Reaching our goals in life can feel impossible. You know where you are trying to get to but have absolutely no idea how to get there. Having a dream to work with rhinos in Africa when you work in a factory in Scotland can seem too big, too complicated and too time-consuming. That’s why so many give up on their dreams. When I decided I wanted to become a content creator and blogger, all I knew was how much I didn’t know. But I discovered that there are in fact 3 easy steps to reach your goals using reverse engineering.

The key is to start at the end and visualise the destination. Using the principles of reverse engineering, you can then take the complete thing and dismantle it to find the component parts. You then use those smaller parts to build it back up. By using these 3 steps – Identifying your goal, Break It Down, Take Action – not only will you achieve those goals but every day will feel like a step closer and a win!

Reverse Engineering Step 1 – IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL

This is the easy bit right? Wrong. This is the most important and in some ways the hardest bit. You see, vague goals do not make for good destinations. You need to get REALLY specific.

Don’t think too much about what you think you can do, what you are trained to do, what you can afford to do. Really focus on what you want. What does that dream job and that dream life look like when you visualise it? Where is that job? How do you spend your free time? Where do you live? How do you want to live?

So, let’s use the example of working as a wildlife ranger in Africa.

Any excuse to use photos from my time in South Africa!

What Does That Specific Goal Look Like?

When you are writing down your vision – and you should write it down – your goal needs to look something like this:

  • I want to become a wildlife ranger and work with rhinos. I want to use the knowledge I gain to get involved in conservation work. I would like the job to be part safari guide and part educational. I want to physically teach people about rhinos and how they live and how to protect them.
  • In my down time, I want to travel around Africa and take photographs, surf and do mountain-biking. South Africa has the largest rhino population currently with most in and around the Kruger National park so that would be the prime area to go.
  • I would like to be paid for being a wildlife ranger and I would like to also run a YouTube channel educating people about the rhinos and showing them all the wildlife and the African scenery and my adventures. I would like this YT channel to also provide a supplemental income.
  • I want to live in safe, clean accommodation with my own space and have sufficient for food, bills, and travel.
  • I would like to have my own vehicle so I could travel in my down time.
  • I would like to have a visa that allowed me to live and work  in South Africa full time.
  • I want to have an income of at least £3,000 per month to fund my lifestyle.

That is a specific goal. It might seem quite long and involved but a dream should be a well-rounded, complex, colourful, light and shade vision in your head. You really need to be able to see it.

It also needs to be true to who you are. There is no point saying you will be happy to stay in a tent in the African wilderness every night if you are scared of snakes and are very attached to hot showers and clean sheets and beds. Be honest about what you want. Otherwise it will skew the path and you may end up in the wrong place.

Stay Focused On Your Vision

Just an additional personal tip here. Once I have established what my dream life looks like, I write it everywhere. I have it on the noticeboard in my kitchen, I have it as my screen saver on my laptop and my phone, in my Bullet Journal, everywhere. I keep it front and centre at all times so I never forget where I am trying to get to.

If you’re interested in learning more about the brilliant Bullet Journal method, check out my review of it in my blog post ‘3 BEST SELF HELP BOOKS TO ACCELERATE YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH 2024

This allows me to discard anything that is not in  helping me to get where I need to go. I might really want a red-light LED face mask at £200 but is that purchase going to help me in my goals or could I spend that £200 buying the Project24 course from Income School or a subscription to Ahrefs?

Reverse Engineering Step 2 – BREAK IT DOWN

Now for the reverse engineering bit.

Break Your Vision Down Into Component Parts

So, you want to be a wildlife ranger. Build up your knowledge of rhinos. Start a YT channel. Educate people. Apply for a visa. Learn more about the Kruger area of South Africa.

So, the next important step is to take each of those things and break them down into smaller subjects.

Let’s start with becoming a wildlife ranger. Break it down into as many component parts as you can think of. Below are just a few that first came to mind:


Once you’ve done that, break those down even further:

Course costHours of workWhere are jobs advertisedHow much do you earn?Are qualifications required?Animal knowledge
Course DurationWhere to live?Job availabilityAny upfront costs?Volunteering
Course locationTime for travelVisaEquipment to be purchased  

These are just examples of how these topics can be broken down. As another example, if part of your dream was to start a YouTube channel, you would follow the same process. Maybe it would look like this:

CameraWritingAdsSocial MediaBuild subscribersContent Calendar
LightingEditingAffiliate MarketingCanvaFreebiesConfidence on camera

And so on and so on until you have broken each topic down into its component parts.

Finding this difficult? I really recommend The Bullet Journal Method to help you identify the smaller tasks or Sprints. Use the link to purchase from Amazon

Once you have a list for all of those individual smaller goals, you can move onto the final, and most important, step.

Reverse Engineering Step 3 – Take Action

You then turn those component parts into tasks. The smaller the better. It is a lot less daunting to set yourself the task of ‘Research Wildlife Ranger course costs’ than to face the task of ‘Become a Wildlife Ranger’.

Get yourself a Notebook or set up a Google Sheet and make a page for each topic. Keeping your goal in mind, and using the principles of reverse engineering, list those smaller component parts and then write down the smaller tasks underneath. It might look something like this:

Where are jobs advertisedJob RequirementsVisa
Google ‘ Wildlife Ranger Jobs’Find ’10 ‘wildlife ranger’ job advertsResearch visa requirements for South Africa
Identify top sites or agenciesIdentify specific skills neededIdentify visa requirements for other countries where rhinos live
Contact agencies for adviceIdentify transferable skills 

Then – start ticking those tasks off. One at a time.

4 boxes on a blue background, each box has a tick inside

As you tick each one off, it may result in further tasks being added. For example, once you have contacted the agencies for advice, they may suggest other things you need to do. These will need to be broken down into smaller tasks and added to your list.

Resources That Can Help

We are so fortunate to live in a world where there are so many free resources available to you. Many of the tasks you come up with through this process of reverse engineering your goals can be completed through self-study or basic research. The internet contains a wealth of information on every subject under the sun and, no matter what your personal dream, I bet there’s a YouTube video about it.

To prove this, I typed in ‘How to become a wildlife ranger in Africa’ to the YouTube search bar and it led me to this video entitled ‘Becoming a Field Guide Level 1′ by TheMegaMatt.

Allied to this, online courses are abundant and cost-effective. Granted, you may not be able to learn how to track elephants with this method but you can do First Aid courses, how to use radios, bushcraft – other things that might be useful in the bush.

Will Reverse Engineering Your Goals Really Help?

The answer is YES. It can sometimes be hard to see progress on a day to day basis when you are working towards a huge goal or when the journey is long. Using this method means you are frequently ticking things of a list and every tick is a step closer to where you are trying to get you. The tasks you assign yourself are all leading you to where you want to be – you know that because you started at the destination. Task setting from start point of where you are needs incredible focus to avoid straying off the path.

Reverse engineering my goals took me from IT duffer to WP website owner and builder, having 3 social media platforms for advertising, monetising it, optimising it for SEO and Google snippets and generally wasting no time on things that don’t matter. My task list is still huge but I tick something off it every day. I am well on my way to where I want to be and, even better, I am enjoying the process.

Reverse engineering can get you wherever you want to go. Just be clear about what you want and what it looks like and tick those tasks off like a boss!

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