Setting and achieving goals – using discipline to achieve success

It’s almost a ritual. Just in time for the beginning of the year, I’ll make a list. In this list are all my goals for the coming year. I see many people around me who do the same. Some pursue their goals with iron. Some give up their good intentions after a short time. So the key to success is not only the goal. Rather it is a matter of implementing the defined goals in a disciplined manner. What I do for a disciplined implementation and how you too can set and achieve goals, you will learn about achieving goals in this article.

A look into the past

Let’s rewind a year. A year ago, I set myself a big goal. I wanted to secure my freelance job with additional passive income. I laid the foundation stone a year earlier. I drew “just-for-fun” 50 icons or pictograms and put them on a portal for sale. After a few weeks I received the first revenues. At first it was only a few Euros.

My thinking: If just 50 icons would yield a few Euros, how much would 500, 1,000 or 10,000 icons yield? I could easily calculate that 10,000 icons could generate a decent passive income. But from 50 icons to 10,000 icons is a huge step! Meanwhile there are a lot more of them, as you can see on But how did I manage to realize such a big goal?

1. Clearly define the goal

Each defined goal must meet five requirements. You can find out more about this in my article “Defining goals with the SMART method“.

Each letter in “SMART” represents a requirement for the target definition. I.e. each defined target should be

  • S = specific
  • M = measurable
  • A = attainable
  • R = relevant
  • T = time based

I formulated my goal at the beginning of the year. It was: 12,000 icons by 31.12. Although the target formulation is very short, it contains all elements of the SMART method.

2. Divide the goal into stages

At the beginning, big goals stand before me like a huge mountain. Maybe you feel the same way. That’s why I divide all my goals into several stages. In the example of my icons this was very simple. I had 50 icons at the beginning of the year. I wanted 12,000 at the end of the year. That means if I draw 1,000 icons every month, I will reach my goal. 1,000 icons per month can then be converted to icons per day. And the indomitable giant looks like a dwarf.

3. Maintain course

In order to be able to set and achieve goals, it is important for me to note the progress made. I do this regularly. It strengthens my discipline and motivation. For this purpose I create a simple table. In this table I compare the target and actual state with each other. Of course, a simple piece of paper does the same. But for several goals I find a table more practical. I call up this table once a day. In this way I regularly check my progress. A captain has to check regularly if his ship is on course to reach the port of destination safely and without detours. I do the same with my destinations.

4. Develop routine

Routines play an important role for the disciplined implementation of goals. Fixed times and standardized work processes help me considerably in building up momentum. Mostly I draw the icons in the early morning or late evening. During this time I am less often put out of my flow by phone calls, mails etc. It is also part of my routine to plan my workflow the evening before. This way I can start the new day directly without having to deal with my daily planning first.

5. Dreaming

No. No great goals can be achieved while sleeping. But my discipline is based to a large extent on imagining the final scenario. What does it look like when I have achieved a big goal? What does it feel like? In the case of my icons and the associated passive income, I imagined waking up in the morning. I take a look at my smartphone and see that overnight (without doing anything) new income has been added. What can I afford from the additional income? What unpleasant work can I do without in the future thanks to the passive income. The more colourful and vividly I paint out my dreams and visions, the easier it is to realize them.

Set and achieve goals

Also this year there is a lot to do for me. In order to set and achieve my goals, I will once again apply the five points mentioned above. Last year it worked out very well. How do you go about achieving your goals? I look forward to your comments and would like to close this topic with a small quote.

The aimless one suffers his fate – the purposeful one shapes it.

(Immanuel Kant)

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