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Mike Figliuolo


Yoda’s Three Steps to Achieving Your Goals

Advice to help you focus, believe, and act

Published: Thursday, August 31, 2023 - 11:03

Life goals. Bucket lists. “One day I’ll ....”

We all have dreams and goals. The biggest difference between people who achieve them and those who don’t is the act of actually doing. Do you have goals and things you want to achieve? Professional aspirations? Personal bucket list items?

Let me ask this: What’s stopping you from starting on them?

I don’t tend to get motivational on this blog. (Every time someone asks me if I’m a motivational speaker, I can’t help but think of that Saturday Night Live Chris Farley skit). But today I’m serving up a little motivation, Yoda-style.

Luke whined, “All right. I’ll give it a try.”

The Yoda Fountain at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s Presidio. Credit: Muboshgu

Yoda gave Luke an attitude adjustment “No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.”

What would Yoda say to you if you talked to him about your goals and your progress toward them?

That’s what I thought.

I’m here to be your Yoda. I’ll share some experiences related to my goal of getting my book One Piece of Paper (Jossey-Bass, 2011) published. Hopefully, my story can help you on your way toward achieving your goals. Here are some great first steps you can take right now.

‘Ready are you?’

You can’t get “there” if you don’t know where “there” is. Sit down and actually articulate what it is you’re trying to achieve. Define success.

Some people say I’m lucky (I actually think I am), but there’s more to it than luck. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” I tend to make sure I’m prepared to achieve my goals.

For example, I always wanted to write a book. It was a nebulous goal. I didn’t have a specific subject in mind (but had several options I had thought of). I didn’t pursue the goal actively because it was lower on my priority list than other current business, but the goal existed—to see my face on a dust jacket in a bookstore.

Out of the blue (and because of this blog), a literary agent reached out to me. “Hey, I’ve read your blog. Good stuff. Ever thought of writing a book?” In that instant I was able to offer up several topics I had rattling around in my head because I had previously defined this as a personal goal. I was prepared when “luck” knocked.

Had I not defined this goal and prepared for it, I might have stammered and had nothing to offer him. Instead, my book is now a reality.

Have you defined your goal? Are you ready to seize the opportunity when it knocks? No? Then go write your goal down. Now. I’m not kidding. Write it down.


Luke: “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you have the ability to achieve the goal or build the skills that will enable you to achieve it? If not, just quit. Give up. Now. Go watch Jerry Springer.

You have to believe in yourself. You must be relentless in pursuing those goals. The minute you lose confidence in yourself, you’re done. That lack of confidence will show through in all you do, and a vicious circle of failure will begin.

When I launched thoughtLEADERS full-time, it was a scary leap. A family to support. A mortgage. College. Wow.

But I believed I could do it. I had successfully taught some of our courses to some great clients. I knew how to execute a business plan. I believed I could sell and deliver our services.

Yes, there were dark and scary moments when there was only $3,000 of revenue booked for the coming quarter. But I believed. I kept pushing. And the revenue followed.

Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you can achieve the goal? Do you have reminders around you that help you remember that you can achieve and succeed? Find those reminders. Start believing in yourself. It’s a good bet to make.

‘There is no try. Do.’

I could spew forth a ton of quotes about taking that first step on your journey blah, blah, blah. I won’t. I’ll just say if you have big goals, they can be daunting. But you have to start somewhere.

It’s intimidating to look down the barrel of a 65,000-word clause in a book contract and realize you haven’t written the first word yet. That said, I started writing One Piece of Paper and finished a first draft. Then the edits came back. Daunting. But I started with the first red mark. I finished 17 days later.

Every interim step on the path to the broader goal of publication was a small goal in and of itself. I tackled every one with a mindset of “do.” Do not procrastinate. Do not be overwhelmed. Break up your goal and “do.”

Look, I know you have goals. The question is whether you’re actively pursuing them and ready to achieve them. Heed Yoda’s advice:

“Ready are you?”



Published Aug. 10, 2023, on the thoughtLEADERS LinkedIn page.


About The Author

Mike Figliuolo’s picture

Mike Figliuolo

Mike Figliuolo is the author of The Elegant Pitch (Weiser, 2016) and One Piece of Paper (Jossey-Bass, 2011), and co-author of Lead Inside the Box (Weiser, 2015). He’s also the managing director of thoughtLEADERS LLC, a leadership development training firm. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.