A New Way to Think About How to Achieve Your Goals

by Alli Polin on April 28, 2015

a new way to think about how to achieve your goals

Change is hard. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s not. Ideas, dreams, wishes, that’s easier. Sitting on your couch thinking big, who hasn’t done that?

“I should quit my job and become a location independent blogger. I’d love to travel the world.”

“I always make people laugh. It would rock to perform at Second City someday.”

“I could write a book that’s better than this one. In fact, I should.”

“I don’t need this many headaches. I’m totally going to quit my job.”

Whoa. Before you quit you job tomorrow, it’s important to understand if you’re a Wisher, Persister or a Succeeder on this particular dream. What? Haven’t you heard those terms before? Okay, I made them up, but I use them because they’re a great guide for getting clear on where you currently stand and how to achieve your goals.  

Wishers, Persisters and Succeeders all have opportunities to make focused changes in their approaches. It’s all about figuring out a next step that’s meaningful, intentional and will drive desired results.

Most people don’t fall into one category in all areas of their life. In fact, chances are, you’ve been all three at one time or another. For example, you may be a Wisher when it comes to writing your book, a Persister when it comes to running a marathon, and a Succeeder with starting your own business. 

How to Achieve Your Goals for Wishers, Persisters, and Succeeders

Instead of thinking of this model as a series of landing points, consider them doors that you open with your actions. The keys are confidence, creativity, and growing competence over time. Let’s take a closer look. 

How to achieve your goals for wishers, persisters and succeeders


This is where we all start, and some of us get stuck, forever

What are some of the telltale signs of a Wisher?

Shifting Dreams

Wishers think big, but one of the hallmarks of Wishers is that the dream is constantly morphing. At least that’s the way it seems on the surface.

I swear one of my clients has a new business idea monthly that they are “definitely” going to do. From the outside, the ideas are seemingly unrelated with the only commonality that my client is 100% gung ho. 

Finally, we dove into the deeper work of what he truly wants. It’s not to start a drop ship business on eBay, shocker; it’s to create a business and a life where he can work fewer hours and be with his family more. Aha. 

All Talk, No Action (or half-hearted at best)

When it comes to talk, Wishers don’t play small. In fact, they often have significant goals and ideas. They also talk about them all the time.

“I’m thinking about…” 

“I know what I’m going to do.”

“Have I told you…”

Yep. You’ve told me and everyone else too. 

I don’t want to categorize all Wishers as exclusively big talkers. Some Wishers do take  action, but it’s usually to back up their excuses instead of moving the dream forward. 

“I tried to get a new job. I put my resume on Monster, but nothing came of it.”

“I was going to run today, but I’m still sore from my run a few days ago. I can’t.”

Let Fear Rule

People who are forever wishing and taking limited action to make their dreams a reality are often secretly afraid. What if they’re not talented enough, smart enough, connected enough? What if they’re found out for being imposters, stepping too far too fast? 

Wishers start to believe the devil on their shoulder and replace potential action with longing. The “what if’s” erode confidence to the point where the dream is a great one… for someone else. 

Homework for Wishers

1) Uncover what you want at the core. Is it to be a blogger or to have a location independent business or to travel more. When you know what your big vision is, it becomes your guiding star for all of your ideas and actions. 

2) Stop worrying about what you’ll do half-way to your goal. Take the first step, your next step, to turn your dream into reality. If you stand still, so does your dream. 

3) Turn your fear into energy. Start with positive self-talk. You may feel silly at first but until you believe in yourself, you’ll never move forward with confidence.


No more thinking, Persisters start doing and keep on going. 

What are some of the telltale signs of a Persister?

Action is Your Middle Name

Persisters are in motion, no longer wishing; they’ve moved to creating. However, not all action is created equal. 

I know a few coaches from my coach training days that wanted to be able to support themselves full time through their practice, so they started blogging, a lot. They’ve been very busy blogging almost daily for years but still have very limited clients. They are clearly Persisters, but their challenge is they’re not sure what else to add to their current action to move forward. They don’t know their next step. 

Focus on the Vision

Remember the vision the Wishers had for homework? Most Persisters have it down. They know what they want, and they’re going after it. All activity centers on achieving their goal. 

Persisters are also great at blocking out distraction and suffer far less from “shiny object syndrome” than Wishers. Smart Persisters know that they can’t write their novel while watching TV or play Candy Crush while facilitating their team meeting. 

Distractions are always present, but Persisters are unlikely to be easily knocked off course. 

Push Through Even When You Want to Stop

Not everything you have to do to achieve a goal, even one you strongly desire, is going to be fun. In fact, not everything you do is going to be perfect. Persisters recognize that just because they went off their diet on Tuesday, it doesn’t mean that Wednesday is shot as well. 

Persisters push through pain, setbacks, and frustration because the big vision keeps pulling them forward. Difficulty doesn’t mean giving up. 

Homework for Persisters: 

1) Remember, variety is a Friend. If you’re having mild to moderate success with your current techniques, change it up and challenge yourself to try something new. You never know when a small tweak to routine can yield big results. 

2) Don’t hang in there indefinitely. I know that the commonly issued advice is “don’t give up!” It’s time to add “too soon” to the end of that thought. It’s not a failure to learn from your efforts and shift your energy towards a new goal after giving it your all. 

3) Put in some hustle to multiply the impact of your effort. It’s okay to have good days and bad days, it’s human. Look up hustle in the dictionary and you’ll find that it’s “a state of great activity.” Keep turning up the volume to reach your max potential.  

The next doorway is the Succeeders. It’s not a secret club of super lucky people who got a big break.  They worked for it, hard. Persisters understand taking a wish, putting it into action and working hard towards a goal. Nevertheless, some Persisters do give up before success but that doesn’t necessarily translate to failure. For some, their dream has shifted, or their passion has waned. Others discover that their dream doesn’t bring them joy and is simply one more thing on their to-do list they despise.  

If you stop before success, after giving it your all, it’s not failure, it’s a choice. 


Achieving goals and celebrating accomplishments. 

What are some of the telltale signs of a Succeeder?

Risk is a Friend

Succeeders don’t shy away from risk.  They’re also experts at discerning between unnecessary risk and smart opportunities that require significant fortitude. While others may resist stepping into the discomfort of the unknown, Succeeders thrive on the edge. 

Energized and most alive when pushing themselves to the limits of their capabilities, Succeeders relish a challenge.

Whatever it Takes – Within Reason

Focused, driven, and energized, Succeeders are willing to push themselves to the limit to achieve their goals, but not beyond. They know themselves well enough to know that it’s not only this single goal that matters but where it fits in their full life. 

Yes, people who have a mantra of “whatever it takes” often do create some level of success in a particular area. However, Succeeders recognize that each goal is a part of the whole picture, a single spoke on a larger wheel

Never One and Done

Succeeders rarely achieve their goal and go back to their old ways. They’ve made success a habit and thrive on the adrenaline rush of meeting big goals. Most marathoners I know train for one, and the next day are already looking towards their next. 

Similarly, the people who make the greatest impact at work not only share their ideas but take on the challenge of moving the work forward. They’re constantly working on special projects because they suggest them and raise their hands… and it gets noticed. 

Some Succeeders become addicted to bigger, bolder and more aggressive goals yet still struggle with figuring out their next step.  They know where they’ve been and all they’ve done to get them to where they are, but need support on what’s next. The key is that once they find clarity, Succeeders are on their way. 

Homework for Succeeders:

1) Never stop dreaming. When you stop being creative, innovating and dreaming, you’re done. Continue to build on your success by allowing yourself to dream about what’s next, play with concepts, and bring them to life. 

2) Continue to stretch and grow. Just like you need to expand your goals, you should also continue to work on yourself. Take on new challenges, focus on learning and personal development. 

3) Chase the butterflies.  Safety didn’t make you a Succeeder.  You took risks to get where you are.  When you feel the butterflies, you know you’re headed in the right direction. Continue to find things that excite and energize you to be and do your best. 

Where do you fit? Do you recognize yourself across all three? 

Ask yourself:

Where am I a Wisher? At work? With my fitness goals?

Where am I a Persister? With my business? With my relationship?

Where am I a Succeeder? Travel? Blogging? Writing? Running?

Now ask yourself, what’s one step, no matter how small it may seem, that I can take to move forward?

In my practice, I love to work with Wishers who are ready to open the door to success by finally taking action despite their fears. I also challenge Persisters to change up their game and break the frame to create higher levels of success. Lastly, Succeeders don’t need me to push them but instead turn the spotlight within to continue to expand. 

Whether you’re a Wisher, Persister or a Succeeder, if you want to get crystal clear on your next step, join me starting on May 17th for Your Next Step: From Stuck to Unstoppable.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Duc Abrahamson April 28, 2015 at 6:02 am

These are great terms! I wouldn’t be surprised if they took off and by next year they are part of every day lingo. I’m a combination of all three.


Alli Polin April 28, 2015 at 9:48 am

Thanks, Duc! I’m definitely a combination of all three too!

It’s interesting to step back and notice when you think you’re giving it your all and doing all you can do that what’s next may not be what you’d think.

Welcome, by the way! Really appreciate your comment!

~ Alli


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ April 28, 2015 at 7:22 am

What I love about this post Alli is that you provide “homework’ for each type. Often we think of some people as having the easy magic formula — that they have no struggles or challenges. “Oh If I could only be like …”

Yet it isn’t true. The grass isn’t greener for them. They must weed out and water/nourish their talents just like everybody.

Great post! Will definitely share on my streams.



Alli Polin April 28, 2015 at 9:51 am

Thanks, Kate! I agree, I know many people who ask “why is it so easy for them but so hard for me?” Chances are, we have limited insight into someone else’s personal challenges. In fact, the stories we make up can strongly influence our decision to give up. There are all things we can do to move forward (just have to find them).

Appreciate your comments and insights, Kate!


John Thurlbeck April 28, 2015 at 7:53 am

I’m with Kate on this one Alli ~ I loved the idea of homework, of self-reflection that leads to positive action and of action that brings positive change.

Excellent post, which I’ve shared on my platforms!

Great stuff!

John 🙂


Alli Polin April 28, 2015 at 7:18 pm

A little homework can make all the difference especially when it leads us to ultimately stop simply thinking and put new ideas and actions into motion.

Appreciate your support!

Thanks, John!


Jon Mertz April 28, 2015 at 7:54 am

Great way to think through where we are and what we can do, Alli. We can never wish our way into a better job or company but we can do the work to find the right path forward. Homework in each is to always keep learning and converting what we learn into solid actions to make a difference.

Great model and homework!! Thanks. Jon


Alli Polin April 28, 2015 at 7:21 pm

A lot of people need to learn that lesson, John. There’s a lot of wishing going on, but change happens when thinking meets action. It can be scary, uncomfortable or awkward, but it’s often what it takes to move.

Thanks for sharing your insights and your comment, Jon!


Terri Klass April 28, 2015 at 9:02 am

Excellent post, Alli and one that can give us all hope and drive! The homework sections are so meaningful.

I love your three categories, especially the Persisters. I find that what separates out people who just wish from taking action is being able to work harder. It does take focus and time to learn new skills and gain valuable knowledge.

On that note, your group coaching program sounds awesome! You are such an extraordinary coach and your group sessions will be enlightening!



Alli Polin April 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

You hit on a really important point, Terri – it does take time to develop a new skill, create a robust offering, be known in a niche, on and on. Persisters move through self-doubt by keeping an eye on their vision. You also have me thinking about the concept of “being able to work harder.” Every moment of learning and assimilation forwards our ability to do just that.

Thanks for adding to the conversation!


LaRae Quy April 28, 2015 at 7:50 pm

This is just a fantastic post, Alli!

I found myself going through your list trying to identify when/where I’m a wisher, a persister, and a succeeder in different areas of my life!

I also love your tips for each of these levels. They are practical and concrete. I personally know a lot of persisters; they try really hard but they can’t seem to take it the next level. I’ve found that by narrowing my focus when I’m a persister mode it is easier for me to drill down and not let my attention be drawn away by other priorities.

This is valuable learning material for your coaching clients…thanks for sharing with us!


Alli Polin April 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm

I know a lot of persisters too… chipping away for years but not really moving forward. It’s time for that to change. Narrowing your focus is a great tip! Sometimes, when you finally find your niche, that’s when things really begin to flow (and others feel it too!)

Thanks, LaRae!


John Bennett April 28, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Can’t wait to really Consider all the information in this post. Lots of great suggestions that I’m sure are great, from my online course with you. Wish I could do the one coming up – but we buried with selling in Connecticut and building in Virginia. Will it be available in the fall (spring for you)???


Alli Polin April 29, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Thanks, John! I hope to offer it again in the fall. Will definitely let you know! 🙂

All the best with your move!


Chery Gegelman April 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Thank you Alli! I’m with everyone else – a combination of all three and thankful that you put this together. I have some pondering to do! 🙂


Alli Polin April 30, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Thanks, Chery! Your feedback means so much.


Leave a Comment