Learning how to set ambitious goals, create a game plan for how I was going to achieve them, and then work ridiculously hard to achieve those goals has completely transformed my life.

There is something I have to get off my chest, though. Setting goals is not enough. A lot of people set goals and just stop there. There is a big difference between setting goals and achieving them. If you write your goals down on a piece of paper, then put that paper away and never do anything more, you’ve wasted your time. You may temporarily feel good, but setting goals doesn’t guarantee you will actually achieve them.

Many organizations and individuals get extremely frustrated when it comes time to set goals for their organizations or personal lives. It takes an enormous amount of energy and time, and the results are often below average. When done correctly, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

I want to share with you a process that I have been using for well over a decade now that has helped me to achieve almost every major goal that I ever set. This is a simple process that works extremely well if you are willing to take action and put in the work.

How to Achieve Your Biggest Goals: The Process

The first step of the process is to set a stopwatch or the timer on your phone for four minutes. This will encourage you to write your goals down quickly and not think about all the challenges that you will encounter along the way. For most of us, the second we think about a major goal that we would like to achieve, we immediately start to worry and second guess our ability. Don’t worry about four minutes not being enough time. You can go through this exercise as many times as you would like. When I perform this exercise, it can take me up to two weeks until I have a solid list of goals for the year.

There will be roadblocks and plenty of challenges to consider, but don’t worry about those things right now. Just focus on writing down the goals that are in your heart.

After you set a timer for four minutes, write eight to ten goals that you want to achieve by this time next year. It’s good to have some balance on your list. For example, maybe you have two health goals, a fitness goal, two business goals, a few personal goals, and a family or charitable goal. How you divide your list is totally up to you.

The Game-Changer

After you set your eight to ten goals, identify the one goal on your list that has the potential to completely change your life if you were to achieve it. This goal is called the game-changer. When I first did this exercise, I was sixteen years old and a recovering drug addict who was desperate to create a bigger future for myself. I knew that the only way for me to do that at the time was to get a Division I college scholarship for football. If I were to achieve this one goal, it would serve as a domino effect for every other goal that I had on my list.

After you have identified your game-changer goal, the next step of the process is what separates those who achieve their goals from those who just set goals. Write down 25 to 50 things that you need to do in order to achieve your major goal. Most people will set goals without ever thinking about what needs to happen in order for them to achieve them.

Your favorite sports team doesn’t just have the goal of winning a championship and never think about what steps they need to take in order to be crowned champions. They know exactly what needs to take place on a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis in order for them to be in a position to accomplish their major team goal. Individual goals are then assigned and developed with that major team goal in mind. We, as individuals, need to implement that same approach into our personal and professional lives if we want goal-setting to actually be worth our time.

The Final Step

After you have completed your action plan of everything that you need to do in order to achieve your game-changer goal, start transferring one to two items a day onto your daily task list. This is the goal-setting process that has benefited my life in so many ways. It’s important to note that you will still experience many challenges and bumps in the road, but the most important thing is that you have a detailed game plan of what you need to do on a daily basis and keep moving forward. The most successful people in the world aren’t necessarily more talented than the next person; they just possess a relentless mindset that nothing will stop them from getting to where they want to go.

If you are a leader, I highly encourage you to ask your direct reports to go through this exercise and ask them to share their goals with you. Your job as a leader is to keep a running file of the goals of your people. What can you do throughout the year to help your people create a plan on how to achieve these goals? How can you take their individual goals and tie them to the greater organizational objectives? The leaders that can effectively do this not only experience greater employee engagement, but their people are filled with positive energy and enthusiasm. The act of setting goals is important, but committing to how to achieve these goals is even more important.