How to achieve your goals

A person hiking
Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

Many people struggle with achieving their goals. We have some dreams or aspirations, and we claim those are our goals. But are they? Are those things goals?

Of course, I could talk now about setting SMART goals. It wouldn't be a bad idea.

The goals we have should have SMART properties. Otherwise, we won't even know whether we have achieved them already or not.

How to set a goal

In one of my previous texts, I described the productivity techniques used by Mirosław "Miroburn" Burnejko - a Polish entrepreneur who describes his approach to life as "optimizing life to get the maximal personal freedom."

He also has a unique goal-setting method. He calls it "3 levels."

According to Miroburn, when we want to achieve something, we should turn it into a SMART goal and then split the goal into three stages. He suggests 10%, 30%, 100% split.

For example, if you want to run a marathon once, you must get ready to run 42.195 km. Assuming that you have never been running before, you should split the goal into three parts:

  • running 4 km
  • running 12 km
  • running the marathon distance

Of course, if you comfortably run 20 km, you change the starting point to 20 km and split the difference between your current performance and the goal into three stages.

Why is this method supposed to work? First, it changes an ambitious goal into something manageable. After all, you have first to run 4 km to run a marathon.

You have to do it! If you have never been running, even 4 km may be tricky.

You learn different things required to achieve the final goal at every stage along the way. When you start running, you learn how to warm up.

When you want to run a longer distance (for example, 12 km), you will need good running shoes. It didn't matter when you were learning how to run 4 km. At the later stage, it starts to matter.

Ok, fine. If you run on pavement or roads, you may want to buy the running shoes sooner.

After achieving the 12 km goal, you will need to learn the proper running technique to get to the 42 km.

Why does splitting the goals into three stages work?

Miroburn says you should celebrate achieving every stage. I don't know about you, but nothing motivates me as much as seeing the progress.

Also, after achieving a smaller goal, you can reflect on whether you want to continue. You already know more about the goal and yourself. You can decide whether the goal is good for you.

You can use the first stage goal to test whether you want to do something.

For example, Miroburn wanted to have a house with a garden. That was the 3 level goal. How do you split it? You can't have 10% of a house. Can you? It turns out you (sort of) can. His first stage was renting such a house for a month to test whether living like this suits him.

Why do I think it isn't enough?

Does this method work? It kind of works, but I think it isn't enough. In my opinion, setting a goal is not enough, even if you turn it into a SMART goal, split it into three levels, etc.

Every goal is just an aspiration.

Saying "I have a goal" means nothing. What do you have to do to achieve the goal?

What are the actions you do every day to achieve it?

Should you add a to-do list to every stage in your goal? Maybe, but I still think it won't be enough.

You can't force a goal upon yourself.

You will achieve only things that come naturally to a person like you.

The real goal should be becoming a person for whom the goal comes without much effort.

I'm in the middle of a weight-loss attempt. I used to weigh 96 kg. Today I weigh 83.9 kg. The goal is 83.0. Will I keep the weight after achieving the goal? I heard so many warnings about the yo-yo effect.

If I fail and increase my weight to 96 kg again during the next six months, I won't blame the yo-yo effect. I will blame myself for failing to become a person who naturally keeps a healthy weight.

Weight management is all about balancing the calories you eat and burnt calories.

If, after burning the calories, your body still has a surplus, it will increase the weight. The more you weigh, the more calories you need to stay alive, so your body will do it to the point when it runs out of calories surplus. For me, it was 96 kg. With my previous diet and lifestyle, that was the natural body weight.

For me, 83 kg is the first stage. The next one is having 18% body fat, so I will need not only to burn fat but also to grow some muscle. What's stage three? Keeping the results for a year.

The problem isn't losing weight. The problem is how to change your lifestyle to become a person weighing 83 kg naturally. What habits do I need to start? What do I have to avoid?

That's why setting the goals and splitting the goals into stages isn't enough. I prefer to write down the goals as aspirations. For me, the real goals are the habits I have to form to achieve the aspirations without much effort.

When 83 kg became my aspiration, I started forming the following habits:

  • counting the calories I eat
  • eating less to create a 500 kcal deficit
  • going for a one-hour long walk every day. Now I turn it into running three times a week.

The next step is going to be weight lifting 2-3 times a week and eating 1.5g protein per every kg of body weight.