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The behavioural difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t.

The behavioural difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’tThere are many factors that contribute to whether someone achieves their goals or not. The reasons can be many, varied and unique to each individual.

However, there is a common and key behavioural difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t.

Knowing what that behavioural trait is and how it relates to you could be the difference between you getting the results you most want to achieve, or your goals remaining out of reach.

Here is what the trait is, how to assess how much of it you have and what to do to develop that trait to improve your chances of achieving your goals.

People who achieve their goals are always playing the long game. People who don’t achieve their goals are often playing the short game.

Here is what I mean by that.

The people who achieve their goals consistently are those people who make decisions, choices and take actions in the present that will achieve their ultimate goal. They do not make choices that sabotage their ultimate goal for the sake of instant gratification or because it feels more comfortable or the easyier option in the moment.

People playing the short game are those who make choices, decisions and take actions that might give them instant gratification and feel easier and more comfortable in the short term but sabotage their ultimate goal in the long term.

For example, say you have a goal of getting fit and healthy.

If you are playing the long game you get out there doing your exercise even when it is cold and wet. You don’t make excuses. You don’t let yourself off the hook. You have the end game in mind and know that trumps instant gratification or what feels easiest and most comfortable in the moment. You know staying in the warmth, or eating that bag of chips as you binge watch Netflix won’t get you to where you want to be.

On the other hand, let’s look at a person with the same goal, but is playing the short game. They put instant gratification and what feels easiest and most comfortable in the moment before the goal they really want to achieve. They give their exercise a miss because it is cold and wet outside. They have a bad day so console themselves by munching through a massive bag of chips while binge watching Netflix.

But the bottom line is this:

Playing the long game is what it takes to achieve your goals. Playing the short game will sabotage your efforts and keep you stuck.

Which game are you playing?

In each moment, you have the option to make the choices, decisions and take the actions that will keep you on the path toward achieving your goals, or keep you peddling the same old hamster wheel. Which will you choose?

Take a few minutes to think about the goals you most want to achieve in your life and work. Assess the evidence. Do your choices, decisions and actions reflect someone who is playing the long game, or do they reflect someone who opts for instant gratification and short term thinking?

What needs to happen for you to start playing the long game? It is important to work that out, because it could be the difference between achieving your goals or not.

You can get on the path to playing the long game by identifying things like what habits you need to foster, boundaries you need to put in place and what changes you need to make to set yourself up to succeed. Get clear on how you are sabotaging yourself and put things in place to address that. Get an accountability buddy or a coach to help you develop behavioural habits that will support you in achieving your goals.

When you have completed that assessment then create an action plan to turn those things into your new reality and to set yourself up to succeed.

The difference between achieving your goals or not could lie in whether you play the short game or the long game.

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  • Ali, this is a very good reminder. Like so many people it wasn’t until I was told I was a “pre-diabetic” that I started a plan and stayed with it. It is hard but necessary.

    Thank you.

  • Kymberly

    Good point and makes me realize I play the short game with one key goal and a back and forth one with another. Time to put some focus on my long game.

  • Barbara, I agree it is often very hard to do, but always worthwhile.So pleased for you that you were able to get yourself on the right track.

  • It is great that you have that awareness. Wishing you well as you focus more on your long game. Onwards and upwards!

  • Estelle Sobel Erasmus

    So true. I try to remember about the long game when I get frustrated in pursuit of my goals.

  • The long game definitely requires patience!!!

  • It’s so easy to play the short game. I’d be curious to know what you use to remind yourself of the long game on a daily basis! Thanks!

  • I have a process I use and that I teach to my clients that shows them how to get on track and stay on track with the long game and how to avoid the pitfalls of getting sucked into the short game.

  • Ali, I love this! It’s so clear when you think about it. Achieving your goals depends on whether you play the short or the long game!

  • I like the question, “Will this action move me forward towards my goal?” If yes, do it. If no, move on.

  • Great question and approach.

  • Yes indeed. Being away of that and proactively putting things in place to set ourselves up to succeed makes a big difference