Five steps for achieving almost any ambition

It’s not only about making goals, it’s also about the alignment of goals, and reaching them in lesser time.

All of us have some dreams and ambitions that we want to make true while we are alive, but most of us make one big mistake, we confuse our dreams and ambitions with “goals”.

Goals are just some actionable checkpoints that lead us towards our dreams, they help us make that “dream” come true quickly.

In this blog, I am going to tell you the five steps that can help you fulfill almost any ambition that you have, and I will explain you each step with the help of 2 examples. But before that, let’s learn some things about dreams and goals.

Simply put, if life was a ladder, the individual steps can be seen as the goals, and the destination where the ladder takes you, can be seen as the dream or ambition.

Let me explain using 2 examples (and I will keep coming back to these two examples in each step).

Let’s say you are a college student (Amy), and getting a job in your favorite product based company is your dream, and for that, you might set the following goals —

  • Complete that book on interview preparation
  • Revise all the topics
  • Complete a course
  • Give mock-interviews

and so on…

Here, “getting the job” is your ambition, and the checkpoints “mock-interviews, book, course” are your goals.

Let’s say you are a Youtuber (Jimmy), and you wish to start a career in content creation. For that, you might set several goals —

  • 1 video every week
  • Getting feedback
  • Implementing actionable things from the feedback in your content

and so on…

Here, “having a successful career in content creation” is your dream, and the other checkpoints are the “goals”.

Hopefully, the concept of ambitions and goals would be clear by now. What I intended to portray just now was not only the difference between these two, but also the fact that —

To succeed, your goals must align with your dreams.

After all, you can’t become a professional Basketball player if you don’t include practice in your goals, can you?

Keep this point in mind, I will discuss more of this in the upcoming steps.

You are going to start a new life from after this section, all the best :)

Step 1: Recognize Priorities

Playing cricket in video games isn’t going to make you a cricket player in real life.

Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash

I often hear people saying they are working hard to achieve their dreams, and that’s really appreciable.

But the question arises, are you working hard in the right direction?

I bet every day you must be doing a lot of work, ranging from small household chores to big tasks in your to-do list, but how often do you ask yourself that “is the task that I am doing currently, taking me any close to my dreams?”

I have seen that most of us love being busy, after all, it gives us a sense of pleasure that we are working hard, and satisfaction that we are not wasting time.

But, are you actually differentiating between productive tasks and unproductive busy tasks?

If your aim is to become a programmer, but seeing others code, reading from books, and dreaming about a software engineering job is all you do, you aren’t going to make any good progress. If you want to become a coder, coding should be a priority for you.

The same thing is true for everything, once you have your dreams clear, ask yourself, what are the things that bring you closer to your dreams, and what are the things that make no difference.

Learn to identify the productive tasks, spend time on them.
Learn to identify the unproductive busy chores, get them done quickly.

Amy knows she wants to get the role of SDE (Software Development Engineer), and she also knows that to do so, she needs to be good at data structures, algorithms, problem-solving, and other core subjects.

But sadly, her college keeps on bombarding her with tons of assignments and exams.

Fortunately (unlike many), Amy has understood what should be her priority and has started taking action.

She plans to spend more time doing competitive programming, and less time on college assignments (of course, she doesn’t plan to ignore the assignments, but she knows she can get them done real quick).

Jimmy knows that if he wants to be a successful content creator, he needs to expand his reach over various social platforms.

Earlier, Jimmy has tried putting lots of content on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium, and YouTube.

Much to Jimmy’s surprise, the content on LinkedIn and YouTube gets much more engagement, and the content he puts on Twitter gets almost no engagement.

The reason might be anything, but this is a signal for Jimmy to start making more attention on LinkedIn and YouTube to scale his content (and later on, he can bring attention to his Twitter handle as well).

Amy knows her priority is learning the skills that can fetch her a job.
Jimmy knows his priority is putting more content on which platform

Knowing your priorities is the first step towards focused growth

Step 2: Set “SMART” Goals

Remember, it’s not just about setting goals, it’s about setting right goals, at the right time, in the right direction.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Now that you know your priorities, you can set effective goals, and one very effective technique for the same called “SMART”.

“SMART” basically means that your goals must be —

  1. Specific — Be clear with what you actually want, don’t lie to yourself
  2. Measurable — Devise your goals in such a way that you can track your progress with time
  3. Attainable — Set REALISTIC goals, don’t over-expect
  4. Relevant — Make sure your short term goals align with your long term vision
  5. Time-Based — Make sure to put some (feasible) deadlines

Here’s a small video about SMART goals —

Here’s a small technique that I follow -

  • At the start of each year, I roughly plan what all things I am going to do and what all skills I am going to learn this year
  • Now, I divide the year into 4 parts (or, quarters)
  • At the start of each quarter, I analyze how many goals was I able to accomplish in the previous quarter, and do they align with my goal for the year
  • Keeping this data in mind, I plan SMART goals for the next quarter.

This is a really effective way to plan your growth, and it works for your professional goals as well as your personal goals.

Now Amy knows her priorities, she knows that learning core subjects, practicing coding, and making projects is going to fetch her that job, so she makes a plan for the next 6 months (Jan to Jun 2021) —

  1. Complete the Coursera data structures and algorithms course by mid-Feb
  2. Spend 1 hour daily to practice coding questions/competitive programming
  3. Give 1 mock interview every weekend starting from March
  4. Learn web development from Udemy Bootcamp (Jan to mid-March)
  5. Start applying for jobs in March end/April start
  6. Create a full-stack web application as a side project in April
  7. Revise the core concepts in May
  8. Sit for interviews in June

And so on…

Here, every goal that she is planning, can be said, “SMART”.

Jimmy knows that he needs to level up his game on LinkedIn and YouTube, so he plans —

  1. One LinkedIn post every day
  2. One LinkedIn article every weekend
  3. Plan and record a YouTube series in Jan-Feb
  4. Start publishing weekly videos from March
  5. Start a weekly YouTube live from April

And so on…

Now Jimmy further divides the types of content he would be creating and lists down some ideas.

Now, both Amy and Jimmy have some actionable items to work on for the next 6 months, and they can say that they are moving towards fulfilling their dreams.

Step 3: Make a plan and set timelines

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Remember, ideas and goals without a plan of executions don’t succeed

Every battle is won before it is fought — Sun Tzu

For every goal that you have listed down in the previous step, create a roadmap of execution with clear timelines.

By doing so, you can plan your time effectively, otherwise, goals often tend to become overlooked dreams, and we procrastinate.

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
— Parkinson’s Law

In other words, we often tend to “whole” of the time to complete the task which we allocate to it.

So, it becomes absolutely essential to allocate the time properly, otherwise, the work will span indefinitely.

Amy created a roadmap for her tasks that she listed down in the previous step

Jimmy created a similar roadmap for his goals, plus he created a kanban for his YouTube videos

Step 4: Focus on goals

“Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Simply put, this is the stage of actual execution.

You know your priorities, you have actionable items, you also have a proper timeline and a roadmap, nothing is stopping you now,

  • go ahead,
  • lock yourself in your room for 1–2 hours,
  • focus on one thing at a time,
  • get it done,
  • take breaks,
  • enjoy,
  • come back,
  • focus on other task,
  • get it done, enjoy

Since it’s the actual execution phase, everyone has their own most productive time, where they are able to complete tasks efficiently, find yourself the undisturbed and undistracted hours, and get the daily todos done.

Step 5: Learn from the past, automate.

Remember, it’s not only about completing your tasks, it’s also about getting them done in lesser time, with greater quality.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

When you start working towards your goals, you will often find yourself doing some repetitive tasks, some unproductive tasks, and some things that you don’t like doing, but you have to do them in order to complete the task.

Always aim to complete tasks faster than before, with this mindset, you can save a lot of time.

Time is money

While doing any repetitive task, ask yourself

  • Can this be automated?
  • Can this be outsourced?
  • Do I have enough resources/finances to outsource it?

This (5th) step might not be for you if you are just getting started, but once you have set up the initial ground and planning to scale up, this would be very useful advice for you.

While scaling up, it’s essential to remember that we can’t do everything on our own, so, outsource or automate the unproductive tasks.

From our above examples, Amy is just a beginner, she is a college student preparing for job interviews, there isn’t much that she can automate/outsource, but Jimmy is planning to scale up his content, so this tip can prove to be absolutely essential for him.

Jimmy noticed that while making a YouTube video, it took him only (about) 5 hours to create content and record the video, but it took him another 5 hours to create a thumbnail and edit the video to make it ready for publishing.

Jimmy decided to hire a freelance designer and video editor to do that job for him, and by doing this he could reduce his content creation time to almost half, thereby publishing twice as much as content as he was doing before.

Amy and Jimmy were just examples, you can apply these 5 rules in any scenario you can think of.

That’s it, I hope you enjoyed this article and got to know some tips which will help you in your life.

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That’s it, thanks for reading till the end, I hope you liked the article. Do let me know how you implemented these techniques and if they helped you achieve your goals, would love to hear your experiences.

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