A Simplified Way to Set Goals That are Meaningful and Motivate You to Take Action
Do you ever find it extremely challenging – if not almost impossible – to accomplish your goals?
Some of your goals may feel incredibly important, too.
For example, maybe you’ve set a goal to earn more money this year. Or perhaps you and your spouse have decided to incorporate more exercise into your routine in order to lose weight and feel better.
These types of goals are clearly crucial in determining the trajectory of your entire life.
What many people don’t realize is that successful people follow a specific goal setting process to ensure they achieve what they desire with greater speed and ease.
Whether you already have goals you’re pursuing, or you’re still deciding what these will be for you, regularly reviewing and updating your goals using the process outlined below will help you recharge your motivation and sense of purpose – and move you closer to achieving success with every action and decision you make.
Setting goals can help you to stretch and grow in ways you probably never would otherwise
One of the greatest things about being human is that we’re able to dream of the future and live in the present. Just ask any top-level athlete, successful business person or achiever in any field – they ALL set goals.
Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation, focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your life.
Powerful, long-range goals can also help you move past short-term obstacles, which increases your chances of actually achieving your goals.
Principle 1: Clearly identify what you want to accomplish
Imagine leaving your house today and getting in your car. You have all the power and resources you need in that car…
You have the keys, there’s air in your tires and gas in your tank. You have plenty of time and there are roads going everywhere you could possibly want to go.
But even with all of this at your disposal, all those roads, that power, and the time you have to devote to this trip simply cannot produce a result you really want, unless you have a clear goal in mind to create the life you want.
Being clear on what you want to create for yourself means you know which direction to go. You know what your goals are and you can actually end up in the place you would really love to reach!
Here’s how to create clear and compelling goals for your life.
The first and most important question you can ask to move in the direction of your goals
So often, we set goals based on what we think we should do or what we think we can do. Or we set goals based on the expectations of others – our parents, spouses and so on.
Instead of being motivated by feelings of obligation and playing it safe, how about asking yourself this simple but incredibly powerful question…
“What would I LOVE?”
Don’t hold back in answering and don’t answer based on what you currently think is possible.
If you could go where you want to go, where would that be? If you could give what you want to give, what would that be?
If you had complete financial freedom, what would you want that money to do? Would you want money to help your kids go to college? Would you want to build that house for your parents you always wished you could build?
So if you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, it’s time to re-energize and evaluate your goals!
Once you know what you’d love and you have a clear vision of what you’d like your life to look like, set goals that are in service of that vision.
5 questions to identify the right goals for you
Many of us, when we have a goal in mind, ask the wrong question. We ask,
“Am I worthy of this goal?”
The real question is,
“Is this goal worthy of me?”
You’re worthy of any goal you can conceive, because the universe deemed you worthy by giving you life! You live in an abundant, giving Universe that seeks to support you in achieving your highest good.
It’s also important that the goals you put your energy into are in alignment with your purpose and core values.
Ask yourself the following five questions to find out if a dream you have is worthy of you:
1. Does this goal give me life?
When you imagine that you’ve achieved your goal, do you feel more alive? Or do you feel contained or constricted?
2. Does this goal align with my core values?
When you put your head on the pillow for the very last time, will this goal matter to you? A goal worthy of you will never ask you to be out of alignment, to mute or to sacrifice your authentic true values. For example, if one of your core values is to live a healthy lifestyle, pursuing a dream to run a marathon would be in alignment with this core value.
3. Is this goal going to require me to grow?
The Talmud says every blade of grass has an angel leaning over it whispering, “Grow, grow, grow.” Life is all about growth; it seeks to expand through every outlet. That same pull of becoming is in you because YOU are an outlet of life! A worthy goal is one in which you’ll be required to stretch beyond your current comfort zone and step into a larger dimension of yourself.
4. Do I need help from a higher power to achieve this goal?
If you already know every single step you’ll need to take to achieve this goal, the answer to this question is “no.” If you know what you want but have no idea how you’ll get there, then yes, you will need help from a higher power… making this a worthy goal!
5. Is there some good in this goal for others?
The universe cares very much about experiencing life through you and also everyone else. We’re all connected. There is one presence, one life, one “uni-verse.” So your goal, in order to have the full weight and support of the universe, must in some way make a positive difference.
Even if your strongest dream is to find the love of your life, it’s not selfish. Whenever you see any two people in love, the radiance of that love is a blessing to everyone around them.
As you create your goals for the future, I invite you to evaluate each one by asking yourself the above five questions. If you answer “YES” to all five, then the goal you have in your heart is worthy of your time, attention and energy.
Principle 2: Write your goals down
According to a study cited on Forbes.com, people who describe or picture their goals in great detail are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t.
One of the best ways to set goals is to think about what you would love the most, down to every single detail, including how you’d feel once you’ve reached your goal, and write it all down. This is because writing down goals improves your “encoding” process.
Encoding is the biological process by which your brain analyzes your thoughts and perceptions. It’s how decisions are made about what gets stored in your long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded.
In other words, when you write your goals down, they have a much greater chance of being remembered. And not only does writing things down help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on what’s truly important to you.
“The act of writing down one’s major purposes forces one to be specific as to its nature.” – Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill spent 25 years interviewing 500 of the richest men in America of his generation, distilling all of that wisdom into his book, Think and Grow Rich.
While I highly recommend reading the book, the first step in his goal setting process is to write down your goals. In addition, he stresses the importance of writing down the action steps you’ll need to take that will lead you to achieve your goals.
For example, if your goal is to earn more money, be sure to write down all the habits and practices that will help you get there.
While Napoleon Hill focuses on goal setting as it applies to financial success in this particular book, the same steps can be applied to any goal you set out to achieve.
Here are a few more of my favorite books on personal transformation.
Principle 3: Choose the right support system
Highly successful people choose to spend as much time as possible with positive thinking, success-minded people who are not only seeking to become the best versions of themselves, but who are actually encouraging others to be their best selves, as well.
Like a beacon in the night, shining brightly through the misty fog, success-minded people help you to reach your goals. They know which direction to travel in and how to circumvent often-perilous waters to ensure survival and ultimate success.
I recommend that you take a moment to think about who you spend most of your time with. If you’re NOT spending the majority of your time with people who are highly supportive of your dreams, I encourage you to find ways to surround yourself with these types of people.
When someone knows what your goals are, they hold you accountable by asking you to “give an account” of where you are in the process of achieving that goal.
Accountability is essential to the goal setting process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times, the answer is no. A goal isn’t as powerful if you don’t have one or more people who can hold you accountable to it.
You may need to take a class, or join a program that’s all about personal growth, where the other people in that class are also interested in growing and becoming their best selves.
Principle 4: Avoid common mind traps
How many times has procrastination prevented you from pursuing and achieving your goals? Do you fear that the goals you have now won’t come true, because of the ways you’ve procrastinated or given up on them in the past?
Many of us struggle to achieve our goals because of our mindset, meaning that our way of thinking keeps us stuck.
When it comes to pursuing our goals, there’s often two parts of you at work – the part that wants to move forward toward what it is that you desire, and the part of you that argues for why you can’t.
The part of you that argues for why you can’t is your current “paradigm” – the collection of thought patterns and beliefs you have about who you are and what you think you deserve.
If your paradigm is not in harmony with what it is that you would really love to be, do or have, it’s going to be impossible to generate the results that you desire.
Even if your goals start revealing themselves, your current paradigm, by its very nature, will keep things exactly as they are.
You may start out feeling inspired by your goals, and you may even start to generate some success by turning them into your reality… but soon, your current paradigm will cause you to begin procrastinating on taking action, so as to sabotage your efforts.
This type of paradigm usually causes you to procrastinate on your goals in one of three ways:
Just as you’re about to take the action required to achieve your goals, your paradigm pipes up and says something like, “Maybe you should do the dishes first,” or “But your favorite show is on TV!” This distraction creates a delay in taking the necessary action to move forward with your goals.
You succumb to feelings of fear, doubt and worry, such as a fear of failure or fear of what others may think of you. Your paradigm will seek to derail you from taking action by telling you the reasons why you won’t succeed, so that you’ll abandon your pursuit of what it is that you would love.
3. DEFCON 1
This is when your paradigm goes into defensive HIGH ALERT and puts you in “fight or flight” mode. Most people experience fear and misinterpret it as a sign that they shouldn’t move beyond their comfort zone – but this feeling is really your paradigm trying to make sure you remain stuck.
The secret to getting unstuck…
The secret to getting unstuck is to notice when your paradigm is telling you to stay behind instead of encouraging you to keep moving in the direction of your goals. Then, recognize that there’s another part of you that wants you to pursue your goals!
If your current paradigm begins making a compelling case as to why you shouldn’t or can’t take action toward creating a life you love living, let the other side of you stand tall against it.
Fight your paradigm when it tries to dissuade you, distract you or delay you!
Tell it that today, you ARE going to pursue your goals.
Don’t believe your paradigm when it tries to convince you that tomorrow, next month or next year may be better – take action, no matter how big or small – TODAY.
Stand up for what you want!
When you do this, you begin to instill a new pattern of thoughts and beliefs (a paradigm shift) that will support you in moving forward on your success journey, instead of your old disempowering paradigm that seeks to keep you stuck.
Goals are dreams you’re willing to work for
By following the steps outlined above, you can be sure that the success you seek is attainable and serves you
Goals are the dreams that you’re willing to work for. When you set out to achieve goals that have been clearly laid out, your choices and actions take on new significance.
My hope is that, by implementing these goal setting steps, you’ll achieve greater success and a deeper sense of purpose and direction will be added to your life.
Happy goal setting!