5 Steps to Focus On to Achieve Your Goals

by Stacey Curnow on · 28 comments

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." ~ Anatole France

I haven't read every personal development or self-realization book out there, but I suspect that every one of them has at least a chapter that's all about defining your dreams and focusing on what it takes to achieve them.

As Lewis Carroll said, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."  In other words, without focusing on a goal, it really doesn't matter what you do, or how hard you work at it.

It's funny, but in the past, I've only asked my clients to imagine their "ideal" lives one year out. But recently I've come to suspect that – as one of my clients (who has accomplished some really amazing things lately) so eloquently put it – you "need to think really big to get unstuck and expand into possibilities."

If you're ready to get moving, you need to focus on a goal. And if you want to move far and fast, it seems to help to have a really big goal. With that in mind, I'd like to offer five concrete steps you can take to put yourself firmly on the path to your dreams.

As it happens, I recently found three – and not in a personal development book either! It's a book on marketing: Double Double by Cameron Herold. Here are the steps:

1) Create your "Painted Picture": Describe in vivid detail your life three years from now. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? What does it look like? What do you do every day?"

Cameron described how a three-year vision challenges you to think "bigger". It makes sense that clearly imagining goals, down to the finest details, are essential to the process of achieving success for big brands, like Apple, but can you see how it would also benefit you?

The thing is, people rarely take this step. Again, as one of my clients realized, we're so focused on getting through our day-to-day lives that we have absolutely nothing to pull us into our best selves and our best lives. The Painted Picture creates the pulling power. And by giving you the space to dream really big, the pulling power is that much greater.

2) Share your big vision with anyone and everyone.

In the past I have written my Painted Picture (what I called Vision Statements) and shared them with my coach. I have encouraged my clients to write them and share them with me. But I have never imagined broadcasting them to a wide audience.

I imagined that by writing my Painted Picture I was doing all that was necessary to get the Universe to conspire on my behalf. I think Cameron is saying avoid the "middle man" and go directly to the people who, given a chance, are in the position to help.

Now that I've asked my clients to do this, I've seen amazing things happen. Ideas and support almost immediately manifest. Just today on the private forum for my group coaching program, a member posted a question and there were 4 immediate responses. She quickly wrote back, "Thank you all for your comments and solutions. I should have posted this sooner!"

I think we hold our dreams "close to our chest" because we feel self-conscious about sharing them. The "Who am I to want so much?" will surely come up. Only to be followed soon after by the thought, "What if I fail? I'll look like a loser." But I hope the above example will convince you that you have SO much more to gain by sharing your vision.

3) Focus on taking daily actions.

No way around it: You have to do something. I've written a lot about this topic before. Cameron also recommended Teamly.com as a fun and free way to keep track of your daily tasks related to your dreams.

4) Believe you can do it.

I've written a lot about this too. Thousands of words can be summed up by these 4: You. Can. Do. It. Repeat them to yourself often.

5) Celebrate your successes!

Often we finish one task or accomplish a goal and rush on to the next without acknowledging that what we just did was important and meaningful. So when you've achieved a goal or you're done with a task, find a way to celebrate, even if you only take a quick walk outside or drink a glass of water in a beautiful wine glass.

Celebrating your accomplishments helps cement them, and can make future tasks and big projects seem much easier.

What do you think of the list? Are you willing to do the steps? I know #2 on the list – broadcasting my dreams – gives me a great deal of anxiety. I'm sure it does for you too. When I shared this process with one of my clients, she audibly gasped.

But Cameron provided compelling evidence for the fact that it works. I'm willing to give it a try – so watch for me to publish my Painted Picture. (If I can effectively suppress the urge to go into a Witness Protection Program instead.)

by Stacey Curnow

Stacey is a purpose and success coach who helps you give birth to your BIG dreams. To find your purpose and passion, check out her FREE eBook, The Purpose and Passion Guidebook.
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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

The Vizier January 10, 2012 at 8:44 am

Hi Stacy,

Focus is vital to achieving anything or doing anything well. When we focus, we channel all our efforts in one direction like a finely honed laser. Few obstacles can stand up against the full might of our efforts. Few goals are unattainable if we give it our constant and undivided attention.

I enjoyed reading the steps you listed to focus on to achieve our goals. Here are some of my thoughts on them.

1. Create your “Painted Picture”

Indeed we need to be able to conceive the future which we want to have in order to make it a reality. If we cannot imagine it, how will we make it real? No doubt getting through day-to-day lives is necessary, but without a bigger goal in mind, we are just drifting along in a tunnel. So having this big painted picture is an important step to achieving our bigger goal.

3. Focus on taking daily actions

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step as Lao Zi wisely put it. Only through persistent effort will we be able to reach our goals. Of course if something is not working out for us, we should adapt and adjust our approach instead of plodding on in the same direction.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

Irving the Vizier
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Stacey January 10, 2012 at 9:32 am

Hi Irving!

Thanks so much for your kind note! It helps me so much to see what works for other people and I’m so glad to know the steps that resonated most for you.

I love how you took the quote from Lao Tzu and developed it into a powerful strategy: Yes, achieving your dreams and accomplishing your goals requires persistent effort *and* the ability to course-correct along the way.

Thanks again for sharing! (And I love your Avatar photo!)
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Doug Gene January 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for the inspiration, Stacey. I especially enjoyed the Carroll quote.


Stacey January 11, 2012 at 6:17 am

Hey Doug!

Thanks so much for letting me know you appreciate the post! And I’m especially delighted to know that you enjoyed the Carroll quote. I was just thinking about another one I love, and imagine you will, too:

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
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Doug Gene January 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I love it! You’re making me want to pull out my copy. I have a very old pressing actually. So fun!


Stacey January 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Ooh! I hope you do re-read it! Let me know if you do! And that’s so cool that you have an early copy! I’d love to see it!!
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Steven | The Emotion Machine January 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Good steps to focus on. Often if we see our goals “all the way through” – from start to completion – then we have a much better idea in our mind on how things will pan out as we start taking action.
Steven | The Emotion Machine´s Last Fabulous Post ..How to Overcome Awkward Phases of Self-ImprovementMy Profile


Stacey January 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Hey Steven!

Thanks so much for your comment!

Yes! Seeing my goals “all the way” and really getting to the “Why” I want to achieve them has helped me SO much! It’s amazing how much more “alive” they become when I put them through this process.
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Jannie Funster January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

That Stacey Curnow — she knows her stuff!! At least I’m assuming she does because this all makes such great sense.

The point about celebrating our little successes along the way is something to to celebrate indeed. I celebrate mine by drinking a beautiful wine in an ugly water glass. 🙂

And daily action — I do agree, even if it’s just 30 minutes (tho 2 hours is best if we’re serious about our Big Painted Picture,) we’re moving forward.

WONDERFUL article. Thanks. And please say hi to that Lance guy who flits about here from time to time. 🙂

xoxo to all.
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Stacey January 11, 2012 at 6:14 am

Hey Jannie!

Oh my goodness! I laughed out loud (and thought, “I want to party with this lady!”) when I read that you celebrate by drinking wine out of an ugly water glass!!

And you’re absolutely right about the necessity of carving out more time to devote to your dreams. When I think about goals I always try to identify a number of big chunks *and* baby steps that I need to achieve.

The baby steps I can do every day (making it daily makes it so much more likely that it’s going to happen and who doesn’t have 15 minutes in a day?) and the big chunks I reserve for once or twice a week.

Thanks SO much for your thoughtful and downright delightful reply, Jannie! It really is a pleasure to connect with Lance’s community (it’s the BEST!) and I plan to follow you to your blog (can’t wait to read Write a Poem — which I’ve never done — unless you count haiku!!). xx
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Jody - Fit at 54 January 11, 2012 at 8:15 am

Need this & loved it & will be using it! 🙂
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Stacey January 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

Hey Jody!

Thanks so much for letting me know this post resonated with you! I will be adding a picture of you “Fit at 54” to my Painted Picture!! You look AMAZING — and I know that body and the vitality you exude comes from setting some amazing goals and then achieving them!! BRAVO!!
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LorriePaige January 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Terrific words of wisdom–thanks for the inspiration.
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Stacey January 12, 2012 at 6:18 am

Hi LorriePaige!

Thanks SO much for your kind comment! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Lance has the BEST community on his blog!!
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David Stevens January 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Hi Stacey,
That’s what I do and get my clients to do…..it works! Thankyou for putting it out there.
be good to yourself
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Stacey January 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Hi David!

It’s always great to see you here (and on my Facebook page)! Thanks so much for letting me know you use this process with your clients and that it works for them, too. That’s SO awesome! We all benefit when we hear about what works for others.

All the best to you!
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David Stevens January 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm

…….and I love your ”paint the picture”…….I’m giving mine a touch up right now
be good to yourself
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Stacey January 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Hi again!!

Thanks so much for letting me know you love the idea of the painted picture! I’d love to “see” yours if you’d like to share!!
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J.D. Meier January 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Daily action is a powerful thing.

As a friend of mine puts it … “If it hurts, do it more.” His point was that if there’s a lot of friction, then the daily action will help you find ways to get past the humps and find ways to optimize and make it simpler … while building muscle memory, or at least chipping away at the stone.
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Stacey January 12, 2012 at 6:13 am

Hey J.D.!

Thanks so much for sharing your comment and your friend’s great insight!

It reminds me of something I heard about how cows will run away from a storm but buffaloes will run straight toward it — thus shortening the time they resist the storm or live in fear of it. One of my success mantras is “Be the buffalo.” 🙂
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Terie January 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I love everything about this post. I am a strong believer in goal setting but have been truly afraid of setting goals that go beyond our stay on one city or country. However, I do see great value in setting big goals and dreaming big. When I started to think bigger and further in time I immediately started to plan and organize some interesting thoughts in my head… all good of course. Thanks for the message and the reminder to go above and beyond our own expectations!
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Stacey January 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hi Terie!

Thanks so much for your kind comment! I LOVE hearing that you’ve already started to plan and organize some interesting thoughts in your head — I can’t WAIT to hear how they manifest! Please report back here and let us know! I *know* you are going to exceed some major expectations!!
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Betsy at Zen Mama January 15, 2012 at 9:12 am

Very well written Stacey! I love #3 especially. I find myself thinking in the future so much. Mindfulness is very important. Glad to have found your blog through Jungle of Life.
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Stacey January 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

Hi Betsy!

Thanks so much for your kind note! I’m so glad to know that step #3 resonated most with you. And I’m SO glad to have found your blog! I can’t wait to read about An Angel Visit! xx
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Jen January 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hi Stacey!
I enjoyed reading this post! I do similar work with my clients and I love what you said about putting out the vision for all to see!

It is a little intimidating, but also pushes one into taking more responsibility since they SHARED it with the world! Which leads to action and accountability.

I have found so much joy and (HARMONY) in celebrating those small accomplishments along the way to big dreams. We all need some reason to celebrate, daily, right???

Thanks for an excellent and engaging post!
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Stacey January 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Hi Jen!

Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m so glad to hear that you’ve used this process with your clients and found it helpful. Yes, I have definitely found that taking action *and* staying accountable is the secret sauce to achieving one’s dreams in record time.

I review my goals and the actions aligned with them every week and it creates a great opportunity to address what didn’t get done *and* celebrate my accomplishments. It really is so great when you realize you’ve achieved that HARMONY, isn’t it?!

Thanks again for sharing your enthusiasm for the process and this post! You made my day!
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Brain Vitamins January 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I love the quote at the beginning! That alone was enough to get me to read the entire article, and I’m glad I did. I think step 3 is extremely important- taking daily action. It’s easy to make up a long term goal, but this goal will never be achieved without taking small steps on a daily basis. You’re never going to wake up one day and find that your huge goal has been accomplished, unless you have been taking the small steps each day.
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Stacey January 28, 2012 at 7:10 am

Hi Brain Vitamins! (I love your online name and will be checking out your blog for sure!)

Thanks so much for letting me know that you also love the Anatole France quote and my post.

More and more as I look at my own process and coach my clients, I realize the big difference between people who achieve their dreams and those who do not is the ability to take the next step even if (especially if!) they don’t see the whole path that leads to the achievement of them.

So many of us don’t even get started without the guarantee of success, but it seems that being okay with the uncertainty of it all is the sure-fire predictor of success. At least that’s been my experience.

Thanks again for your kind comment!
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