Mind & Soul > Life Goals > 10 Tips From Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on Achieving Your Goals

10 Tips From Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on Achieving Your Goals

These ten tips for achieving your goals are based on Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and my experience as a teacher and full-time freelance writer.

“What surprised me most were the ordinary methods successful people use to achieve all they achieve,” writes Malcolm Gladwell’s in Outliers: The Story of Success.

Whether you want to learn How to Find Your Dream Job or adopt a puppy, you don’t need special equipment or a lot of money to achieve your goals. But, you do need some basic tools. Whether you want to attract business investors or start over after losing someone you love, you need to be thoughtful and strategic about moving forward. But, you don’t need to expect a miracle to achieve your goals! It’s the littlest things that make the biggest differences…

10 Tips From Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on Achieving Your Goals

1. Incorporate rewards. One of the best ways to achieve your goals is to keep persevering – and the way to keep persevering is to reward yourself along the way. For instance, every time you make a sincere effort to achieve your goal or you accomplish a small goal, reward yourself with a healthy, meaningful something.

2. Set yourself up for success. Instead of berating yourself for your weaknesses and failures, a great tip for achieving your goals is to set yourself up to succeed. For me, this means making my “to do” list at the end of each work day…and forgiving myself for not achieving everything on my list today (it’s about overcoming perfectionism).

3. Work with your strengths. I’m a big fan of “to do” lists and I love checking off each task as I accomplish it. That’s one of my strengths, and I work with it to achieve my goals. What are you good at? Use your inclinations, and be creative. For instance, if you’re good at talking to strangers, find ways to use that ability to get you a step closer to your goal.

4. Identify the obstacles to your goals. What’s stopping you from achieving your life goals? Be honest. Is it lack of discipline, physical impediments, lack of money, a weak support network, or a feeling of hopelessness? The sooner you identify what’s holding you back from achieving your goals, the better able you’ll be to deal with those obstacles.

5. Ask for help in achieving your goals. What do you need to achieve your goals and overcome your obstacles? Do you need money? Time? Motivation? Support? Be specific about what you need to achieve your career or personal goals, identify who specifically can help you, and be clear about what you’d like them to do.

6. Learn to overcome obstacles to your goals. “Sometimes constraints actually create success,” Gladwell says. “Not being able to swim made me run. And running taught me the discipline I needed as a writer.” So – whatever your obstacles are – don’t fight or curse them. Work with your obstacles to achieve your goals.

Sometimes achieving career goals requires setting new goals. Read Making a Career Change at 40? 10 Things You Need to Know.

7. Surround yourself with likeminded folk. Who is where you see yourself in one, five, ten, or even fifteen years? To achieve your goals, stay connected to people who achieved their goals. Their attitudes, values, habits, and thoughts will rub off on you. Also, stay away from people who hold you back or aren’t supportive.

8. Put your time in. Bill Gates programmed computers at university for 10,000 hours before he started his own company. Gates is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in recent history (perhaps of all time) — but he spent 10,000 hours practicing before he took the leap. That’s 416 days of working around the clock. This tip for achieving your goals is from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and involves practicing your craft. “But they [successful people] also simply put in more hours than anyone else,” writes Gladwell.

How to Achieve Your Goals - 10 Tips From Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers9. Revise your goals as necessary. Last year, my goal was to earn a certain amount of money per month as a freelance writer. This year, it’s to land my first book writing contract — which means the amount of money I earn each month as a freelance writer may decrease. To achieve your goals, be open to revising as you go. Take your nose off the grindstone every so often…look around…and make sure you’re still on the right track.

10. Help people achieve their goals. When you encourage or educate or help someone achieve their goals, you renew your own dedication, determination, and self-discipline! It feels great to help people move towards their dreams, and it’s good karma! 🙂

Bonus Tip: Don’t work towards competing goals. If your goal is to earn more money or get a work promotion, don’t set additional goals of writing a bestselling novel or traveling around the world for six months. Focus on achieving one or two life goals, and make sure they’re compatible.

If you’re not sure what “achieving your goals” means to you, read 10 Ways to Figure Out What to Do With Your Life.


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7 thoughts on “10 Tips From Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on Achieving Your Goals”

  1. Thanks for your comments on achieving your goals. Malcolm Gladwell’s book should be read and re-read – it really is excellent inspiration and information.

  2. The setbacks you encounter when you’re trying to achieve your goals can actually become a springboard to success. It’s hard to be positive when you feel like you’re failing, but if you can try to pull away from the disappointment and frustration, then you’re sure to succeed.

    I loved Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and think we should re-read it all regularly when we’re trying to achieve our goals.

  3. Thanks so much for the imformation on this site. I have always wanted to be an artist. Now that I’m nearing the last remaining years. I want to make myliving with what I have the God given ability and talentfor . I’m just scare of how my bills will be paid.
    I always had to do this or that and hold a job. I never really planned to go to college for an art degree, but I did as a non=tradtional student. I also worked full time to pay the bills and provide for my youngest. But stayed with the job because it paid the bills.
    I will try very hard on doing what you suggest by making a nd following a schedule that will allow me to produce artwork and be around positive people and artists. Yes I would love to hear from you all sincerely, dema

  4. Yes, I agree with your opinions. It is important to set your goals to what you desire and help you to project yourself in a better light.

  5. Hi Laurie,
    I know this to be true: the more we outline our goals in a clear, precise manner, write them and review them daily, the higher the probability that we’ll achieve them! Time tested and true!

    One of the greatest resources for achieving goals is your #7 – Surround yourself with like-minded folk! Just as ‘you are what you eat’, the same holds true for ‘you are your environment’.

    Oh, and great bonus tip Laurie!

  6. I am a self confessed avoider of goal setting. I don’t have anything against them, I just never can make myself sit down and write them out.

    I know I need to, though. I like this list a lot and find it encouraging. I will print it out and tape it where it will glare at me until I get off my keyster and do what I know needs to be done.