5 Ways Ordinary People Can Start Achieving Extraordinary Results

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I’ve always had a problem with “SMART” goals. The concept just seemed too easy, too unfinished. Like… I set a goal, but what’s next? There are millions of people who set goals every year that do not finish them. I’m sure their goals are smart.

But why aren’t they finishing?

Goals are not really the end of the journey. They’re just the destination. Once you figure out your destination, you have to figure out:

  • What you budget is for the trip

  • When you’ll make time in your schedule to take this trip.

  • Whether you’re going to get there by bus, train or plane.

  • Who is going with you

  • How long it will take

  • And as you go, you’ll likely be checking your progress with Google Maps the entire trip (Am I right?)

To truly start accomplishing your goals, you must think about the end goal as a destination. And then begin the journey, step by step, to get from where you are now to where you want to be in your life.

My Destination

I started paying off my student loan debt three years ago. I had $42,000 of total debt from my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Finally, I got my first “real job” and couldn’t even enjoy my income because I felt crushed by my student loan debt.

Related Content: How to Guarantee Grad School is Worth your Time and Money

I felt #defeated, every time I made my minimum payment and it wasn’t even enough to cover the interest on my loan. (Facepalm).

That's when I decided that I had to start aggressively paying off my student loan debt. I set the SMART goal first, but then I also had to use every tool in the goal setting garage, not just toolbox, in order to make this big dream a #reality.

Here’s how you really build the habits to accomplish your largest goals:

Start with setting measurable goals.

This means setting your goal in way that you can measure whether or not you’ve achieved it. Make sure you have an exact number associated with your goal and a date you want to complete it by.

For example, here are two ways you can set a goal to tackle your debt:

Example #1: "I'll pay off $42K of student loan debt by December 31st of this year."

Example #2:  "Take control of my debt."

The first example outlines exactly how much you want to pay and when you want to complete it.

In the second example, you're setting a vague goal that's difficult to track. How do you know when you’ve taken control of your debt? Is it when you’ve started making the minimum payments? Is it when you’re doubling the minimum? Is it when you’ve deferred that payment again to tackle your other priorities?

If you haven’t set a CLEAR goal in the beginning, it’ll be impossible to measure your success.

Set Milestones for your goals.

Since I knew I wanted to pay off $37K in my first year, I set a monthly number that I would have to pay in order to reach that goal.

$37K/12 months = $3K per month

Once I knew how much I needed to reach my goal, it was really easy to look at my budget and plan how I could make it happen. Also, I could easily track whether I was on track to reach my goal on a monthly basis.

Use a goal tracker.

I am a VERY visual person so I like to see things on paper. When you're working towards a long term goal, (like paying off a ton of debt) it can get boring and you almost start to wonder if you're actually making any progress.

I created a chart where I could color in one square for every $1000 of debt I paid off. If you like to track electronically, there are lots of good apps where you can track your progress on your phone.

Slowly, but surely, I started to fill my chart with colorful boxes. I hung it on the wall so I could see how much progress I had made and how much I still had left.

Use an accountability partner.

I had a friend that I'd call monthly to make sure I was paying my debt off in a timely manner.

We'd have a 30 minute call once a month and talk about how much debt we'd paid off, how much we had left and what the next steps would be. This helped me build the habit and keep the habit of paying off my debt, right from the beginning.

A Note on Habits

All of these goal-crushing tools help you build the right habits so that you can take the right actions every day. Your goals are the result of taking the right actions over and over again until you reach your destination.

If you can master your habits, you can reach any goal you want.

It hasn't been a short journey, but I've made great progress toward this goal over the last two years. And by the end of this year, I’m proud to be able to say I’m student loan debt free!

What will your next SMART goal be?

Ready To Accomplish Your Greatest Goals? 

  1. Start planning out your largest goals with the FREE Goal Planning Worksheet.

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive

  3. Do you struggle with finishing the goals you start? Get clarity on your goals and the strategies to reach them with the ebook Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.

Get Crystal Clear On Your Grandest Goals

Download the FREE Goal Setting Clarity checklist and set goals that will create MIRACULOUS change in your life.

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.

How Do Vision Boards Work?

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Access The Step-by-Step Process I Used To Create My Big Vision and Transform My Life


Join the free 5-day challenge that walks you through exactly how I've created an effective & transformative vision that attracts good energy, great people and unlimited success.

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The first time I created a vision board I honestly did not think it was going to work.

I was in a place where I needed to change my life - struggling with depression, working too many jobs and paying way too many bills - when a good friend invited me to a vision board party.

I didn’t believe in “the power of vision boards.” In fact, I probably rolled my eyes at the concept entirely. However, my life was definitely sailing in the wrong direction and I was willing to try anything to turn that ship around.

So I attended… I am so glad that I did.

That year marked the year of change for my mindset, my personal strategy and rejuvenated my optimism.

Just a few years after creating my first vision board, I was able to go back to school, get a graduate degree, land my dream job, start saving money, and start getting out of debt.

Many people, like me, are skeptical of the whole idea of creating a vision board. You might be wondering how a vision board actually works. You might be wondering what in the world these magazine clippings are really doing and why people swear by them. (Trust me, I was certainly wondering my first time around!)

The entire process around creating a vision board provides insights, encouragement and motivation for you to continue moving towards your goals. Here’s why:

A Focused Time To Reflect on the things you want to change

Before I created my first vision board, I worried about everything I was going through in my life ALL THE TIME.

I worried about my exhaustion from working multiple jobs. I worried about paying rent, a car note and buying food for my family. I worried about debt collectors calling me daily for bills I couldn’t afford to pay.

The time I spent creating a vision board was a silent time where I could reflect on my negative feelings and not see them as infinite. I could FINALLY see them as things I had the power to change.

Related posts: Why Ruining My Credit Was The Best Decision Of My Life

Space and opportunity to think about your goals

When you create a vision board, you think about the changes you would like to make in your life.

Before my first vision board, I was always on the move. With three jobs, endless worrying, and one get rich quick attempt scheme after another, I did not have a free moment to stop thinking about today’s problems.

I didn’t have the time to think about what I wanted for tomorrow.

Creating a vision board gave me a designated time to pull myself out of today’s challenges and think about my future.

Simply focusing on the changes I wanted to make was an opportunity to brainstorm about what I’d need to do to get there.

Dream about the possibilities

Vision boards help you dream about things you didn't think were possible.

The idea behind a vision board is to think about the things that you don't allow yourself to think about on a daily basis.

For example, you might want to be a writer but you as soon as you start to dream about your life as a writer, you also consider:

  • The bills you have to pay

  • The family you have to feed

  • The things your parents, friends, job expect of you

Those realities can disable your ability to dream because you immediately tell yourself things like:

  • “Now is not the right time to pursue because I have a small child.”

  • “I can’t take the time to write because I have a demanding job”

  • “Once I finish this work project - then I’ll worry about pursuing my dreams.”

A vision board may feel more like a dream space than reality.

That blank canvas, made especially for dreaming big, gives you enough flexibility to re-discover those passions you left by the way-side, those hobbies you’re ignoring, those innate talents you don’t give yourself enough time to use.

Related post: Why Your Dreams Need A Home (and how to create it)

Creating a visual accountability partner

After you create a vision board, you’ll have a daily reminder of your goals an aspirations.

If you put it in a space where you will see it everyday, you can reflect with your vision board on a daily basis. This will also serve as your constant motivator and source of inspiration as you work through your goals.

Unlike a list of New Year’s Resolutions that can easily be lost, or a journal entry that you can forget about, your vision board sits in a space where you have constant interaction with it.

You’ll have of all the promises you made to yourself, the unfinished dreams waiting to be completed, the goals that you are working towards right before your eyes every day.

Related: Create A Vision Board That Serves You (Not Just One That Looks Good)

By its appearance, a vision board might seem like a silly arts and crafts project.

In reality it is a space to dream, a canvas to wonder, a reminder of what you really want and a visual accountability partner to keep you motivated when times get rough.

Ready to Start Living Your Dream Life Now?

  1. Get clarity on your next big goal with the FREE Big Vision Reflection Checklist

  2. Design your dream life with the Vision Board Planner, our step by step guide to creating vision boards that work.


Join The #5DayVision Challenge

I'm an ambitious goal-getter who knows the value of having a BIG VISION for my life. I'm ready to take my lifestyle+hustle to the next level in the #5DayVision Challenge!

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her workbook, The Vision Board Planner, gives women a step-by-step guide to create a super effective and life-changing vision board.

What To Do When You Can't Hide Your Struggle Anymore

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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 I recently shared my super painful debt story on Chain of Wealth Podcast. That interview inspired me to create this series. Rise From Rock Bottom tells every story from my failure years - and how I overcame them.


At the age of 23, I had a Mercedes Benz truck. My primary source of income was my babysitting job. (I know, don't judge.

I had a boyfriend who insisted I trade in my convertible (that I loved) for this truck, which he’d “help out” with. (read: he’d pay the bill) I didn’t know how much that truck cost until we broke up and I received the first bill.

All in, the car cost me nearly a GRAND per month.

That’s without any maintenance factored in. I went to get new brakes once and it cost me $850. Replacing the windshield wipers cost me $125. #FacePalm

I struggled to keep making my car payments. I took on additional jobs as a freelancer at night and a waitress on the weekends.

My life turned into a never-ending hamster wheel of making money, paying off debt, using credit cards to feed myself, and then making more money to pay the credit cards off.… Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

It wasn’t long before I maxed out all three of my credit cards and had nothing left to hold me afloat.

So I did the unthinkable… 

I called up my car loan company and requested a voluntary repossession of my car. 

My credit would tank but I had to take the hit because the bills were tanking my life

Give your self permission to fall apart

I gave back my car and bought a very cheap 1993 hooptie with a trunk that didn’t close all the way. The lid, held down by a bungee cord, would wobble up and down as I drove. #definitelynotabenz

Each time I sat in the car, which smelled like rust and old age, I would start crying thinking to myself “I used to ride around in style. I used to love my beautiful car. And look at my life now.” 

I'm a freakin' loser. 

Before downgrading my car, I could easily lie to myself. I convinced myself I’d figure out my financial problems quickly and easily. I’m a smart girl, nothing would hold me back.

I finally faced my truth sitting in my hooptie: I was struggling. I was in pain. I was suffering - alone. That change is here and I can’t outrun it. I have to deal with it.

Yes, that was the first moment I fell apart. (And there were many more moments to follow.)

Don't try to hold everything in. Be honest with yourself - your life sucks. It's okay to let that pain out and cry if you need to.

Give your family a chance to support you

My friends and family knew I was struggling with big life changes and finding my way. But I’d put on my "I'm a big girl, I’ll figure this out" smile.

It was a very convincing facade.

On the inside I was panicking, wondering how I could’ve shoveled myself so deep in a hole, how I could be so stupid, how I could put myself in this position.

Pulling up in my busted up car was the first visible indication anyone had that my life wasn’t as peachy keen as I pretended. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was struggling anymore.

The beautiful gift in not being able to hide your pain is finally being able to talk about it.

Once you’re able to speak your truth, your friends and family have the opportunity to support you… and it may surprise you just how much love and support you receive during your darkest time.

Accept Your Life As It Is

After about a month of driving that car, I completely forgot that I once was a luxury car owner.

I started to own the fact that I was now the owner of this crappy car that took me from point A to point B. Over time, this became my new normal. 

Accept where your life is right now and that it was YOUR life decisions that got you here. This acceptance allows you to stop lamenting on the past, brings you into the present, and allows you to start preparing for your future.


Start To Laugh At Everything. 

There were several times where the cord that held my trunk closed would break and I’d have to pull over to re-tie it. The first time it snapped, I rested my forehead on the steering wheel and cried until I mustered up enough energy to get out of the car.

I thought to myself “look at me…this is what my life has come to.”

After a while, I’d built a unique skill for driving just slow enough over bumps and dips in the road so those rope-snapping moments became less frequent.

When the rope would break on occasion, I’d giggle to myself and say "Of course the rope broke in the middle of the highway... why wouldn't it?"

Laughing can make all of your hard moments… bearable.


Remember your story is not finished

When you hit a life rut, it can feel like there's no way you're going to get out of this.

When I was obviously on the boarder of breaking down and couldn't take my life any longer I had a friend who would tell me "If you're going through hell, just keep going." 

It wasn't very helpful for him to say that. I was hoping for something like "your brighter days are ahead" but there's really no way to tell when those brighter days will come.

Some days you just have to keep going.

As long as you don’t give up on yourself… as long as you’re still our here breathing… your story still has a chance at a happy ending.


Find The Tiniest Thing To Be Grateful For

Even though I was riding around in a hideous car that was forest green with a trunk that didn’t close, I no longer had to pay $1000 a month to maintain my car. I would never again have to worry about fixing breaks for $850 or windshield wipers for $125. 

Because I had reduced my spending by so much simply get getting rid of one large monthly expense, I was able to stop working as hard as I was.

Slowly, I started to regain my sanity, feel like myself and rebuild my life.

I was grateful for that opportunity… and my tribulation became my testimony.


Are You Ready To Rise From Rock Bottom?

  1. Listen to my full debt story on the podcast that inspired the Rise From Rock Bottom series. 

  2. Build your skills and discover your passions with a FREE personal development class

  3. For more fun stories and tips on how to improve your life, grab my book Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.


About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.