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How to Achieve Your Goals in Life

Updated on May 29, 2017
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok shares inspiration and discusses methods of improving life, learned from his studies of social behavior and personal experience.

Think back. Did you have a goal early in life that you seem to have neglected? Do you know why you ignored it?

  1. Either you are not planning ahead and just letting things happen.
  2. Or you're allowing some other deeply hidden feeling to control your decisions.

I started to wonder why at times I would life bring me whatever may come along, and at other times I would focus on making things happen. Therefore, I studied the psychology of this problem in order to understand it. The solution is as easy as taking it one step at a time.

Goals in life can be achieve one step at a time.
Goals in life can be achieve one step at a time. | Source

We Need to Understand What's Important

It's possible that some things are not as important to us, but we don't realize it and we keep thinking about it anyway. This constant dwelling on things we think we want, but that we never work at achieving, only uses up our mental energy.

It's much more satisfying to be totally clear with what we want. We know what our dreams are. But there is one thing that may be hidden from our conscious mind. We may have a fear of our destiny.

We may also have some confusion in our minds because the desire to do something and the need to do it, are two different things.

So there are three issues that cause trouble:

  1. The fear of the outcome
  2. The desire to do something
  3. The actual need to do something

The Difference Between Needs and Desires

If we could stay better in touch with our needs, recognize why they're important to us, and appreciate them for what they are, then we would have more control over our destiny by consciously putting the right pieces of our life together.

When I discuss these things with friends, some of them tell me that it’s fate, and they have no control over it. I think it's no accident that things turn out the way they do. We are always making choices. Either a choice to do something, or a choice to procrastinate. Yes, that is a choice!

When you get in touch with this concept, you'll probably admit to yourself that the rings you procrastinate on are things that are not that important to you anyway. Maybe it's time to let go of those goals because they're not that real for you.

In my case, I've noticed that I always put effort into achieving goals that lead to my needs. My desires, on the other hand, got less attention.

That lack of effort means one thing, that I probably was happy with things as they were. If something is absolutely necessary for a comfortable life, it's a need. That’s an important point to understand.

  • Our needs are mandatory. We can't live without them.
  • Our desires are things we want, but not life-threatening to be without.

What Can Stand in the Way of Success?

When a friend tells me that they want to make things better in their life, and I show them what they need to do to make it happen, they come up with all sorts of reasons why not to do it. Then later when things get worse for them, they complain about it.

They are in denial. They blame their life situation on other things. They refuse to take responsibility for controlling their own destiny.

They feel that life is what it is. They blame it on other things. They claim they are born into it.

I won’t argue with that. For there are realistic situations where people simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or born into the wrong environment.

But for the sake of this discussion, I am referring to people who are lucky to be in the right place at the right time, born into the right family, or however you want to express it.

They are able and willing. Well, maybe just able.

So what about you? Sure, there’s a chance things will go your way even if you do nothing about it. And sometimes coincidences happen and we end up being very lucky. But our destiny can be adjusted by our own actions.

I know. I’ve done it. Although, I have to admit, I procrastinate too. But at least I've come to appreciate the fact that those are the things that are not as important to me.

Do You Really Want Things Strong Enough to Make It Happen?

We usually never stop to think and analyze where we are in life with respect to what our dreams had always been. We have busy lives and time has a way of passing us by.

If we feel that something is missing and our dreams are unfulfilled, we need to put a little effort into analyzing where we're going with our lives.

It takes some time, though, to sit and think about it. But once we get in touch with our feelings, and our present reality comes more into focus, we can start to do something about changing what's missing.

We're really in control of our own lives.
We're really in control of our own lives. | Source

My theory is that when things don't turn out as we think we want, it may very well be because we don't want those things strong enough to work at it. It's simply not that important to us. And if we think it is, we're in denial.

Give yourself credit for those accomplishments you have indeed achieved. They are real because you truly really wanted them. You worked at them and you made them happen.

Forget about those things that are simply not happening. Can you finally admit to yourself that they are not that important to you? If they were, you would have gotten into gear by now, putting your energy towards making them a reality.

Why We Repeat Certain Patterns

I just explained my theory why some things never happen, but what about things that do happen in our life that we really don’t like? More importantly, things that we keep repeating and that become a theme of our “life story.”

If you find this happening in your life, don’t be too hard on yourself. There is a good reason for it, and it may have something to do with a painful event in your past that you don’t even remember, an event that is hidden from your conscious mind.

We may never discover the things that happened in our past that set the stage of where we are now, but if we acknowledge that everything we are today is a result of our past experiences then it will help us focus and move forward.

We tend to dismiss thoughts that are confusing. Maybe because we think that they’re not relevant, or maybe because we are in denial of our past life stories. Painful memories may block our ability to proceed. Our ego is trying to dismiss the problem stemming from cause and effect.

Our ego does not allow us to see the links between early-life events, and how we are functioning now. Our past experiences may haunt us. What complicates things even more is that there may very well be multiple events strung along in our lives that don’t seem to be connected.

When we become aware of these things, we can make an effort at looking back and finding various things that happened before that still have a strong influence on us today.

How Our Past Affects Our Future

Our lives are divided into three time periods.

  1. The past that is full of memories, good and bad.
  2. The present that we have control over at the moment.
  3. The future that we can create with proper goal setting.

If you could live your life over again, with the understanding that you will experience it exactly as you had the first time, would you want to do that?

Our thoughts of our past affects how we live our lives today and how happy, or sad, we are. If one had a miserable life then he or she would most likely not want to repeat it.

If we are not happy with our past, one would think we would be more motivated to change our future.

I think it's unquestionable that anyone who was not happy with his or her life so far would have no desire to repeat it. However, there are many people who repeat their mistakes hoping to make it work the next time.

They just redo whatever failed. They choose similar partners if a prior marriage failed, they repeat the same business instead of trying something new, and they make the same investments even though they lost money the first time.

Would you want to relive those bad times, those hurtful times, those painful times? We need to understand our past and know what we did wrong. But we shouldn’t want to repeat it! An old Cherokee Indian Proverb states, "Don't let yesterday use up too much of today." To me that proverb means not to repeat more and more of your “yesterdays.”

There will always be bad days where we have made mistakes and irrational decisions. But we need to gain knowledge of the driving force that causes us to subconsciously have a desire to repeat unpleasant past experiences.

We are not going to make changes unless we stop repeating the old nonsense and start enjoying life. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best...

Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Source

I became aware of how the decisions I make today are based on my past and I came up with these five thoughts...

  1. Don’t dismiss the past, accept it and learn from it. Then do something about it.
  2. Notice when we are wasting energy worrying about things. Focus on positive growth.
  3. Pay attention when we hesitate to do something because we feel we will fail.
  4. Discover when we procrastinate and come to terms with the reason for it.
  5. Instead of blaming the world, or other people, for our limitations, do something about it.

Achieving Goals One Day at a Time

The past has no effect on life anymore except in a way that we let it affect us. The way we process our feelings is based on our past. We can change how the past affects us by changing the way we think about it and thereby enhancing our future.

Our past makes us function as we do because we learned certain behavior from our past experiences. But the past no longer exists and we are wasting precious energy and time thinking about it.

If we feel we need to start over, there’s no need to go back to do it. We can start over from anywhere. From right here is a good place to start achieving our goals for the future we desire.

Our future is the most powerful thing we have! You can’t buy it for any amount of money. And yet, it’s being given to us for free! Every moment of every day, a little bit more of our future unravels itself.

You’ll never know when, suddenly, you say or do something that changes the course of your entire future. The next step into the future is constantly happening. Just as Abraham Lincoln once said...

Quote by Abraham Lincoln
Quote by Abraham Lincoln | Source

Setting goals and working to achieve them is a daily affair. If we waste our energy thinking of the past, worrying about how the past affected us, then we won’t have any energy left to move forward with positive results.

  • If you just live in the past you will never grow.
  • If you live for the moment you will never mature.
  • If you live in the future alone, you are dreaming.

By allowing yourself to be aware of what you can achieve in the future, you will make the best use of the present.

My favorite quote is that of an American historian and author, Alice Morse Earle, who wrote...

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present.”

Your future is beginning right now.

© 2012 Glenn Stok


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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Jo_Goldsmith11, Well, actually I have not been so good at that as you say. I have let ships pass in the past, and I regret it now. This is one reason why I write about these types of things, with hopes of saving someone else from making similar mistakes. I try to reflect on how I missed certain opportunities and look for ways to improve myself going forward, so as to still achieve goals that are not yet met. It's never too late. The best time to start is "now." Thanks for your kind words and for your vote up.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 5 years ago

      You are so right in every thought you have perfectly written here. I have saved this and will reflect on it when I have the doubts that sometimes come into my life. It appears you are not letting any ship pass you by. Good for you! I shared and a definite vote up! Thank you for this useful, awesome and interesting piece of art. :)

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY


      That is a very enlightening comment that you made and I thank you for that addition. I actually never gave thought to that concept. That over controlling our lives can interfere with being open to new ideas. 

      Not controlling our lives at all is definitely a bad thing. But over controlling is clearly bad too, as you had indicated. 

      We definitely need to have an open mind to new paths and concepts that may come along. So keeping a middle ground on our control is very important.

      I'm glad you like my concept of crossroads. You added an additional thought to my idea however. And that is that the crossroads may bring us to a better path than we had before. I like that. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Always good to see you around.

    • Sue B. profile image

      Sue B. 5 years ago


      I really liked this hub. I too ponder these things!

      I find myself in a situation now where I am making important decisions and what you wrote really spoke to me. I tend to be the person looking for a new way to move closer to my goal. I think it takes a lot of patience and perseverance not to give up.

      Your hub made me think about the thoughts I have had about determining our own destiny versus over-controlling our lives. Realizing you have more power over your life is great but too much of something is usually a bad thing. You describe people who have let go of their controls and gave up their power. The flip side is the person over-controlling their lives and not allowing new paths and new options they did not originally think of to unfold.

      I like what you wrote about the crossroads to get back on the path you want. What I find interesting is sometimes this crossroads, or alternate route, that brings you back to the original goal may even be a better way to get you to where you want to be.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Jim, Thanks for being the first to read this. I found your analogy of a creature of habit very interesting. That sure is another way of explaining what I was getting at.

      You are also right with your last statement. I am grateful for what I have. And as I mentioned in the Hub, there are people born into the wrong environment. They are not so lucky. That really means that the rest of us have no excuse for procrastinating. Thanks for your insight.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi Glenn:

      You brought out some very useful, as well as interesting points in your article.

      Some of us are very lucky, but I do not always believe in luck either.

      As you said we could have been brought up in a family that had given us everything from the start, or possibly we were even born with a silver spoon in our mouth, so to speak.

      But in actuality we achieve and accomplish our goals right from the beginning with a little hardwork.

      Human beings are somewhat like cats. If you compare someone who takes one road in life, they may always stay on that same road and never accomplish anything. They in turn like that cat, may be a creature of habit.

      Many people including myself at times tend to be procrastinators, but again, not all of the time. You get what I'm talking about.

      So if there is a chance for us to go back and to choose that other path, at the crossroads you were speaking about, we than may indeed find the a golden opportunity, that we may have missed on the first road we ventured down.

      Somehow when I further read over your article, it sounds almost as if you are trying to convince yourself about things you did right along the way, or didn't do right!

      But what it really boils down for all of us is. We should be very happy and grateful for what we do have.

      Many people throughout the world are not so fortunate as we all are. Nevertheless very useful and interesting information. Thanks for an enjoyable read.