Goals are important, there’s no doubt about that. But how many people really have them? Before we talk about what goals really are, we must first talk about what they are not, and that’s wishes.
Wishes are the bane of goals and accomplishment, they’re fluffy, flaky thoughts with no real definition. Wishes are what people dream about, but never take the action required to make it a reality.
Let’s say you walked down the street today and asked every person whether they had goals or not, I think this would be a likely outcome:
- 95% would either have no goals or wishes.
- 5% would have a clearly defined goals with a timeframe to achieve them.
That 5%? They’re the so called ‘lucky’ people who seem to have it all going for them, the things they touch turn to gold, they have the ‘perfect’ life. Why? They set goals, and you can too, take a look at how effective it is:
How Effective It Is
Imagine if you were in London, and someone told you that there was a suitcase on somebody’s front doorstep filled with £1,000,000 in cash, and if you found it, you could have it. Now if you simply went looking, you could spend months, years or even your whole life looking, but never actually finding it (London is quite a big place!). But what if you were given you a map with the directions printed, or even better, a GPS, how quickly could you then find it? You could walk straight to it.
That’s the power of goal setting. Instead of wandering aimlessly with no real intention, you can draw your own map and walk straight to your destination – your goal.
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” – Fitzhugh Dodson
How It Works
I think that goal setting is often made out to be some mysterious process, I’m here to argue that. You may have heard of the Law of Attraction, and fundamentally that is goal setting, but it’s quite ‘airy-fairy’, real goal setting is much more practical. In fact, it’s so practical that it can be explained in physiological terms. In the root of your brain you have what is called a Reticular Activating System (RAS), which performs the laborious job of filtering out 99.9% of all sensory inputs to prevent you from going insane. That last 0.1% which it doesn’t filter out is everything you pay attention to in the world around you.
Now it doesn’t always focus on the same things, it reflects what’s happening on the inside, namely your thoughts. If you’re thinking about blue cars and one drives by, you’re almost certain to notice it. However if that car was brown then you might just ignore it. The same process applies for goal setting. If your internal thoughts reflect your goals and desires, then you’ll align your vision (RAS) to take in anything in the outside world which might help you achieve those goals.
The process of goal setting is the alignment of your thoughts with what you truly desire, so that you can pay attention to the opportunity in the world around you.
The Process Of Goal Setting
I’ll go through a goal setting process which I’ve used before to help determine my own passions and wants, as well as ways that I can go about achieving them. I hope that it may provide the same benefit to you that it did to me!
1) The first step is to start in gratitude. Without knowing of the abundance you already live in, it will be hard to stay human on your pursuit to an epic life. Take a few moments to reflect on your achievements so far in life and the things you’re proud of, write down as many as you can think of (stretch for at least 3!).
2) Next is the exciting part, now it’s time to write down all that you want, but there’s one key point to remember: you must write out everything in the mindset that it’s possible, get rid of all self-limiting beliefs and dream, let your mind wander, be a child again. Write down anything that comes to mind, whether it be big or small, important or insignificant, make the list roughly 50 items long, and remember to keep each goal positive – you don’t want any negative connotations here! This took a while for me at first, but when you open your mind the ideas will start flowing!
3) Now you’ve got to time-bind your goals. Next to each goal, write down either 1, 3, 5 or 10, representing their respective years that you require to achieve them. I’d recommend sticking to roughly a quarter of your goals with each time-frame, if they’re way out of proportion may you could adjust them?
4) Out of all the one year goals you have, select 3 which you truly desire, the ones that are most important to you. Remember that these are the goals which are most important to you – nobody else! This is your life, your dream, you are the leader of your own life, nobody else should be in that position! The list shouldn’t be focused on only one topic, say wealth, it should have a balance between all areas of life, for instance: health, wealth and relationships.
These are now your ‘Big 3′, the 3 things that give you the spark in eye whenever they’re mentioned, the ones that get you jumping out of bed in the morning, they should be the goals that your life revolved around. By all means do other things within the day, but if you only had the time to do 3 things in the day, these are the 3 goals that you would choose to make today a fantastic day!
5) It’s time to get specific. On that list of 50 you may have written down simple statements like “Visit Barcelona” or “Run a marathon”, but that doesn’t explain much. Try to write down what you really want to accomplish and by what date, write down every detail, every nuance – make it an insatiable goal. Make it a paragraph that would make someone say “Wow! This guy’s got plans!”.
6) Okay, so you know exactly what goals you’re going after, right? Now it’s time to ask the all-important question: why? Your ‘why power‘ is your doing power, without a big enough reason to achieve them, you’ll struggle to find the motivation and drive within you to stay consistent when the times get rough. Write down a paragraph next to each goal stating why you desire to achieve it. The stronger the ‘why’, the easier the ‘how’.
7) Now you’ve got to find out who you must become. Goals aren’t a pursuing process, they’re a becoming process. If you want to have more money, then you must become a human who is worthy of more money by becoming even more valuable to the marketplace, and so on. For me that’s the desirable part, although the material things are nice to have, becoming a stronger human is a much more enticing outcome. Write down a few sentences describing the person that you must become in order to achieve your goals. If your goals aren’t big, then you won’t have to become much, and vice versa.
You’ve probably heard this acronym before, but I want to bring it up here just so you can compare each of your goals to it:
Specific – This is a goal, not a wish. If someone asks, you should be able to describe it in great detail and clarity.
Measurable – If you can’t measure it, how will you know when you achieve it? Make sure you can track it!
Attainable – 1 Billion in a year? And you’re broke? Make them big enough to stretch you, but small enough to not de-motivate you.
Relevant - Remember these are your goals and should be relevant to your life. Is it worthwhile goal to pursue?
Timely - The important question here is: when? By what date will this goal be accomplished? Again, make it stretch you that little bit, don’t make it too easy on yourself.
If your goals don’t meet any of those criteria, revisit them and try to re-negotiate. If they’re not SMART goals, then there’s something missing, and for all you know that could be the key ingredient that stops you from reaching it!
By now you should have 3 incredible goals. You’ve learnt the difference between flaky wishes and real goals, how effective goals are, how goal setting truly works and finally you’ve gone through a process to set brilliant goals. Although that’s a feat in itself that not many accomplish, you’ve now got to stick with your goals until you achieve them:
- Revisit them daily. If they’re not lodged in your subconscious mind then your RAS won’t know what to look for. I like to carry around a small card onto which I’ve written my big 3, that means I can look at them occasionally throughout the day and keep them fresh in my mind.
- Rework them. Just because you’ve gone through such a process, does not mean that they’re set in stone. They’re your goals, it’s your life. If you wish to alter them slightly or maybe set a new goal then that’s fine. Passions change, just make sure you stay inspired.
- Have faith. This goes back to the self-limiting beliefs, if you dreamt them – you can achieve them. Adversities may hit you every once in a while that knock your sense of reality, but if you can still vision your goal, you can achieve it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Ultimate Guide To Goal Setting, but most importantly I hope it’s added value to your life. Let me know of your thoughts in the comments below!