A Psychologist’s Extremely Practical Guide to Achieving Your Goals

10 research-backed strategies for building a specific future

Benjamin Hardy, PhD
Forge
Published in
11 min readApr 29, 2020

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Image: Gapingvoid Culture Walls™. Used with permission.

Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust. From his perspective, there was one reason why: He was able to maintain a sense of purpose. As he wrote in his vital memoir Man’s Search for Meaning, those in the concentration camps who lost a sense of hope quickly decayed, while those who saw a future beyond their circumstances were able to be much more resilient. In his quest to choose his own way amid the suffering, Frankl referred back to Friedrich Nietzsche, who said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Without a specific future to strive for, we can’t grow. But as an organizational psychologist who studies how to break free from self-limiting beliefs, I have seen what happens when people commit to a bigger future. They’re able to convert their experiences — even painful ones — into learning, growth, and change. Rather than living within narrow confines, they begin embracing uncertainty. Their past stops predicting their personality and behavior, and instead, their future takes the lead.

Let me be clear: No matter what confines you’re living within right now, you can achieve incredible things in your life. Here, I’ll lay out the 10 key things you should do to commit to in order to achieve the future you dream of.

1) Define your future self

Only through imagining a future self with improved skills may we be able to motivate, plan, and execute the honing of skills through deliberate practice.

— Dr. Thomas Suddendorf, Dr. Melissa Brinums, and Dr. Kana Imuta

Image: Gapingvoid Culture Walls™. Used with permission.

When many people describe themselves, they use phrases like “I’m an introvert” or “I’m not good with people” or “I’m bad at networking.” But the worst thing you can do for your future potential is to be definitive about who you are. Your current self is temporary and should…

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Benjamin Hardy, PhD
Forge
Writer for

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