How to Tell if You’ll Achieve that Goal You’ve Got


Goal setting can work but it often doesn’t.

The problem with goal setting is the goal is in the future and it seems that between today and the future there is an ocean of hard work and toil.

This is not motivational. It just isn’t.   

To hack through this ocean of hard work and toil we will need tons of willpower but willpower is in very short supply. And anyway who wants to live like this?

I’d rather most of the people I consult with had no goals rather than these world-of-toil goals.  

The fact is a lot of people manage to achieve a lot of stuff without any goals at all. They know what progress feels like and they do things that feel like progress. And as such progress is made.

So, as someone schooled in the scientific method, I have to say that goal setting is not required for goal achievement. It’s a fact. But I will say that goal setting done right helps the productive produce more and can keep the distracted on track. But we need to set the goals properly.

How to Tell if You’ll Achieve that Goal You’ve Got

If you can answer the following question immediately, without thought or hesitation, you’ll probably achieve your goal:

How does my goal benefit me today?

If you have to think for more than two seconds, the chances are you will not achieve your goal. Even if there is an answer the chances are you will fail because the answer is not in the front of your mind and therefore has no motivational value.


Here’s something of which I’m pretty sure. After six years of coaching. People do what they want to do pretty much all the time. And they want to do what pleases them. People seldom take action to avoid potential pain. Real pain – yes. Potential pain – no. So most people are pleasure seekers most of the time. You know it’s true. And this propensity strengthens with age.

If you have not crystallised what your goal does for you today, not tomorrow, or next year, or when you get back into the little black dress or when your business is making you millions on autopilot, then you are in a world of work and sweat and deferred pleasure and all that hard stuff that isn’t motivational and all you have to get you through is iron will and super human discipline. This is not tipping the odds in your favour. This is rigging the game in failure’s favour.


…after thinking of your answer to the question, you cannot come up with any answer that pleases you, throw the goal away. You will not achieve it and you’ll be miserable in the trying.  

The benefit can be anything – the goal gives me focus; clears my head; makes me fitter today; is another day ingraining a good habit; helps me grow; moves me in the right direction…

People often say that the journey towards the goal is the best bit. Achieving the goal can be a letdown.

This is because we live today.

Not yesterday or tomorrow. We live in the here and now. Your goal achievement spends almost all of its life in the future or in the past. Like a butterfly, it has one day of life – the day you achieve it.

That’s why it’s so important to define what your goal does for you today. Today’s benefit. Because there are an awful lot of todays.

If there is an answer to the question, do yourself a favour and work out what it is. This is how you achieve goals.

So here’s the question again:

How does my goal benefit me today?

2 Responses to How to Tell if You’ll Achieve that Goal You’ve Got

  1. Paula February 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    I have put this question on a sticky to show up on my desktop. I hope this doesn’t count as procrastinating . . .

    Thank you Mark.

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