For many, goal-setting can feel like a daunting process.

You want to be sure that whatever you’re working towards is measurable, impactful, and challenging enough to keep you on your toes. Trouble is, the planning process is only half the battle. 

When it actually comes time to achieve said goal, it’s easy for things to fall apart. Think back to those New Year’s resolutions you set. Does the phrase grossly overestimated come to mind?

NBA legend Bill Walton, knows the intricacies of both setting and achieving goals all too well. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he was coached by one of the best coaches in history — John Wooden — who was committed to helping him succeed both on and off the court. 

On this week’s episode of The Growth Show, we sat down with Walton to learn more about how Wooden’s influence helped him devise a process for successfully tackling even his most ambitious goals.

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How to Hit Your Ambitious Goals: A 5-Step Process

While there are plenty of strategies out there for setting goals, the process of actually hitting those goals can seem like a much more ambiguous path. How do we solidify the path to then hit our goals?

“Ask somebody who is on their way back,” suggests Walton.

Walton is on his way back, so we asked him on your behalf. Let’s take a look at his process below. 

Step 1: Define Your Goal

What’s the key to getting started? “Have a dream,” Walton told us. 

When you have a dream in mind, it becomes much easier to define a measurable goal — or set of goals — to get you there. Once you have a defined goal, you can use it to determine where to devote your focus and what to prioritize. 

Need help defining your goal? This free goal-setting template should make it a bit easier. 

Step 2: Get a Mentor

The next step? “Choose a teacher, a leader, or a coach,” suggests Walton. 

Even the most successful leaders have had mentors along the way. And the words of the ideal mentor will resonate years beyond their physical presence. In fact, if they’ve done their due diligence, you should walk away from the relationship with a toolbox full of lessons to carry with you. 

The hard part? Finding the right person. When searching for a trusted advisor, you want to look for someone who has achieved something that you can learn from. While it’s possible that this person might be a peer, mentors tend to be senior to their mentees. 

If you’re having trouble determining what to look for in a mentor, check out this post on mentorship tips from my colleague Lindsay. 

Step 3: Assemble or Join a Team

Ready to tackle the third step? Walton says you need to, “Join a team and immerse yourself in [that] positive culture.”

Creating a team gives you the advantage of approaching your goal with a diverse perspective. For example, I played on a collegiate hockey team and one of our biggest strengths was knowing how to leverage our unique skills to perform as a strong, cohesive unit.

This type of approach allows everyone to bring something different to the table while encouraging each individual to expand their perspective. Besides the individual growth value, you will be able to hit your goal faster.

Need advice on putting together a team? Here’s a free kit to help you build your inbound team.

Step 4: Sharpen Your Foundation

By now, you’re on the right track. To keep moving forward, Walton suggests that you, “Develop the individual foundation — assuming and understanding that the strength of the team is the strength of the individual.”

In other words, now that you have reinforcement to help you accomplish your goal, you need to leverage it. But this doesn’t mean that you should delegate every task on your own plate. In fact, you’ll benefit from keeping busy yourself: According to Yerkes Dodson Law, increased mental arousal can help you improve your performance.

Instead, lean on your teammates to help you sharpen your breadth of skills. Try to soak up bits of knowledge from each of their areas of expertise to help you devise a well-rounded plan for accomplishing your goal.

Step 5: Be Prepared to Sacrifice and Self-Discipline

Walton’s final tip? “Have the willingness to sacrifice and discipline.”

This one may fall under the category of easier said than done. It can be difficult to get yourself in the zone — especially if it’s 3 p.m. on a Friday — but this is where you can save yourself some serious time. The better you are at finding your “flow,” the easier it will be to enter that space when you need it most.

The other half of this is being comfortable saying “no.” No to leaving work early, no to taking on that extra project, and no to staying up late to watch Netflix. Trust me, learning how and when to say “no” will save you a ton of time and energy. 

The lesson? Define not only your goal, but also the path to achieve said goal. And as you build out that path, don’t hesitate to look for opportunities to pick up support from mentors or teammates — it’ll make all the difference. 

Want more advice on how to hit your goals? Check out the rest of our conversation with Walton on The Growth Show on iTunes.

(P.S. Don’t hesitate to leave a review! We are always looking to hear from listeners.)

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