Entrepreneurship and the Architecture of Success: Setting Smart Long-Term Goals

We all have big dreams. Some of us bigger dreams than others.

We all at one point in our life have had something grand we wanted to accomplish. However, I’ve found that oftentimes our dreams are so big that we don’t even believe we can accomplish them ourselves, let alone have anyone else believe in us.

But if you know how to effectively set long-term goals with that big picture in mind, you can change the way you look at and think about those big dreams, giving you not only a more effective path for accomplishing them but also shifting the mind to believe it’s possible, a critical aspect of accomplishing anything.

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You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.

– Mark Victor Hansen

By ‘architecture of success’ I’m referring to methodically setting your long-term goals. It’s about reverse engineering that great dream into chunks that not only make it more believable but easier to accomplish.

But it needs to be done in a very specific way. If not, it just doesn’t work.

So, how do you do it? Let’s break down the steps. Keep in mind, though, that this assumes you already know what your dream or big goal is. If you don’t, then your first step should be to take some time to get clear on what you want to do with your life, including what your passion is, and what your why is.

Break down your big goal into chunks

First, envision your big goal like many great entrepreneurs have before you: like a giant step ladder which needs to be constructed piece-by-piece over a long period time. This is not only a more effective method for accomplishing your goals in general, it helps us overcome one of our biggest hurdles: ourselves.

If your goal is to build and open a school, grow a multi-billion dollar company, or create a global initiative of some kind, it can be hard figuring out where to start, especially given the fact that you undoubtedly have that voice over your head saying, “you’ll never do this! Are you kidding me? You? Build that? You’re no one!”

These are the kinds of things we tell ourselves when we attempt to dream big. The problem is the goal is so big, and it’s so hard to imagine how we’d ever get there, that our mind immediately retracts and begins discouraging us to protect us from what it believes is inevitable pain.

So, in order to overcome our negative self-talk, we need to structure our big dream in a way that it becomes more believable. You can’t make your big goal any smaller, but what you can do is break that goal up into smaller chunks and then connect them to one another, like you’re building a set of steps.

Take some time to think about what the major components of your long-term goal are. Is one a particular type of knowledge? Funding? Connections? Maybe all of the above? The idea is that with all of the necessary materials put together you’d be in a position to take hold of your dream today, so what are you missing that you’ll need to reliably do that?

Start building

Think of your big dream as a set of steps.

Each of these major pieces that make up your long-term goal is a step you’ve built using basic materials (like hard work, knowledge, connections). And once you’ve built all of the necessary steps you can reach your goal. But these steps have to be constructed individually, one-by-one, the way a carpenter would build them and piece them together.

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If your goal is to create some sort of global initiative that fights for a cause in several different countries, knowledge of how nonprofits operate might be that first step you have to build. Maybe you go to school to learn about that or maybe you learn about it on your own. Either way, this may be the first step you need to begin construction.


If that’s the case, take this sub-goal and isolate it. Make it your focus for however long you deem necessary. Will it take two years to go to school to learn about how to run your own nonprofit? Make this your focus for now and hone in on it while maintaining a constant awareness of your long-term vision so you never lose sight (a vision board is great for this).

Put it all together

The great part about this method is everything builds on top of itself. Once you have the knowledge of how nonprofits work, maybe you decide you need experience running a small nonprofit so you learn the ins-and-outs (and so you get any big mistakes out of the way now that could affect building your long-term goal of this global initiative later).

So, you use that knowledge to start and run a small nonprofit in your local community. But it’s that first step of educating yourself that allowed you to move on to that next step and to do it in the most effective way possible (also really important– don’t rush yourself).

From there, perhaps, traveling to various countries and learning about how nonprofits work there is your next step, so you take a year or two traveling around and learning all about that using the connections you made with that small nonprofit to connect with other global nonprofits. From there, you continue to build, one step on top of another, until you look back and see just far you’ve travelled.

Big goals can be intimidating. But with the right system for breaking that big goal down, gathering the materials, and constructing each piece individually you can not only make that big goal or dream more believable, you increase the likelihood of you reaching that goal tenfold.

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