The simple secret to achieving your goals


I recently wrote a recent post on the simple secret to creating new habits.

For those who missed it, or are too lazy to read it, here is the quick one-line summary: change your wants to wills.

It really is simple. If you have decided that you will create a new habit, then it is decided. In the last post, I decided that a blog post will get published each day. So today, there is no doubt about it. I procrastinated until the end of the day (again!), but now I am writing and it this post will get published.

Today I’m writing about the simple secret to achieving your goals.

Guess what? Same answer. For the same reason 🙂

Now don’t go about setting ridiculous goals. You aren’t going to fly like Superman tomorrow. But in general, the simple trick holds true.

I could just end the post here, but I’ll finish up with two stories.

1. Grad school and the publication bean count.

I entered grad school with the dream of ending up as a professor. I did all my background research and came to the conclusion that most professors at reputable schools had finished their PhD with 2-3 top-tier conference papers. I figured that since I was at the University of Colorado (which wasn’t a Stanford or M.I.T.) it might help to up that count. So, I made it my goal to graduate with 3-4 top-tier conference papers.

I’ll spare you the montage of all of my hard work. But, surprise, surprise.. at the end of my PhD, I accomplished my goal. I came out with 4.5 top-tier papers (one was a short paper), and was in a perfect position to go after faculty jobs!

Why did it happen? Because it was decided and I did everything under my control to make it happen.

(There is much more to the story, and I’ll write about it some day.)

2. The California State track meet.

I high school, I was a track & field junky. I did sprints and jumps, and specialized in the triple jump (I used to have some hops as a kid). My senior year, I decided that I was going to make the California State meet.

Again, I’ll spare the montage, but I was super hardcore with workouts everyday, and 2-4 hours in the weight room after workouts.

Top 3 in each section would go to state and in the sectional semi-finals, I had placed 3rd! In prior invitational meets, I had placed as high as 2nd. That means technically, there was a good chance I would go to state.

Unfortunately, the day of the sectional final, I had a bad day. The bad day, coupled with the flaring up of a prior injury (I got plantar fasciitis during the season), turned into a 5th place result.


Sorry, I lied. You won’t always achieve your goals.

Still, you might get pretty damn far. And I believe that I did. Hey look, I once was one of the top 100 triple jumps ever within the section. I also was MVP. (And now, I’m reminiscing about those good ol days.)

Even though I didn’t reach the goal, I’m proud of all the hard work that I put in. Building a hard work ethic always pays off, as it did when I decided to work hard in graduate school and get those publications.

Anyways, the message is the same.

You may not always achieve your goals, but you’ll put yourself in the best position to achieve them if you change your wants to wills, believe in yourself deep in your core, and then act like it.

Like the classic video below, you got to want it like you want to breath.

P.S. This is post number #20 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Check out my current project Soulmix, your daily mix of food for the soul. Request an invite now for free access to the public beta!

One thought on “The simple secret to achieving your goals

  1. How goals can be limiting: or, how I failed myself by achieving a goal | Alex Shye

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