How to Set Goals, and Achieve Them.

Draw a circle, not a line.

Tony Krol
6 min readSep 13, 2023

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Often times many people hear the phrase: You fail to plan, you plan to fail.

As helpful as that is — I think it should be changed to:

“If you fail to LEARN how to plan. Life will teach you how to plan, however long that takes.”

Failing to plan is not the issue, everyone plans in the best way they know how.

Different goals require different levels of planning. Say your goal is to get up at 5:30am every morning and exercise, to create the OUTCOME of generating a new habit in your life. The first step, most people would think is “set an alarm” second step is to “determine an exercise routine,” just as an example. However, the FIRST STEP of any new goal, no matter what it is, IS MUCH MORE COMPLEX than “Setting an Alarm” — the first step isn’t even the action.

Finding Purpose:

Here is a breakdown: The purpose of the above goal is to create a new habit, (there may be many OTHER goals attached to that one, so you definitely have to get the first step of the first goal right, or everything following will be out of balance.) So the first step in reaching a new goal is not the ACTION, it is detailing out the REASON or purpose.

Individual goals, backgrounds, and personal experiences vary, all shaped by rapid development for survival and conquering. The ongoing battle is within ourselves, as this unique aspect of human nature codes us for achievement, survival, and conquest.

This unique aspect of human nature is great, but we actually have to LEARN how to use this to our advantage. Because we rapidly learn and advance, it creates a false sense of comfort and can allow us to settle for mediocracy. This creates a false sense of confidence when trying to achieve a “massive goal,” which so many humans actually want to do.

In many cases what we want out of life is unique. Anew carved lane, it’s not a path of least resistance. In some cases personal drive for the overall outcome outweighs the drive for determining the desired outcome of the very FIRST STEP.

You must detail out the very first step, and then the second one, and the third and so on, but that is actually not how we are even taught to talk about GOALS, think about them, or set them.

Here’s why: We are asked when we are young: What do you want to be when you grow up. “Airplane Pilot, President, Fire Fighter, Attorney.”

(Ok, great second grade teacher, that was helpful…)

Then we get this idea in our heads that what we “want” can just “happen.” Where was the course on goal setting? Creating personal reward? Adopting a growth mindset? Laying out the steps… in elementary school? Wouldn’t we all be better at looking at each individual step if we were taught a process? (I personally, was never taught a process for setting, achieving and reaching a goal in my life, I had to learn it all on my own, as most of us do.)

We are taught through religious conditioning and parenting, and in school (especially in America) through all positive words of encouragement: “You can be anything you want to be, you have the power to do everything you put your mind to. God will answer all of your prayers.

We are taught that there is a magic solution to our goals, and if we keep persisting they will manifest. Ok, but most often, we aren’t taught how to persist, where to direct energy, what steps to map out. Where to point our compass.

Here is the reality: There are people in this world whose will, drive, and desires outweigh their immediate skillset, and this is probably most of us. They will grasp forever if they do not address their weaknesses. They cannot identify their weaknesses if they do not have a clear plan. They cannot create a clear plan — if they don’t know how to start or have never really examined the steps. Goal achievment is a systematic approach, it is a science, like baking.

If one doesn’t know how to craft a recipe for their desires this creates an endless loop of “big goal…” … “tiny vague actions” … ruminating on the goal… Thinking of the goal, becoming obsessed with the goal. Feeling overwhelmed. Then starts the victim mentality. “This isn’t working, why doesn’t anyone help? (did you clearly ask for the right help?)” “God doesn’t answer MY prayers.. FU GOD!” … then depression, and ultimately quitting.

Recently I’ve been having conversations about goal setting and planning with VERY SUCCESSFUL and high achieving individuals, and this seems to be the scientific pattern:

Steps to Failure:

  • Step One: Set Goal: become attached to the OUTCOME
  • Step Two: All happiness, joy, bliss in one’s life weighs on this OUTCOME
  • Step Three: Perpetual Failure.

These steps create a line. This is a linear approach. You start at one point, try to get to the end point. You attach every reason, action, and emotion to the end point. It doesn’t work.

There is not ONE outcome in goal setting. There are many. In fact, in a large goal, the reality is you may never get to the end point, but if you adapt an approach that places focus on the steps rather than the outcome, it won’t matter. Success is inevitable. This is the very first problem to address. Our brains are wired so hard that we can achieve anything. Our brains jump to that achievement and become obsessed. We place all of our happiness on that obsession and become depressed when we aren’t getting there. So here are the steps for success, there are many more than for failure obviously.

Steps for success, they do not create a line if drawn out, they create a cycle, or circle.

Steps for Success:

  • Step One: Set Goal: Determine the MAJOR OUTCOME (write the headline you want to see manifest.)
  • Step Two: Determine the REASON for the OUTCOME
  • Step Three: IMAGINE what it would feel like to achieve the OUTCOME.
  • Step Four: Take OWNERSHIP of the OUTCOME. This is important, this is YOUR outcome, no one else’s. Nobody is coming to save you, not even GOD. You have to do the work, there is absolutely no way around this.
  • Step Five: Determine the very first ACTION STEP of the MAJOR OUTCOME (or headling you’d like to see manifest). Write down the step, write down a detailed plan to execute the step.
  • Step Six: Start back at Step One. And repeat these steps for every “ACTION STEP” toward the goal. Treat every single step from this point as the Major OUTCOME (write smaller headlines for each step).
  • Step Seven: Develop a reward system for completing steps. At first this may need to be developed, but after completing steps and making progress, our biology produces “good feeling chemicals” that will keep us going in the right direction, but this may not happen until a few steps down the road.

Now, there is an emotional connection to the major outcome, and and an emotional connection to the steps. With this method, each step becomes just as important as the outcome. You set up a reward system for completing steps (generally this is where “GOD” comes in, the Universe sees what you are doing, and rewards you accordingly after completing each step with vigor, but what we see as “GOD” is really a dump of good feeling chemicals that flood our body and being (dopamine).

Major achievements require major changes in thinking.

1) You cannot be a victim, everything you do is your own fault.
2) You must adapt a growth mindset. Meaning you are responsible for doing the research, and learning new skills that are required for each step.

If a major goal is a group effort. It is absolutely required that Everyone in the group is drawing a circle with their responsibilities and has a growth mindset.

The tools for completing goals:

  • Journaling
  • A planner, and even AI assisted productivity apps such as Motion
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Fasting and sticking to a specific diet
  • Talk about your goals (not so much with Intellectual Property) but find people to hold you accountable, and surround yourself with them.

If you like this article, see my others on becoming a good person, starting Meditation, and symbolism and identity.

This article was written 100% withouth AI.

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Tony Krol

Artist, muralist, and owner of Mergeculture Gallery in Tampa Florida. I write about connection between art and spirituality.