how to set goals

The Art of Goal Setting: How To Set Goals The Right Way

Goals give a direction, a purpose, to everything that you do. Without them you are just aimlessly jumping from task to task and that can only lead to overwhelm, dissatisfaction and lack of success.

However, simply setting goals is not enough! You need to set the RIGHT goals for yourself.

If you ever wondered how to set goals the right way, this training is for you. It will show you the 3 must-haves of good goals (along with examples of goals) and how to avoid “fake” ones that waste your valuable time and energy.

If you want to be productive, if you want to be successful, you have to have goals. Goals give a direction to your life, give direction to what you’re doing. If you don’t have goals, you’re just going, going, going, doing, doing, doing, 24/7, without really knowing why you’re doing it and what are you trying to achieve.

But not all goals are created equal.

I find that a lot of people don’t know how to set goals. They set goals that are either way too loose or way too narrow, or they set what I call “fake” goals. So I want to show you how to set the right goals, the right way. There is no bigger waste of your time than concentrating on the wrong activity.

Let’s get to it.

how to set goals

How To Set Goals The Right Way In 3 Easy Steps

#1 – Be Specific, Very Specific

First of all, a good goal is always specific.

You hear people say, “I want a bigger house. I want a new car. I want to be thinner, I want to be happier, I want my kids to be better.”

That’s not a goal.

That’s a desire.

How do you transition from a desire to a goal? You make it specific.

What car do you want? What make is it? How much does it cost? What house do you want? Where is it? What is it overlooking? Is it overlooking the ocean, is it overlooking a garden? How much do you want to lose in terms of weight? Is it 30 pounds, 50 pounds, 60 pounds?

Make it specific. That’s how you go from a desire to a goal: making it specific.

Of course, you cannot attach a number to all your goals. Oftentimes, people want to be happier, and you cannot say “I want to be 3 points happier,” because there is no way to measure happiness. If your goals are non-quantifiable, there is still a solution: try to add some sort of a point of reference. Say, “I want to be as happy as I was in college” or “I want to be as happy as I was 3 days before.” Always add some sort of a reference so you know what you are aiming for.

If you don’t know your starting point, your end point becomes blurry.

#2 – Have A Deadline

A good goal also always has a deadline.

You want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year. You want to buy your house by the time you’re 35. You want to drive a new car by December 24th. Whatever it is, make it specific and add a deadline.

Once you add a deadline to your goals, you schedule them. Once you schedule them, you make them possible.

Your mindset is going to switch into a different direction, because now you know you have a limited window of opportunity. Now you know your starting point. You know by when you need to achieve it. Even if it takes you 10 years, it’s still a limited window of opportunity, and your mindset switches in a completely different way.

Always be specific, and always have a deadline. The goal setting formula is the following: you want to achieve X by Y.

#3 – Make Your Goals Positive

A good goal is also a positive one.

So many times, you hear people say, “Oh, I want to lose 30 pounds.” That’s specific. Good!

They might also say “I want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year.” That’s a deadline. Even better!

Now, make it a positive one! Instead of “losing”, try gaining. Try gaining energy, or vitality, or health. Try becoming more healthy instead of losing weight. Instead of watching less TV, try spending more time with your kids, or more time at the gym, or more time walking outside. Instead of checking your email less, try to be more productive and concentrate more on the task at hand. Always try to switch the negative into a positive.

The great Oprah Winfrey says it best:

If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Always turn the negative into a positive.

You’re going to be happier, because when you concentrate on the positive, when you concentrate on gaining, earning more, expanding, instead of losing, cutting off, or contracting, your mindset changes. You start seeing the glass half full, instead of half empty which helps you keep motivated in the long run.

That’s how you set good goals, the right way. Make your goals specific and positive. Add a deadline to the mix and you’ll be on your way to achieving them.

But, here’s the bad news: just because you have goals (even if you set them the right way), that does not mean they are the right goals for you.

Let me introduce you to a little something I like to call “fake goals”.

The Fake Goal Trap

A fake goal is something that you think you want, but when you dig deeper (or even worse, when you achieve it), you realize that’s not something that you actually wanted.

There’s nothing worse than putting all your efforts, your time, your resources into something, just to achieve a result that is not what you expected, or one that causes more harm than good (aka the “Fake Goal Trap”).

the fake goal trap

How To Avoid “Fake Goals”

Making sure you don’t fall pray of fake goals is a two-step process.

#1 – Consider The Journey

A goal is your destination. The journey is the process that gets you there.

Sometimes you might set a goal to achieve something, but then you completely disregard the journey – all the steps that you need to take to get there. These are the actual things that you need to be doing every day, or every week, or every month. These are the habits you need to incorporate into your routine. If the journey is something you don’t enjoy, then chances are, you’re not going to enjoy the achievement of the goal.

Let’s say that you want to start your own business. You have a nice idea and now you want to make it into a business. Your goal is to grow your business to let’s say $100,000 of revenue each year (specific) in 24 months (deadline).

But you hate marketing. You’re not a salesperson and you loathe the “whole marketing thing”. That is a problem, a major one.

If your goal is to grow your business, the journey to achieve it involves a lot of marketing. There is simply no way around it. And if you wake up every day and you don’t want to get out of bed because your day is filled with marketing and sales activities, even if you achieve your goal, 24 months from now, you would’ve hated the journey so much that you might not enjoy your achievement at all. It might not be worth it for you. This might be a fake goal.

The journey is something that you’ll be doing every day, week and month. If you don’t enjoy the process, if the dissatisfaction from your daily activities outweighs the satisfaction of achieving your goal, you have a fake goal on your hands.

If you set a goal and you also enjoy the process that you will get your there, you have a real goal. Go get them tiger!

#2 – Consider All The Consequences

You often hear people say, “I want a bigger house.” That’s awesome (I want one too :)).

But rarely do people sit down and think of all the consequences of having a bigger house:

  • Your home insurance goes up (by a lot)
  • Your taxes go up
  • You have more rooms to clean. This means either more of your own time and energy spent, or more money for a cleaning service
  • You need more furniture
  • Your utilities bill goes up dramatically

That is not to say that you should not have a bigger home as one of your goals. A bigger house is an amazing goal… as long as you consider all the consequences that come with achieving it, the good and the bad.

Often times, you get caught up in the good and the exciting and you forget to be realistic about what it actually means to achieve that goal. That can lead to the creation of “fake” goals. Goals that you get excited about, work hard to make happen only to be disappointed by the end result, because you did not consider all sides.

Here’s how to avoid fake goals:

If you like the journey, you’ve considered all the consequences, and you absolutely love everything about it, that’s a good goal; go after it.

But if you absolutely hate the journey or you don’t like it, and some of the consequences are a little bit bigger than the actual benefit, you might be having a fake goal on your hands.

Dream Big And Dare To Fail

Dream big!

Sounds trivial, I know,  but don’t set your goals to be attainable. Don’t make them “reasonable”. What’s reasonable? Everything around you,  your computer, the internet, the mouse, this blog – nothing is reasonable. If you get a time machine and you go 100 years back and you tell somebody that 100 years from now, you’ll be watching a video on this box called a computer via this thing called the internet, they’ll think you’re completely insane. They will throw you in the loony bin.

Dream big!

There is no “unreasonable”. Set your goals as high as you can. Don’t go for something attainable, because that’s not fun. Go for something unreasonable.

Make your goals “not attainable”, and then go and attain them. That’s how you move forward; that’s how the entire world moves forward.


Your Turn Now

Here’s the formula for setting goals: be specific, have a deadline, make them positive, avoid fake goals, and make them as big as you can. Now all you have to do is put it to use, set some goals for yourself and start taking action.

Question: what are your goals? Leave a comment below and let me know what some of your specific, positive, non-fake goals with a deadline are.