It’s All About the Follow-Through: Turning Goal-Setting into Goal-Achieving

A pro golfer doesn’t halt his stroke as soon as he launches the ball into the air.

A major leaguer doesn’t stop his swing as soon as the bat hits the ball. He follows through and finishes his swing.

Without following through, each of their actions would be useless.

Setting goals is worthless without the follow-through.

That’s what transforms those objectives into reality.

When it comes to your goals — personal or business-related — these three major components of the goal-achieving process will help you hit a home run. 

1. Goal Tracking

No large goal is accomplished in one step. There are many small goals you must achieve to reach the big ones. This makes it important to organize and then track your ambitions. Think about what you can accomplish this month that will put you on the track toward a yearly goal. Break that monthly goal down into weekly goals and weekly goals into daily goals. This layout creates a clear roadmap for success. 

Once you have your map, figure out a way to keep track of your progress. Being able to see how far you’ve come is extremely motivating. I love the app Lift, which allows you to set goals and check in daily to see their progress visually. There’s also a social element that allows others to encourage you as you make progress — or hold you accountable.

2. Accountability

If you’re serious about your goals, accountability is key. Once a month, I get together with three friends; we sit around the table, pour ourselves a nice drink, and report on the successes and failures of the last month. They help me evaluate my status and adjust my goals if they were too lofty or too lax. The excitement of sharing my progress with them makes me want to push myself even more.

Find at least one other person you trust, and set up a monthly meeting with him or her. It’s extraordinarily helpful to have regular opportunities to discuss realistic expectations, and the consistent support is priceless.

If you can’t find someone who can meet with you, it’s still helpful to do some mass sharing. When you publicly declare that you’re going to do something, you’re more likely to follow through. Create a blog that documents your progress or simply let family, employees, or work friends know what you hope to accomplish. Spreading the word makes you feel more responsible for your progress.

3. Visuals

One of the most efficient ways to understand concepts is through visuals. Our brains process images differently than things such as lists and bullet points. When dealing with a process of goal-achieving, images can help us remember our status and where we need to improve. Images offer a quick, clear display of how we’re doing.

Visuals also provide one more quality — they’re fun! Some goals take a while to accomplish, so you might as well enjoy the process. Having a visual display can keep you more positive, which helps your motivation. Plus, you can show your friends how far along you are, and you can get other people on board more easily. This is especially good if your goals involve a team, such as your employees or family.

A great example of this can be found in the big thermometers nonprofits color with red marker as they get closer to their fundraising goals. They clearly represent an organization’s progress. If your goal isn’t a dollar amount, you could glue pictures that represent steps toward your goal on a piece of poster board. Whatever you do, make it meaningful and fun.

I love setting goals; they’re what move me forward in my life and work. But whether or not you share my New Year’s Eve habit of jotting down the lofty goals in store for the coming year, the fact remains that goals are useless without a solid follow-through strategy. So swing for the fences, but don’t stop until you hit it out of the park.

Written on 7/15/2013 by John T. Meyer. John T. Meyer is the co-founder and CEO of Lemon.ly, a visual marketing firm that specializes in infographics, data visualization, and UI/UX design. Always sweet, never sour, its mission is to make the world an easier place to understand. John also publishes Point Letter, a daily email newsletter about focus. Connect with John on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Keith Davenport

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