Big, bold goals, whether personal or professional, are necessary if you want to realize your full potential. But it’s not enough to just set goals. Intentionality is required to reach the desired results.
How do the ultra-high achievers do it?
As part of my research, I spent quality time with multiple world record holders who each had set multiple world records. Being first, fastest, or the only person on earth to achieve something requires serious intentionality. I wanted to understand what gives these world record setters superpowers when everyone else falls short.
You may not aspire to set a world record. But there’s still much we can learn from these overachievers.
Multiple world record holders rigorously practice intentionality—this is the source of their superpower. The practice of intentionality involves being deliberate and purposeful with your time. Why is this so powerful? Because your biggest, boldest aspirations won’t magically, accidentally materialize.
It takes relentless intentionality to get where you want to go. As a result, overachievers develop goals that govern every aspect of their lives.
SET UP FOR SUCCESS
Multiple record holders also excel in creating the conditions to succeed.
Any supersized aspiration requires stamina for the long run. When the going gets tough, how will you persevere? Create compelling conviction, a determination to get to the finish line. World record holders, my research finds, focus not just on the what and the how and the when of a goal, but also on the why. Why is this goal important? What’s the upside and downside to success or failure?
The secret sauce to any compelling goal is authenticity—how it resonates with your values and priorities.
Setting up for success also involves a practical dimension. Superachievers write down their goals, and make these written goals visible. Adrian Hayes, the British adventurer who established two world records, takes his goals wherever he goes—even on the side of K2. “When you write down goals,” he confidently told me, “they come true.”
THINK BIG, ACT SMALL
Tackling any big goal can be intimidating, even paralyzing. Inertia is a powerful force to overcome. World-class achievers understand that the best way to conquer any large goal is to think big and act small. In other words, visualize and then incrementalize.
Visualization pictures in vivid detail what success looks like. Visualization, however, is more nuanced than just imagining the rainbow on the horizon. It anticipates potential obstacles and how to mitigate them. Visualization conceptualizes the process for achieving your goal.
After visualizing the intended outcome, then reverse engineer. Work backward from your endpoint to determine intermediate milestones that bridge the present with the intended outcome. This transforms a daunting goal into something more manageable and achievable.
Here’s a real-world example. Moonshots are rare, radical breakthroughs that inspire awe when they succeed. However, incremental advancement drives the most significant progress. Putting a man on the moon—the very definition of a moonshot—is a case study in visualization and incrementalism. JFK provided the vision, and NASA developed a series of incremental advancements, which we know as the Apollo program, that culminated with that giant leap for mankind.
GET INTO ACTION
The way to begin any audacious ambition is to mimic an infant learning to walk. To start on anything big, whether it’s turbocharging your finances, landing a dream job, or making more time for the people who matter, take a baby step that you can accomplish in a few hours. Focus entirely on hitting that first milestone.
With your second step, you begin to create momentum. But willpower alone will most likely not get you to the promised land. Activate some specific techniques to maintain momentum. These could include adding an accountability partner; creating reminders and visual cues; aiming for consistency, not perfection; and getting some gratification along the way.
CULTIVATE A SUPERPOWER
Intentionality is a superpower that can be cultivated using these techniques. The practice of rigorous, religious intentionality can be a potent and transformational force: You’ll be more present, purposeful, focused, energized, engaged, happy, and fully invested in life.
Todd Miller, Work-Life Evangelist and Author, ENRICH: Create Wealth in Time, Money, and Meaning