ll be disappointed because the only true shortcut to success is to lower your expectations for yourself. Settle! 


Settle for less than you deserve, settle for less than you could have, settle for less than you know in your heart you are worth. 


Settling is easy, it’s fast, it’s efficient and once you’ve told yourself that you’ve achieved as much as you can, you’re set! When get over that feeling of failure you’ll be able to convince yourself that you’ve achieved an acceptable level of success. Unless you’re like most people and you just can’t get over that feeling. 


If you’re one of those people who just can’t shed that feeling that life has more to offer then I’m sorry to say it but there is no shortcut for you. You’ll have to work for your success.


The good news, great news actually, is that there are no limits for you. You can do it all, you can have it all, and once you believe that, it’s possible that you will have it all. 


Having what you want begins with knowing what you want. Most people have madhouse type hectic schedules these days. So much so that they often don’t stop long enough to ask themselves if what they are doing is actually what they want to be doing. In essence their life is running them instead of the other way around. 


That’s where goals come in. 


The process of setting goals, at least the serious process of setting goals, begins with self-reflection to determine your core values. That allows you to determine exactly what you’re willing to do in order to hold firm to those values. 


For instance, perhaps your core values include raising your kids to value all people and help them understand the importance of giving back to their community and those less fortunate than themselves. That will require a fair amount of influence from you. That influence will most likely come from modeling that behavior while investing loads of time with them.


Where will that time come from? What are you willing to stop doing so you can start sharing time with your kids? You undoubtedly would say nothing is more important than your kids. Do your goals reflect that? Are you actions reflective of your goals. Do those all important kids only get whatever time is leftover at the end of your hectic day? 


I don’t know anyone who wants to lose site of what’s important to them while on their journey to success, it just kinda happens. Unless you make it not happen. Setting goals can be a challenge but the real challenge is developing the habit of reviewing them on a regular basis so you never lose site of them. 

Setting, reviewing, and reaching your goals is not a shortcut to success but it is a proven method of achieving it. Stop wasting time looking for shortcuts and start investing your efforts into something that gets you closer to your goals.

A Different and Better Year Ahead?

If you randomly ask 100 people if they would like 2018 to be “better” most everyone would say yes. When you ask them what they are going to do to ensure that it is indeed better you’ll likely get just as vague an answer as the question you asked. 


The problem with the question of course is that “better” can be defined in literally millions of ways. Better to one person might be less rain in 2018 but if your a farmer in a drought stricken area less rain would be the exact opposite of “better.” 


The more specific you are in stating exactly what “better” looks and feels like the greater your chances of actually having a better 2018.


Setting goals for yourself in 2018 can most certainly help, making resolutions almost certainly won’t. But whether you have goal or resolutions heading into the new year your best chance of having a better 2018 is simply to make better choices and decisions.


You likely have far more choices than you realize and you have a ton more control over the circumstances of your life than you think. If fact, if you’re like most people you don’t actually consider just how much of your life you can change just by changing the choices you make. 


You choose your friends… do you ever consider that? Do you complain about one friend to another? I suppose everyone does that once in a while but if you are consistently complaining about one or two people in your life then you should be asking yourself why you are allowing them to be part of your life. 


The most successful people do not complain about things they have control over, they just choose to change them. You get to choose your friends and you get to choose most of the people who are a part of your life. 


You are basically the compilation of the five or ten people you spend the most time with. That means one of the fastest ways to change your life is to change the people you hang out with. 


That’s not always easy, in fact it’s frequently hard, but it is worth considering and then doing if you want to be in control of your life. 


Another choice most people seldom consider is their thoughts. You DO choose what to think in any given circumstance. You can look for the good or the bad in most any situation and more often than not, you’ll find what you’re looking for. 


Your thoughts play a major role in controlling your life because your thoughts almost always are reflected in your actions (even if you believe you can hide your thoughts from other people) and it’s your actions that people pay attention to. Always remember, people believe some of what you say but they believe everything that they see you do. 


I’d encourage you to pick one day, one single day is all you’ll likely need, pick a day and consider for just a second or two why you thought what you just thought. Where did that thought come from? Before you do something pause for just two or three seconds and ask yourself why you’re doing it. 


It will likely take far less than a day for you to realize how many choices you actually make without considering how much those choices will impact your life.


Sooner or later we all sit down at the table of consequences. Whether what you eat at that table is sweet or bitter is the result of hundreds of choices you make each day, many without even realizing it was a choice. 


Once you realize how many choices you actually make in a day, many without even thinking, you’ll have a chance at making better choices. Better choices lead to a better life. 

So what exactly does “better”mean? Well that’s just another choice that you get to make for yourself.

Are You in the Three Percent?

Research shows that less than 3% of people write down their goals.  Most people are statistically more likely to spend time organizing exactly what they want from the supermarket than they are working out what they want from life.  Crazy but true.


One way, most successful people would say the best way, to get more out of life is to develop meaningful personal and professional goals.  The biggest predictor of success is purposeful direction.  If you don’t have something to aim for in life, the chances are you will end up achieving far less than you would like.  Almost every successful person in the world started with a clearly defined goal and a plan to achieve it.


The beauty of setting goals is that they actually help to streamline your life, adding focus and something tangible for you to work towards while shedding unproductive low yield activities.  In some ways goals are like guideposts helping you to move towards a meaningful life, towards something that holds special importance to you.  What that special something is, is a very individual choice.


The first step to working out what you want is to establish what is important to you in life.  If for example, you value your friends and family above anything else, then it makes sense to set a life goal of spending as much quality time with them as possible.


Consider answering the questions below and start devising goals around the answers you produce:

  • What would you want to achieve if you knew you could not fail?
  • What is the legacy you most want to leave behind?
  • What and who exactly are you when you’re at your absolute best?
  • If today was your last day on earth how would you spend it? Who would you spend it with?

Your answers to these questions will provide you with valuable insights about what is truly important to you in your life and help you jump start your goal setting process.  


Put yourself in in that 3% and you’ll have a chance to make 2018, and all your years to come, the very best years of your life! 



Goals are Intended to be Flexible

Did you set goals for 2017? I sure hope so because your chances for a successful 2017 increased ten-fold if you invested time in a serious goal setting process as the year began.


But once your goals are set you’re not done. Goals are meant to be flexible, changing as your circumstances change. That means you must review your goals on a regular basis, adjusting some, adding others and maybe even discarding those that no longer fit.


Only 25% of 2017 is left to accomplish the goals that you set forth earlier in the year. Now is a great time to conduct a review of your goals. 


What’s working and maybe even more importantly, what’s not. Has what’s important to you changed to the point that your goals need to change to stay in sync? Do your goals still seem realistic and obtainable? Are you on pace to achieve the things you hoped for when you set these goals? Are your priorities the same today as they were when you first wrote your goals?


These are all questions you should seriously consider asking yourself; even if the year is not going as planned, it’s not too late to make whatever adjustments are required in order to achieve the success you envisioned for 2017. 

Flex your goals for success! That’s how successful people achieve their goals.

When Goals Matter – Part Five

I’ve asked hundreds of salespeople through the years about their goals for an upcoming year and a common answer is “I’m going to sell more.” When I ask how they are going to do that the most common answer is, “I’m going to work harder.” 


I know that neither is likely to happen, not because they don’t want them to but wanting to sell more and pledging to work harder are not goals. At best they are hopes. At worst they are just lies we tell ourselves so we can more convincingly tell them to our bosses later.


They aren’t goals because they lack most if not all of the elements of the SMART method of goal setting. But most of all they completely lack specificity. Sell more? Wow, what salesperson doesn’t want to sell more? 


The obvious question is how much more but even that answer would be missing the specificity to truly be considered a goal.


At the end of this post you’ll see an example of a goal-setting form designed to promote the type of specificity required to set true goals. 


Pay close attention to every area. Your deadline to accomplish the goal is critical but so is the start date. Successful people know that “someday” is not a start date and neither is tomorrow. Write down the date and even the time of day on that date that you will begin. That’s specificity! 


When thinking about the investment you’re willing to make to achieve your goals think in terms of more than mere money. What amount of time are you willing to invest to achieve these goals, money is often the easy part. Time is usually harder to come by, that’s why I stressed “stop goals” earlier in this series. When considering the challenges you’ll face and how you will overcome them think also about who will help you. 


It’s not a weakness to ask for help and it’s not a bad idea to have that help lined up before you need it. 


Lastly, how will you know when you have achieved your goal? Is it really measurable? You absolutely have to be honest with yourself here or the whole goal-setting process is worthless. So be honest! 


Don’t forget to spell out what your first step will be. Starting is very often the hardest part of all. Once you get going you have the opportunity to build a little momentum. There’s nothing wrong with starting small, a little momentum is far better than none at all. So get going! 


Never ever forget, these are your goals. Pay no attention to the negative people who may just be afraid of your possible success. Listen to those who have your best interest in mind but always make your own decisions. 


Decide today that you will be unstoppable in pursuit of your goals and you will not be stopped. You will achieve the life you want and you’ll do it your way. I’d call that a pretty good definition of success! 


So, here’s the very simple form to guide yourself towards achieving the life you want:




Using the SMART formula, determine the goals that will help you reach your Vision/Mission.


Goal #1   Long-term   Intermediate   Short-term   (circle one)



Deadline to accomplish:



Start Date:



Investment I’m willing to make:



What challenges will I face?



How will I overcome these challenges?



How will I measure my progress?



The first step I will take is: 

When Goals Matter – Part Four

I remember asking one of my mentors many years ago what I needed to do in order to be successful. His answer, as usual, what short and to the point. He said you must have balance in your life. 


It was his opinion that you could be the most successful business person in the world but if your family hated you then you were not truly a success. He believed that an unbalanced obsession in any one part of your life kept you from complete success. 


I believe he was 100% correct in his assessment.


So I recommend setting goals in six key areas of your life. Those areas are family and home, financial and career, spiritual and ethical, mental and educational, social and cultural and physical and mental. (For those of you who think that’s 12 areas I’m okay with that too but the pairings actually go together)


I think you’ll find that having goals in each of those areas can help you achieve them all. You may not always be motivated to head out to work but when you realize that you’re actually working for your family it tends to make it easier. Perhaps you’re really kung ho about getting that promotion at work but when you also have a goal to have a thriving social network you may be more likely to pull yourself away from that desk. That means you have some balance in your life. 


Before we go any further let’s make one thing perfectly clear; when I say social network I’m talking about the old fashioned kind, you know, the kind where you interact with actual humans, face-to-face. Talking to them…with your voice. No amount of social media followers or friends will ever replace human contact and never kid yourself that it will.


Now, back to goals.


Once you’ve determined where to set goals you’re pretty much ready to start writing them down. I like the SMART method of setting goals, you’ve likely heard of it many times. Make certain your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed


It’s a great method for setting goals, it has just one problem….it seldom works. It’s not really that SMART goals fail because they are not smart, they fail because most people don’t seem to understand the definition of specific. They end up with MART goals and that doesn’t even sound smart. 


So, in the fifth and final post of this series we’re going deep on specificity. You’ll end up with goals that represent your roadmap, a detailed roadmap, to success.


Until then consider this… I’ve always heard it said that there are only two things certain in life, those being death and taxes. I’d like to add this to the certainties of life: if you’re willing to be stopped in the pursuit of your goals there will always be someone or something to stop you. 

The more specific you are in setting your goals the harder it is for someone else to get in your way. You’re looking at a substantial investment of time in order to be specific when setting true goals but it’s an investment with a guaranteed return because it’s an investment in yourself. 

When Goals Matter – Part Three

Hopefully since my last post you’ve been considering those activities you do with some regularity that provide you with no return on your time investment. Your odds of accomplishing anything new go way up when you’re prepared to give up something old to get it. I guess maybe that’s what “they” mean when they say life is full of trade-offs.


If you’re indeed serious about stopping something in order to start something new you’ll need to set a stop goal with as much specificity and accountability as any other goal. We’ll talk about those goal setting characteristics in our next post but the key thing to remember is that a stop goal is indeed a goal and the same rules apply if you plan on achieving it. Old habits die hard and unless you’re very intentional about killing them they tend to linger on indefinitely.


There is no magic to the number of goals you have but keep in mind if you’re focusing on 21 different things you actually have no focus at all. Prioritizing your goals in order to focus is a key to actually achieving them. It’s also perfectly okay, in fact it’s good practice, to occasionally adjust and rethink your goals.


If you’re serious about goal setting then it’s vital that you be honest with yourself. If you have a goal to be debt-free in 3 years then don’t try to convince yourself that you can go three years and never spurge on something. Build the occasional spurge into your goals, discipline is important in achieving goals but so is realism. Being overly aggressive when setting goals causes frustration and frustration is a short path to failure.


Your formal goal-setting process begins by determining your vision and your mission. You should write out an actual vision and mission statement to guide you through your goal-setting and your life. Your vision statement is a description of where you are going in life and what it will look like when you get there. Make it fun, make it appealing and make it truthful. This is YOUR vision, don’t be talked out of it by someone who wants to run your life. It’s hard enough to achieve your own goals; you’ll find it nearly impossible and totally unfulfilling trying to achieve someone else’s. 


Once you have your vision statement you’re ready to develop your mission statement. This is a statement that sums up the direction you want your life to take in the future. That direction should be leading you directly to your vision. Once developed your mission will become the driving force behind your goals, both personal and professional. 


Goals always matter but when you’re on a mission you’ll find that goals really really matter.


By the way, if you’re still wondering about those stop goals then a mission statement can really come in handy. If you’re doing something too frequently that doesn’t help you accomplish your mission then you may want to set a stop goal around it. That allows you to focus more energy on the things that do help you accomplish your mission.

In my next post I’ll discuss the areas of your life you may want to consider setting goals and exactly what a true goal looks like. Until then start thinking about your vision and mission. Understanding, with great specificity, where you want to go in life is absolutely essential if you truly hope to get there.