5 Surefire Ways to Achieve Your Goals (Even If You’ve Been Procrastinating)

So, we’re now more than halfway through 2016. How are you doing on your goals?

Don’t feel bad if you’re not as far as you would like, but do read on so you can finish the year off strong. First, a reminder: Whether you vow to get a new job, start a business, write a book, save money or get fit, one thing is for sure, says Carlota Zimmerman, New York City life coach known as The Creativity Yenta.

“If you’re trying anything new — big or small — the only thing you can be sure of is that if you make excuses, nothing will happen,” Zimmerman told Money Talks News. “And if you wait for everything to be perfect, well, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.”

Zimmerman, now 42, became a produced playwright at age 18, worked in network television news in Moscow, New York City and Washington, D.C., and launched her life-coaching practice in 2008 after gaining a law degree from Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. She’s also conducted workshops for artists, attorneys and even stay-at-home moms who are learning social media to return to the workforce.

Her clients are ages 18 to 84 and live from Queens, New York, to Queensland, Australia. They work as everything from artists to White House staff.

These are her five top tips for achieving whatever you set out to do:

1. Just get started

“You have to start before you’re ready,” Zimmerman said. “It’s just that simple and that terrifying. But you must start today.”

Starting can be easy. Commit just 15 minutes a day to doing one positive action to further your goals. “Set the timer in your iPhone. Achieving this one goal will keep you moving forward so you can achieve all of your other goals.”

Where are you going to get those 15 minutes?

“Time yourself how long you spend scrolling Facebook, where you see friends post their perfect, Photoshop lives.” If you can spend hours there, you can spend 15 minutes on your goals.

If you’re job hunting, tweak your LinkedIn profile, join your college alumni association, research the people who work where you want to work or jobs similar to those you’re seeking. Hone your elevator pitch, that 45-second spiel that will make someone remember you.

If you’re trying to save money, work on a budget or set up a money tracker — such as this one offered by Money Talks News’ partner PowerWallet.

2. Just try

Don’t worry about success, Zimmerman says. Many of her clients, especially millennials, are afraid to take their first steps after college to start lives of their own.

One of those clients — just after graduating summa cum laude from Wellesley College — set her sights on getting a job at Google. Despite working on her cover letter and application, and learning code, she didn’t make it. However, now she works in finance. It’s not the end of the world if a particular job doesn’t work out, Zimmerman said. “The point is to understand you have power.”

If something doesn’t work out, learn to move on and try something else.

3. Use what you have to build what you need

“It’s going to take tremendous work to bring your bright bubble of a dream to life,” Zimmerman says.

Start an action diary, which can be a plain piece of paper, a Google doc or an app. Write down your goal as concretely as possible. You could say, “I want a new job by September,” or you could state exactly what job you want, how much money to save, or what kind of business to start.

You can then write out bullet points on how to achieve your goal.

If it’s a job, list people you know in the industry and what steps you need to take to win a position; if it’s saving money, you could list your income and spending habits and then bullet points on what you need to do to save a certain amount by a specific date; if it’s starting a business, list the resources you’ll need.

(For some electronic help balancing your project with the rest of life, read “15 Apps to Totally Organize Your Life.”)

List why you want to achieve your goal.

Spend time preparing, and you may find you know more than you think.

“One of my favorite quotes is from former Czech political playwright and prisoner Vaclav Havel, who went on to become that country’s president,” Zimmerman says. “He once said, ‘The more we did, the more we were able to do.'”

4. Seek your own approval

Many people have been conditioned to doubt themselves and think less of the opportunities ahead of them and more of all the previous times their efforts have failed, Zimmerman says. “Instead of forgiving themselves for past mistakes, and choosing to learn from them, they beat themselves up. Don’t do this. The world will beat you up just fine. You don’t need to help it.”

Zimmerman recalls visiting the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, where she stared in awe at a display of the author’s many rejection letters.

“He kept writing. He knew he was good.”

Perhaps best-known for his novel “Slaughterhouse Five,” Vonnegut’s 50-year career included 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays and five works of nonfiction.

5. Do more, worry less

Some goal setters, especially millennials, want assurances that everything will work out before they’re willing to take their first steps, Zimmerman says. But this is life, not a one-hour TV drama or 90-minute movie in which everything works out by the end.

“You will make mistakes; you will have your heart broken,” she cautions. But if you don’t work at your goal, you’ll never achieve it.

Just get started.

What do you want to achieve by the end of the year? What’s your strategy for success? Share with us in comments or on our Facebook page.

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