How To Set Goals When You’re Stuck

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You need to set a goal before you can figure out how to achieve it. There’s something magical called reverse engineering. There’s a book, Psycho-Cybernautics, that says if you let your brain imagine something, and if you imagine it well enough, you’re able to understand all of the pieces that went into getting you there. You’re brain is smart, and it doesn’t like to make illogical leaps. 

Think about what you need if you take one process step backwards from the goal. If your goal is that you want to make $319 this week, then you need to be talking to at least one person who can afford $319, 10 people who can afford $32, or 100 people who can afford $3.20. Figure out which of those is the best for you. Let’s say you decide on the second option, 10 people who can afford $32. 

You now have a different problem. You have to alert your audience to something that is worth $32 to them. In order to do that, you have to know who they are, you have to know how you would show them this value, and you have to be able to promote the value to them. 

You’ve taken the $319 problem, and through two layers of abstractions, you’ve created tasks that need to be done. You need to know who they are. You need to know how they get information. You need to know what you’re offering them, and you need to know how you’re going to get that information in front of them. You’ve taken that singular goal and turned it into four buckets. Accomplishing each one of those goals has another set of smaller incremental steps behind it. 

You’ve reverse engineered the goal. You’ve gone from the goal, to one step before the goal, to one step before before the goal, to one step before before before the goal. Keep on stepping backwards until today, and then if you have done this carefully and thoughtfully, you’ve actually just reversed engineered the way that you are going to accomplish the goal. Once you do this several times, you’re going to be able to say, “I need to create awareness, which means I need to create some content. I’ve got to create a landing page. I’ve got to get some advertising going, and I’ve got to get an intro discussion script put together. That’s really as complicated as it is. You start with the goal, and you work backwards. 

That’s how you set smart, measurable tasks.

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