Your True Achievement Expectations Have High Accuracy

Written by Armen Shirvanian

Before you jump on a new opportunity, take a minute to get a feel for if it is worth it for you to pick that specific one.  The portion of that worth that I am discussing here is that related to how far you will take it.  The thoughts you have about how you will perform on a goal before you even start the goal define whether or not you will complete the goal, and if you will progress beyond it.  This is an area of concern that helps you decide which opportunities you turn down, and which ones you accept.

Example Of Expectation Matching Results – Quitting Smoking

your_true_achievementI know an individual who said that he wanted to quit smoking a bit over a week ago.  He told me he had made the goal to completely stop, and asked me for some guidance.  I told him that it needed to be a real goal on his part, and not something said just to impress me or himself.  I got a sense that that is what it might have been.  I tried to keep it as neutral as possible, and not make any statements that would make him feel bad as a person if he did return to smoking.

A few days ago, he let me know that he didn’t continue the goal and smoked the day before.  After talking to him a bit, he ended up pointing out that the honest goal he had in his mind was to reduce the amount of smoking he did, but he hadn’t truthfully planned to quit completely.  I appreciated his honesty, and what he said reinforces this concept that the straightforward goal you really feel you can accomplish and want to accomplish is the goal you should write down or tell others about, because any goal that isn’t congruent with your thinking will not be fulfilled and will cause resentment toward one person or another.

The Attitude You Start Something With Equals The Success You Acquire From It

In the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, there is a portion where the author describes how the attitude children take into an activity(playing music in this case) is very correlated with their future success, as the ones who saw themselves practicing the activity in the long-term, and becoming proficient in it, were the ones that did, and the ones who didn’t have as much of a long-term aspiration before starting the process, and couldn’t really see themselves enjoying or succeeding in it, were the ones who didn’t go as far.

What you can take from that research is that your brain lets you know right away when you see a new opportunity as to whether it fits you, or if it would be a waste of your time.  There are loads of opportunities out there, so it isn’t like you have to accept every single one to succeed.  If you focus on the ones where you feel you are willing and interested in putting long-term effort in, you won’t end up in that lost-time cycle where you ask yourself if you should continue because of the time you have already put in, even though the interest isn’t there.

Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Armen Shirvanian

Armen Shirvanian writes words of wisdom about mindset, communication, relationships, and related topics at Timeless Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @Armen.


  • Armen, this is a great post. How often do we go for goals, because we think we “should” do it, without our whole heart being in it. No wonder that the drop out quote is constantly raising.

    If I enjoy either getting the result and/or the process to such an extent, that merely thinking about it keeps me smiling, then my chances are significantly higher to reach that goal. Thank you very much for your insights.
    .-= Patrick @´s last blog ..How to Overcome a Situation That’s Out Of Your Control =-.

    • Hey Patrick.

      Thanks about the post. We do that real often, and then we look ridiculous to people, when it was us in the first place setting some outlandish public goal when our inner goal was much more modest, but attainable.

      Yeah. If you enjoy getting the results, or the process, that should be enough right. We have to keep what we do founded in what fits us. Societal expectations can be left for someone else to focus on.

      Thanks for your thoughts too.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Outdoor Mountain Hiking Trail Adventure – Series Introduction =-.

  • Great post… I do believe your attitude determines your success. I also believe that a great attitude combined with a passion will lead you to the opportunities that will create your success. Like Joseph Campbell said “follow your bliss” and you will succeed.

    • Hi Jai.

      I do hear that and I think it is accurate because following your bliss means you will not get into that feeling like “what am doing?”. Everyone has that thing they do that feels right, and when doing anything other than that, it feels like any amount of money or status wouldn’t make it worth it. Often, it is the same thing we liked to do when we were 5 or 10 years old, just converted into a different form of the same thing today.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • What Steven. said about martial arts is so on point – concentrate way beyond the goal and you will achieve it quicker and with more ease … aim high and the skys the limit. explosive power well focused is a lazer red hot babie burns all, in its path including the terget.

    • Lloyd: Hey there.

      Yeah, his example sure was fitting. It was a great extension to the examples there. I like your laser example because it is a potent one. It takes quite a bit of effort, though, to focus past a goal. We usually focus toward a little bit less than our goal, and try to find some cheap maneuver to edge our way to the goal, which is actually much harder to do.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • Great post Armen. I think goals should be divided into two categories. Short term and long term. The problem is not so much on goals being far-fetched but on the tendency to focus on the end-game rather than what really matters, because before you know it, you get overwhelmed and discourage when your progress is not as you have expected.
    .-= Karlil´s last blog ..The 17 Conditions Of Lasting Love =-.

    • Hi Karlil.

      Thanks for that. That is another way to approach it that seems applicable. When we focus on the end-game all the time, it’s like looking at a pot of gold that is behind a see-through wall all day long, as it doesn’t get us there. I’d get discouraged staring at the end-result of my goals but not moving toward it.

      Breaking goals into short and long-term ones does sound useful, and one would have to have the patience and tenacity to stick with the long-term ones, since they are where the real juice is.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • Hi Armen,

    I like this spin on goal-setting. I agree that we (collectively) have a tendency to set goals that are so far ahead of where we currently are that we lose sight of our ability to chunk it down and take it one step at a time. When we focus too much on the “end-game” that seems so far out of reach, we tend to give up before we really get started.

    What I took from this post is that you can break your goals into smaller chunks that are aligned with your MAIN goal…but those smaller chunks should be cut in such a way that you know you can accomplish them. By moving forward with the smaller chunks, you inevitably move closer to your desired “end-game.”

    .-= Paul Norwine´s last blog ..Eliminating Self-Doubt | Beating the Bogeyman at His Own Game =-.

    • Hi Paul.

      That is quite true huh. We put some goal up that is way beyond what we actually would like to or plan to do, and then our friends or co-workers ask us questions about it until we can’t take trying to maintain the lofty goal anymore, and then the whole process is canceled. It isn’t worth starting it like that.

      I like what you are saying about keeping it in small chunks. It would be worth pointing out the small chunks to others, as those could be managed and completed, and keeping the large chunk in your own mind until it nears, so too much pressure doesn’t build along the way. Gary Vaynerchuk didn’t point out his big business goals with his vlog until a few years after he started it since he had built up enough clout to already be on the way to business success.

      You have added some good material to the post.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • Thanks Armen for a great post.

    The short length of the post built up my expectation that it would be a simple and easy to understand post. And thankfully you fulfilled my expectation.

    I am going to send this post to a smoker friend of mine who has been telling me for a long time that she wants to quit but yet resumes after just a day or two.

    Hopefully soon she too will be disgusted with the idea of smoking.
    .-= Arvind Devalia´s last blog ..Rip Up your Happiness Contract and Be Truly Happy! =-.

    • Arvind: I am glad to have written it.

      I like what you said about the expectation of it being such a post. In fact that matches up with what the post is saying, in a slightly different way.

      I think your smoker friend will learn at least something from this. I showed it to the smoker friend who I wrote about and he said it was right on the money.

      I have seen some quit but they had a big impetus to do so before they did. I have seen many more not actually quit, and it is a big disheartening.

      Thanks for your message there.

  • Armen, I liked the simplicity of this message.

    I would also add an example of progressing through your goals. For anyone who has done martial arts you will know this. When you learn to punch through a piece of wood to break it, you concentrate on 6 inches to back of the board and do no concentrate on punching the board itself. This is like punching through your expectations, concentrate on way beyond the goal and you will achieve it quicker and with more ease.

    • Hi Steven.

      Thanks for that about the simplicity behind the message there. I wanted to keep it down to one specific point, so that it would be focused on.

      At first I thought your example was for a different point, but then I realized it is right on with the message I was saying. If someone doesn’t have the expectation of going through the board to 6 inches behind it, their ending focal point is somewhere not as far through the process, which will have a heavy hand in limiting their ability to break through the board.

      That example would add right on to the end of the article.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • Hi Armen. Like your example with quitting smoking, at least he was being honest to you when he said he couldn’t go cold turkey. I had a friend tell me he was going to quit smoking (many times), but he always went back to doing it anyway. I think if you want to go for a long-term goal, you have to look in the mirror and really ask yourself if you are serious or not about it. I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks Armen.

    • Hey Tristan.

      Yeah, he could have kept telling me he was really looking to quit, and I would have just gotten frustrated knowing his intentions didn’t match what he was saying.

      Your friend sounds like many I have known. At the same time, I have known a couple of individuals who got convinced to quit one day, or convinced themselves it was time, and now they dislike smoking and smokers.

      Good to hear your thoughts.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • Thanks for the thoughtful post, Armen. Our mind, working in tandem with our feelings, does seem to have the ability to assign us to tasks which it thinks are appropriate for us. There are also times, however, when we should try to put the thoughts in our mind in the right perspective and not let them restrict us to things which we’re familiar or comfortable with. Otherwise, we might miss out on opportunities to stretch ourselves.
    .-= The Conscious Life´s last blog ..Plug Your Energy Black Holes & Reclaim Your Zest for Life =-.

    • Hello to you.

      Thanks for that. What you are saying certainly does relate to Jeffrey’s comment and my response above this one. Our mind does tend to filter out activities out of our range to a certain degree, but we sometimes have thoughts that we can sneakily jump into the mind of someone who has a different skill set, and ignoring the things that have always slowed us down is likely to lead to more slow-downs. I do agree with you that stretching ourselves is not to be left out as an option, by stretching with tasks that suit us in some way.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

  • Good points, Steven. I guess the real task is identifying what your true expectations are underneath all the wishful thinking. And even harder than that – genuinely changing those true expectations when you approach a difficult task.

    A question for you: do you think our expectations change our actions and therefore our success, or do you think we form expectations based on what we subconsciously know about ourselves and our abilities? Or a little of both, perhaps?
    .-= Jeffrey Tang´s last blog ..10 Excuses I’ve Used Up This Month =-.

      • Hey Jeffrey.

        That is alright about the writer issue.

        I like what you have brought up here. Someone who works through a goal knowing and believing in their true expectations, instead of working through it with with wishful ones in mind, then has a very high probability of success in place, and can then be surprised by results that would fit into the wishful category.

        That question there hits a key point. I would say it is a mix of both. Let’s say I see the benefits of learning 500 vocabulary words for some purpose. Right at that point, I would either sense that I would have an enjoyable time through the learning process, or would struggle, based on my past experiences and what my brain told me as it thought through what learning vocabulary would require. A past interest in word roots or prefixes would provide a positive signal, and grades on essays years ago saying “choose a better word” might provide a negative signal. In that respect, I think I would lean towards the side of your question about using what we subconsciously know about ourselves and our abilities.

        Actually, if I had to sum that part up, I would say our subconscious knowledge about ourselves would represent what we could handle in the long-term, but we could also use willpower to manipulate our expectations to help us in the short-term, until we actually did have some more positive signals to work with.

        Thanks for the thoughtful and incisive question.
        .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

    • Hi Faramarz.

      I understand what you are saying there and agree that we have a desire to want to manipulate our expectations to help us in all aspects. Here I was referring more to when you have a few options, and see yourself doing best in one of them, to select that one, even though the other ones may be more advanced, because we get a high return-on-investment in things we do where we can envision ourselves going far.

      Trying to make yourself expect good things, when your mind doesn’t see yourself fitting well in a scenario, like an introvert wanting to expect to be able to succeed in direct contact with people for many hours at a time, is a struggle like swimming against a river.
      .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Hard Work Is What You Want To Be Doing =-.

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