How to Achieve Your Goals with the Power of Iteration

A few weeks ago I wrote that optimism is a key attitude that you must have to do great things. Optimism is indeed important, but it’s not enough. You still need to get good at what you do. You still need to achieve your goals.

For this, a method that I find useful is iteration. It means that instead of trying to be perfect the first time you do something, you simply aim to get better over time. You want your second try to be better than your first one, your third try to be better than your second one, and so on. This way you will eventually achieve your goal.

The development of Microsoft Windows is a good example. The first version of Windows (back in 1985) was a failure. But Microsoft learned from it and launched Windows 2.0. It was still a failure, but it was better. Again, they learned from it and launched Windows 3.0. This time it began to succeed. Eventually Windows became a dominant platform as we know it today.

As you can see, Microsoft didn’t get it right the first time. It took several iterations for Windows to succeed. Similarly, you don’t have to get things right the first time. Allow yourself multiple iterations to succeed.

Why Iteration Works

I’ve experienced the power of iteration first hand. It’s how I work on my projects. Here are some benefits of this method:

1. You won’t be afraid to start.

Mark Twain once said that the secret of getting ahead is getting started. But it’s often hard to get started. Why? Because you know you could fail, and that fear could hinder you from even starting.

Iteration works because it gives you the permission to fail. You don’t have to succeed right away, so you won’t be afraid to start.

2. You will be less disappointed in case of failure.

Winston Churchill said that success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. But it’s hard to maintain enthusiasm when you are disappointed.

This method makes you more ready to handle failures. A failure won’t take your enthusiasm away because you know that it’s just a part of the process.

3. You will learn more.

Since your goal is to get better, you will actively seek lessons to learn. You will learn more as a result.

How to Apply It

Knowing the benefits, here are some ideas on how to apply this method:

  • Start soon. It could take many iterations to succeed, so the sooner you start the better. Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you start.
  • Invest just enough. Don’t invest all of your resources right away. Instead, invest just enough and spare the rest for future iterations. The resources here include your time, money, and energy.
  • Do your best. Just because you expect many more iterations ahead doesn’t mean you may work carelessly. Always do your best.
  • Be ready for failure. This is not being pessimistic. This is preparing your mind so that you won’t be too disappointed when failure happens.
  • Learn the lessons. After an iteration, always ask yourself: how can I get better next time? How can I improve myself? Find the lessons and apply them to your next iteration.
  • Iterate quickly. The faster you iterate, the better. If it takes too much time between iterations, your progress will be too slow. So do your next iteration as soon as possible.


The power of iteration can help you achieve your goals. Keep learning. Keep improving yourself. You will eventually succeed.

Photo by Bigstock


  1. Donald, really helpful. There are so many areas where right first time perfectionism isn’t needed. Get a first version out and then have another go with what you’ve learnt. I’ve recently done a 2.0 of my own blog after reorganising the content, putting a new theme on it and adding better freebies, amongst other stuff. I reckon there’ll be a 3.0, a 4.0…

  2. This is an eye opening article. I have a perfectionistic streak and need to correct that flaw within me. These suggestions will help.

  3. A good reminder of how iteration helps in success. Failing and learning is the best way to succeed. I have used this kind of mindset in every project i have encountered and i must i have always been successful.

  4. Great Article! It’s so important to at least try with the aim of getting better. This is a very eye opening article and can change how I approach my goals to be succeessful! Thanks!!

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