How To Achieve Your Goals – 10 Mental Strategies

Kauai beauty

This is me in Kauai, Hawaii. One of my goals is to travel… frequently!

1) Start. Even if you think the first effort is going to go poorly. You will improve in time through experience, but you won’t get any experience if you don’t start. The worst thing you can do is try to perfect yourself before attempting. Getting everything right is not as important as making progress.

2) Move forward frequently, at all costs. When you pause, you’ll think about why you’ve paused. You might question your desire to complete the goal, because when you’re doing something important, pausing without a strong reason is madness. But if you dedicate yourself to daily progress, you’ll maintain or build your momentum until you’ve finished the goal.

3) Be hungry to see your goal accomplished. Apathy is a ruthless goal killer. Prevent apathy by frequently reminding yourself why you’re pursuing this goal. Focus on the benefits, but remind yourself that you’ll never see those benefits without effort.

4) Do not over or underthink your goals. Overthinking goals is when you think about the different ways you could take action instead of taking action. Underthinking is when you do meaningless work or make progress in a direction that doesn’t matter. Aim for a balanced approach of preparation and action. Choose a basic plan you think might work and execute. Uncertainty is only a problem for people who lack confidence.

log man

I don’t know what this guy’s goal is, but he is clearly succeeding.

5) Don’t overemphasize the high or low moments of your goal pursuit. When you’re feeling euphoric, you might be better off calm, while steadily chipping away at your target. When you feel there is no hope left, there most certainly is. A balanced emotional state always leads to better progress. Though if you must choose between the two, I’d go with euphoria. 😉

6) Pick the right goal. If you’ve chosen the wrong goal, you’ll have great difficulty completing it. It’s hard enough to accomplish goals you are passionate (or care) about, so a half-dedicated stance won’t work. Take the time to think through your life plans and desired direction to figure out what the best goal is for you right now.

7) Be mentally prepared for setbacks and adversity. They will happen and they’re good for you. Pursuing a goal is one of the best ways to learn persistence, an invaluable life trait. Overcoming adversity is one of the most satisfying feelings you’ll ever experience. The only thing you need to do to be prepared for adversity is to expect it. If you anticipate problems, they won’t surprise you into regression.

8) Anticipate the consequences of success. If you build a successful company, it could mean you’ll have to work long hours and hire and manage employees to scale your business with demand. Every positive change includes downsides. Winning the lottery means your family and friends might start seeing you as their shot at financial freedom. New friends might want your wealth more than your friendship. Yikes. Plan ahead for the new challenges that may come with success and you’ll be better equipped to handle them.

9) Temper your expectations. People tend to glorify the idea of success – if I could only get $1 million… if I could just become famous… Reality can’t compare to a romanticized image.

I just got back from 12 days in Italy – Venice and Rome. It was an amazing experience, but my vision didn’t include mild food poisoning and getting my phone stolen. Since I had the right mindset, these setbacks were pretty minor in my eyes. On my trip to San Francisco earlier this year, I got sick with a fever for three of the ten days. I still had a wonderful time.

In both cases, I was living my goal of traveling the world, but no romanticized image could capture the unexpected highs and lows of each trip. While I believe in setting high expectations for yourself, it’s best to set expectations low for the things you can’t control – the rest of the world!

Life won’t be exactly what you’d expect if you accomplish your goals and your wildest dreams, but it can certainly get better than the present! Look at success with honest, realistic eyes, not romantic ones. Start with number 8 (knowing the consequences of success), and finish with an understanding that happiness is contentment.

10) Don’t Live Someone Else’s Dream. We are constantly being yapped at, by advice, stories, media, opinions, society, and expectations. It can be difficult to hear your own voice in the midst of the chaos. Learn to identify and trust in what YOU want by imagining your life without doubt, expectations, and intimidating barriers. The things you’d do in a world without barriers are the things you should pursue despite the barriers.

Introspection is rarely done in our world of infinite distractions. Be one of the ones who does it.

11) Don’t obsess with finding tricks and secrets. Getting yourself going in the right direction involves a lot of trial and error. It does involve some technique though, and mindset matters, which is what Deep Existence is for. But even after reading the ultimate secret to getting beach abs, guess what? Your abs still won’t look great unless you take action, which is why the number one tip for goals it to start. After you start, you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.

And if you fail, start over with a new strategy. There’s no limit on failure that I know of. Go ahead and fail a thousand times to succeed once. It still counts.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.


Number 7 is scary to me because I wish momentum and success can go on forever. Of course, plateaus and minor setback are just a part of life. I think George Leonard’s “Mastery” is a good source for getting over these plateaus.


I guess great minds think alike. This is the third post I’ve read in less than 24 hours encouraging readers to go for their goals. One was on Carol Tice’s site, called, “Create Your Best Freelance Marketing Plan in 6 Easy Steps.” The other on Ramit Sethi’s, is called, “How an MIT postdoc writes 3 books, a PhD defense, and 6+ peer-reviewed papers — and finishes by 5:30pm.”

And now this post reminds me to keep it real. Hmm, I can take the hint…just sat down now to make a list and concrete plan on how to achieve all the stuff I want to get done. Thanks for the reminder.


I like number 2 – moving forward frequently at all costs, taking one small step towards your goal daily. It’s very much like practicing a musical instrument. You practice everyday, making incremental progress all the time. Gradually you get better.

Stephen Guise

It’s weird when you first notice that things can and do go wrong, but freeing in a way when you embrace it. That book looks very interesting. I may pick it up. Thanks Vincent!

Stephen Guise

Haha, that must be a sign!

Your comment reminds me that I left out the whole “write stuff down” and planning part of goal-seeking, but in this article I was focused on the mindset of goal achievement. I think the title was off, so I tweaked it a little.

You started! And you’ve got a plan. That’s huge progress! Your goals are now in the process of being completed. Before someone takes the time to do that, goals are merely ideas.

Stephen Guise

I like number two very much also. The filling in between starting a goal and finishing a goal is made of pure progress. Forward progress may seem insignificant at times, but even the smallest step forward brings you closer, and that matters. Goals are only in danger when progress stops.


I say bring on the struggles. Just bring ’em right the hell on. Because accomplishment means nothing without the struggle. What’s success really mean if you’ve never had to overcome a damn thing?

Challenge is what makes achievement worthwhile. It’s the only thing.

So I say go for it — and welcome the difficulties. No, you won’t enjoy them. But know that only resistance builds strength. Without the tough times, you would only be a weak shadow of yourself. It’s the struggle that builds character. The hard path.

And like you say Stephen, life rarely goes according to plan. That’s because it’s life, not some fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. It’s real. To expect anything else is pure self-delusion.

Excellent post Stephen. Good honest advice here. And I love the picture from Kauai. I went there when I was a kid and loved every minute of it. Gotta get back one of these days.



I like the article the way it is – it’s what finally inspired me to sit down and get going. If I’d read an article detailing all that I need to do, I probably would have felt like it’s too much work (since I wasn’t yet “committed” to creating a plan).

BTW- I’m using the free version of Simpleology to carry through on my plans- I highly recommend it.

P.S. I love that social ocean thing you have there. It’s pretty neat.

Stephen Guise

I agree with your sentiment on struggles and difficulties. I like to view it as a battle and say “bring it on.” It works better than acting like a wounded animal when the smallest obstacle comes. It’s easier to be a wounded animal than a juggernaut, but in hindsight everyone would rather be the juggernaut.

“…only resistance builds strength.”

That is a great insight connecting life and exercise. I like it.

Kauai is so nice (and beautiful). I’d like to go back sometime. They have a laid back, simple lifestyle unlike the much of the USA.

Stephen Guise

Thank you, that’s great!

Simpleology has an appealing name, I’ll check it out.

Thanks about the social ocean. I saw the same share buttons everywhere with no creativity and I wanted to make the sharing process a little bit more interesting and fun. 🙂

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