A lofty goal is any highly challenging goal that requires significant dedication to accomplish. They’re the kind of goals that are exciting to work on. They push you out of your comfort zone and help you grow. That’s why it’s crucial that you know how to achieve lofty goals.
There are three major steps to take to accomplish your biggest goals in life:
- Set the right goals and a timeline for each
- Break your lofty goals down into yearly, quarterly, weekly, and daily action items
- Act on your plan and don’t quit until you’ve accomplished your lofty goal
Reaching your lofty goals brings an incredible sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. But you have to be precise in your plan and when taking action if you want to succeed.
That’s why it’s important to not take a lot of steps to reach your lofty goals but instead go deep on just these few steps that will help you win.
If you want to learn more about what lofty goals are, check out this post.
Let’s dive right in!
1. Establish Your Lofty Goal
“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become.” — John Ruskin
To discover your lofty goals, start by asking yourself a few questions:
- What have you always wanted to accomplish but never set aside the time to do?
- What would you do if you had more time?
- Which goals do you want to accomplish before your life is complete?
- What goal, when thinking of going for it, makes you feel excited and a little scared?
To refine your search even further, generate a list of your top 25 goals in life. Go even further by thinking of a few big goals within each of the four pillars of life:
I wrote more about these pillars of life and how to find your goals in each of them in this article if you want to learn more.
When you’ve got some ideas, narrow them down to just one in each of the four pillars. This will allow you to do better work and reach your lofty goals faster.
It’s crucial that you carefully choose these goals. If you set extrinsic goals, or goals that everybody else wants you to have, the journey will be harder and less fulfilling.
Instead, focus on making your lofty goals intrinsically motivating, or the kind of goals that you enjoy working on just for the sake of it. You’ll find it easier to keep going when the path gets difficult because the process will be more enjoyable to you.
Here are a few examples of lofty goals you might set in each area of life to get you started:
- Mindset: become less opinionated, develop the ability to think of others before yourself, become more positive
- Relationships: get married, have kids, become best friends with each of your kids, get a new friend group
- Finances: double your income, receive a huge promotion, start your own business
- Fitness: run a marathon, lose 15% body fat, complete a triathlon
2. Break Your Lofty Goal Down Into Yearly, Quarterly, Weekly, and Daily Steps
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Now that you have your lofty goals, you probably feel a little overwhelmed. Well, this next step will help you feel like it’s possible by breaking it down into smaller pieces.
The big mistake that people who don’t achieve their goals make is that they set them and then only think about how far they have to go. They have no system or plan. They aimlessly wander and never get where they want to go.
But if you can focus only on the step in front of you, you’ll reach your lofty goal. So how do you focus on that next step?
The key is to have a plan and break it down into these four levels:
Your yearly, quarterly, and weekly components are the outcomes that you get by working on your daily action items, which is the most important part of this step.
That’s because if you act, you’ll reach your weekly outcomes. And by hitting your weekly outcomes, you can meet your quarterly goals. Doing that leads to your yearly milestones, which is what lets you finally complete your lofty goal.
The most important step here is action, which we’ll get to more in a moment. For now, though, to find the action steps that will lead you to your outcomes, ask The ONE Thing question from Gary Keller:
“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier even unnecessary?”
You might not have the perfect outcomes set, but if you have the right action steps, you’ll reach your lofty goals every time.
And even if you don’t get it quite right the first time, review your goals weekly and adjust.
An Example of Breaking Down a Lofty Goal
At each step, you divide the goal into the number of years, quarters, weeks, or days at that level. For example, if I wasn’t very fit and wanted to run a marathon in two years:
- My first year’s yearly goal would be to run a half marathon, or 13.1 miles so I could run a full marathon by the end of year two.
- I’d need to then prepare to be able to run a full marathon in four quarters. Dividing that up I’d need to be able to run about 3 ¼ miles more per quarter. So 3.25 miles in the first quarter, then 6.5, then 9.75, and finally, 13.1.
- For the first quarter, the goal is to be able to run 3.25 miles without stopping. The quarter has 12 weeks in it to work on your goal if you take one rest week, so that’s only about a quarter of a mile you need to add to your longest run each week. So week one would be ¼ mile, then it would be ½ mile, then ¾, and so on until you get to 3.25.
- Your daily action steps would be running and weight training so that you could reach your ¼ mile extra by the end of the week.
So in summary:
- Yearly: run 13.1 miles
- Quarterly: run an extra 3.25 miles (quarter 1 = 3.25, quarter 2 = 6.5, etc.)
- Weekly: run an extra ¼ mile than the previous week
- Daily: run or weight train
It’s that simple! And remember, if you’re not reaching your outcomes, change your action steps. If it’s hard to do your action steps, adjust them.
And if you start to feel like you’ve set an unrealistic goal, just increase your timeline.
3. Act on Your Plan and Stay Consistent to See Success
“Good planning without good working is nothing.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Have you ever been walking down a sidewalk and tripped because the concrete in one place was unexpectedly higher than everywhere else?
This can happen because the sidewalk has been raised by a tree root running underneath it. Which seems like a minor thing, but there’s a major life lesson in it that will help you reach your lofty goals.
If you take a tree root and hit it against the sidewalk, the root does nothing to the sidewalk. No matter how hard you swing or what angle you take.
But when the root grows slowly, for a long time, underneath the sidewalk, this clearly “weaker” material has the ability to break the strong concrete above it.
Your lofty goals are like concrete and you are the tree root.
Try to bash yourself against your big goals without a plan or direction and you’ll do nothing to them.
But by acting slowly, deliberately, and consistently for a long period of time, you’ll achieve even the wildest goals you can imagine.
That’s why action is the most important step. You must do everything you can to make sure that you keep acting in the same direction for a long time until that goal breaks down and you win.
There are a lot of ways to help yourself be consistent. The best I’ve found is to practice discipline and courage. It will get hard. You will have tough days where you’re tired, bored, lonely, sad, or feeling like it’s not working.
Those are the most important days to keep going though because they help you build the habit of striking to it. And if you can train yourself to be the kind of person who acts anyway, you’ll accomplish the unimaginable.
My Favorite Way to Practice Discipline When Working on Lofty Goals
A fantastic way to systematize your efforts to discipline yourself is to take on a personal growth challenge.
Just recently I took one on in the form of what’s known as 75 Hard. You can learn all about it here. The idea is that you stick to five critical tasks for 75 days straight.
And if you miss just one task, you have to start over.
By day 7 it’s really tough. But you’ve got a streak going and you know you’ll be done if you give up. So what happens is you stick to your tasks even when it’s midnight and you’re on a business trip and you still have a 45-minute workout to do.
75 Hard gives you specific critical tasks. But you can do your own personal growth challenge by picking a few of your own critical tasks to complete each day then committing to a number of days in a row you’ll do it.
And why not pick the action steps that you’ve established for your lofty goals?
I’m doing this right now and I’ve committed to five of my own tasks based around my goals for 12 weeks, or 84 days straight. I’ve had some difficult days in the last few weeks, but I’ve kept my commitment because I want to maintain the streak.
The trick is that you make the question “will I do my action steps or not?” irrelevant because you’ve got the habit to keep you going. You anticipate the difficulty and prepare for it and by doing so, you’re ready to win no matter what comes your way.
A personal growth challenge is my favorite way to help me stick to my goals. But here are a few other tactics to help you take advantage of the power of consistency:
- Avoid distractions that tempt you to take shortcuts or change the process.
- Set a dedicated time to work on your goal every day
- Utilizing the 20-second rule, which is to make sure that you can start working on your goals in 20 seconds or less
- Watch motivational videos about discipline
- Improve your mindset and ability to believe that you can achieve great things
Do whatever you must to keep yourself going. Consistency will win in the end. Even when you don’t see results, feel bored, are tired, or have any other challenge come up.
In summary, here are the three steps to achieve lofty goals:
- Set your lofty goals, with one in each of the main pillars of life.
- Break each lofty goal down into yearly, quarterly, weekly, and daily milestones and action steps.
- Do whatever it takes to act on your plan to unlock the power of consistency.