How to set goals. It should be such an easy task. For some it is. But for many of us, it becomes a daunting task. We spend time thinking about it. Maybe we even write down some things we'd like to have or wish to accomplish. Some people never even get past the "thinking about it" stage.
I've been in the analysis paralysis stage on this topic myself. I've also been in the group that wrote some stuff down that sounded like good things to have or to do. But that is where it ended. Some lists of things on a sheet of paper that probably lasted longer on a shelf before being thrown away, than the motivation to achieve which started the whole process.
But I think I can help you with breaking that inertia. After all, we know that all successful people have targets in mind before beginning the drive for them. We've seen articles and read books on the techniques of how to set goals.
I think the roadblock is very similar to the one we exposed in the three part series about "The End Of Overeating." In those pages we showed not only how to break that health debilitating cycle, but why it is so hard to do. We highlighted industry sponsored roadblocks and we wrote about how your mind is actually given sensory cues that cause you to overeat.
If you stay with me on this page I will give you ideas about why setting goals can be a challenge. I'll give you two really good books to use as research material and also some inspiration. I'll finish with actual tactics that have worked for me and for other people.
So why is it so hard to set goals?
I think figuring out your purpose in life is a breakthrough moment. I started this page with that Mark Twain quote to set up the theme of this page.
I think beliefs are most important in figuring out how to set goals. I don't mean belief that your favorite baseball team has a chance in the World Series.
I'm writing about deep down, core beliefs. These are the things that form the principles in which you will live your life. They become your philosophy for life. Your beliefs set the bar for what you determine to be right and just. The principles your beliefs have established will drive you to a higher achievement or they will allow you to rationalize in your mind why it is OK to just go halfway or to cut corners. Edwin Louis Cole writes, " Private philosophy determines public performance."
You'll never be able to achieve any goal that doesn't align with your true core values. And you'll never reach a goal you'd really like to reach, if getting there would require you to violate a core belief that sets your highest principles.
There are two sayings that finally pushed me past the "ready, aim, aim, aim, aim" position. I never got to the "fire" stage for a long time. I'll give you both of them now.
" Faith is believing what you cannot see will come to pass. Fear is believing what you cannot see will come to pass."
"You are sitting with your best friend and worst enemy. You."
I will admit to you that at times I now use the "ready, fire, aim" approach. But that is better than waiting and hoping for something to happen. I know that for good things to happen, I must make them happen.
So first off, see the future you'd like to enjoy. If your vision is better heart health, your plan for how to set goals may not be centered around losing twenty pounds. That lower weight may not align with your beliefs. But maybe losing twenty pounds will help increase your odds of watching your grandchild graduate from high school.
When it gets tough as you sit in a restaurant and see those overloaded plates of great-smelling food, the belief that this food is leading to high blood pressure may not drive you to pick something else. But if your written goal is to lose twenty pounds by a targeted date, you may see that same plate as a load of empty carbs and excess sugar that is robbing you of that seat at your daughter's wedding..
If your written goal is to increase your household income by $800.00 per month and your core beliefs have formed high moral principles, you will pass on the easy chance to skim a few dollars here and there from your boss. It may be easy and sure, no one may notice. But what you do in private determines your true character. And eventually private misdeeds can become public embarrassment.
So the first step in how to set goals is to determine what you'd really like to achieve. By really, I mean what fits into your set of core values and beliefs. That doesn't mean settling for less. Good is the enemy of best. There is nothing wrong with wanting all you can get out of life. As long as you go about it within a true moral pathway. And if you strive to earn a fortune, that means you can give more to important charities. 10% of a lot of money will go further for the Muscular Dystrophy Association than 10% of a little.
I've used the following image in a couple pages at books-empower.com. It certainly fits here. It comes from the master of goal setting, Stephen Covey. I believe "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People" is the best goal setting book ever written. High praise indeed because there have been some great editions published on this vital topic.
The next roadblock to setting goals is knowledge. Or the lack there of. That one held me back fairly often. How to set goals isn't a one time question. A successful life requires continual learning. As you learn more, you'll add new visions and that will mean new goals. It has been proven over and over that reading books and acquiring new skills keeps your mind sharp. It is a sort of hedge against conditions affecting the brain due to advanced age.
When I decided to build this website, I debated it in my mind for quite awhile. I'd never done it before and I'm not HTML savvy. But I knew the idea for the website fit my core beliefs. I knew I wanted to do at least a little to promote the vast knowledge found in books. I'd heard so many people tell me they hadn't read a book since high school and in the next breath complain about their lot in life.
I was fully aware of the history of heart disease in my own family and my reading indicated how truly reversible heart disease is with the proper direction.
I knew I wanted my daughter to avoid some of the financial mistakes I had made years ago and figured there could be others who could use the same information. So I gathered some information and launched books-empower.com. It still has a ways to go, but the goal was aligned with my core belief in providing a service to other people.
The knowledge was attainable so there was no reason for procrastination. If you're stuck in this area, please read "Eat That Frog" by Brian Tracy. He is to breaking through procrastination what Stephen Covey is to goal setting. The very best teacher.
If one of your goals is to increase your income, you'll find an excellent resource from Brian Tracy in our list of classic books. Please don't shy away from this book based on the title. "21 Success Secrets Of Self Made Millionaires" will work for you regardless of the level of income in which you desire to reach.
You understand your core beliefs and how they form your principles and direct your philosophy of life. You realize the missing knowledge is available at your fingertips. The next step is action. What you think in your heart determines what you become. How to set goals becomes much easier now.
See in your mind what you want to accomplish. Then write it down. I know you may not believe this, because I didn't. But it is true. If you write down the vision, your mind will begin to work on a solution. It is up to your belief in yourself to act on the solutions from your brain.
Then break down the vision. You'll do this for every particular goal set in your life. Finances, relationships, health; all of them get their own set of goals. The goals are aligned with your established vision which fits with your principles. Which are determined by your beliefs. Have I mentioned that enough yet?
When you get to this point, it will flow quickly. I'm sure you may not have much faith in that right now. But that may be because you are clinging to past experience. You have a new slate now.
Break each section into short-term goals first. What can you do in the next thirty days to get closer to your end vision. Then write down what you need to do each day during that month to move forward. Maybe it is to just turn off the television for a half hour to read some information you need to learn. Maybe that half hour is for a walk to begin the heart-health regimen.
Make the daily goals attainable but not so easy that there is no real effort required. Keep track and adjust as needed. An airplane never flies a direct route. There are always minor course corrections till they arrive. It will be the same for you.
Do the same for your monthly goals. Course correct for the next month so you stay on the right path for your yearly goals. You did know you needed to plan out for one year, didn't you?
Short-term goals are for one month and then one year. Daily mini-goals support the short-term goals. You will also write down a five-year goal. Unless you only need one year to achieve that goal. In that case set some more. You know how to set goals and you know they will work because you just did it.
I would recommend three more books for you to back up this page. I referenced Edwin Louis Cole already. His book, " Treasure" is a short little book packed with great information. You'll learn more about setting your life's vision and making a positive difference. I read this book several years ago, but still open it up from time to time for a refresher.
I've mentioned "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People" already. I told you that it was the top choice for goal-setting knowledge. But in my opinion, as great as that book is, Stephen Covey wrote an even better one. "The 8th Habit" is a sort of followup to that goal setting gem, but it goes so much farther. I think everyone should read this book as soon as possible.
Much like our young people do not leave school with proper, (any?), financial literacy, I also believe schools fail to teach how to set goals properly. The focus is on test taking. As our child's most important teacher, it is up to us to provide them with these clear advantages.
So there you have it. How to set goals doesn't have to be a challenge anymore. You know that your vision must align with your beliefs in order to reach any goals. You know they must be written down. You know you need to monitor the progress and make course corrections. You know any missing information on a particular subject is available.
You are placed in this world with talents. When you discover your "why", you'll unleash those talents and make a positive difference. You will if your values are true and your vision is clear.