Over the past few years, I’ve read countless books, heard the same message from numerous speakers, and have listened to handfuls of audiobooks. The topic I want to discuss today is the importance of goal setting. If you really want to achieve the most out of your life, you need to be setting goals, and you need to be writing them down.
Let me ask you something: Do you have a list of goals written down that you review on a regular basis? If not, there’s plenty of room for growth and development for you. If you haven’t been in the habit of writing down your goals, start today. If you listen to this advice, this year might be your best one to date. Here’s a step-by-step process to help get the ball rolling:
Block off a couple hours and eliminate all distractions-
If you’re going to take goal setting seriously, which you should, you’re going to want to have a period of time that you’re not going to get interrupted. Turn your cell phone on airplane mode. Shut down the television. Find something to keep your kids occupied. Basically, you want to go into what I call “blackout mode.” You’ll want to eliminate all outside distractions so you can really focus and think clearly.
Write Down as Many Goals as Possible-
I personally like to start my in-depth goal setting sessions with a brainstorm. I want to get as much down on paper as I can. When I go through this process, I will continuously write for about 5 minutes on three different categories of goals and aspirations: Personal, Financial, and Things. I try not to hold anything back here. If I can dream it, then it goes on the paper. Don’t let your preconceived notions limit this process. You want to fly to outer space to see the world and how miniscule it really is? Sure! You want to coddle a baby tiger while riding an elephant in Thailand? Why the hell not? Don’t limit yourself here! If you can dream it and you really want it, WRITE IT DOWN!
- Personal- This is my favorite category. Take about 5 minutes and write down anything you want to do to grow personally. Where do you want to travel? Do you want to learn a new language? How about being more productive and getting more done on a daily basis? Any bad habits you want to break? Do you want kids? Want to lose 50 lbs.? Want a six-pack? How about picking up a new sport or hobby you’ve been putting off? This category is about whatever you want.
- Financial- Whether you own your own business or you work for someone else, your financial situation can almost always be improved. Again, don’t let the preconceived notions you’ve developed over your life hold you back. How much do you want to make annually? How much do you want in your 401K at the end of the year? Do you have 3 months of income stashed away for easy access? Is credit card debt limiting what you can do in your life? How much money do you want to invest this year? Next year? 5, 10, or 20 years? If you really want to be a millionaire, write it down. Most people usually don’t magically come up with a million dollars. If you’ve got a million bucks in your bank account, I’m sure this process is nothing new to you. It all starts with writing it down.
- Things- This category is where all the monetary items we want go into. Do you want a new car? What kind of car do you want? What year? What color? How about a new house? How big? Where? A new computer? A new home theater surround sound system with a 70” TV? Again, if you can dream it, write it down!
Highlight What You Want to Accomplish Over the Next Year-
Now that you’ve got a good list of things on paper, it’s time to review them and figure out which ones you want to make happen in a year. Achieving goals typically starts with the end in mind. It’s called reverse engineering. You simply look at the end goal, and then you start to dissect the process and break it down into multiple, manageable tasks or outcomes. For example, I want to be a better rock climber. This year, I want to climb at least 3 grades above where I’m at currently. I have a specific point endpoint in mind, so now I have to reverse engineer and see what kind of steps are needed to accomplish this goal, and with that in mind, it leads me into my next point.
Break It Down Into Manageable Tasks-
Sometimes when we think big, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. There’s an old saying that goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” This is the exact same process on what it takes to accomplish outlandish things. You have to break the process down into manageable tasks. After you do that, give yourself a deadline and start putting those manageable tasks into a to-do list.
Think about what needs to be done this quarter to move you closer to your goal. After that, start to think about what needs to be done monthly to hit your quarterly goal. Then break it down into weekly and daily tasks. Taking 5 to 10 minutes each night to review your goals and schedule will be the best time you can invest all day into something. This simple process will more than quadruple your production, guaranteed! Those who plan their days and accomplish the things necessary to achieve their goals will make them happen. If you’re not planning, you’re probably not going to hit your goal. Take the time to do this important step and you’ll immediately see a return on your investment.
Find an Accountability Program or Coach-
For certain things, I’ll just use will power and dedication to make my dreams a reality. However, after you’ve determined what it will take for you to get a goal accomplished, you need some sort of accountability. I’ve used things like daily to-do lists that I revisit every night. I’ve use apps like Coach.me that you can download for free on your smartphone. I’ve hired personal coaches. There are many ways to create accountability. I typically start with something that’s free, and then I quickly move into the world of paying for accountability the second I slip. If I review my daily list and there’s things I just seem to not fall through on, it’s time to bite the bullet and pay for some help. There’s no harm in getting help. If money’s the issue, I suggest you take a long, hard look at your finances and see where you can make it happen. Every single time I’ve paid for a coach, it’s been worth it. I’ve paid thousands of dollars on business coaching even when I couldn’t afford it. I drove 4 hours a month to see one of the best personal trainers in the Midwest. That was a lot of time and money I didn’t really have at the time. I’ve dropped money on an accountability coach to hassle me into getting the things done to move me closer to my goal. This is all in mindset. If you think about how I can’t afford it. Can’t, won’t, and all those negative terms need to be dropped. Hiring a coach is an investment, not an expense. With the right coach, you’ll never question your decisions.
So, there you have it. A simple process to follow to make your goals a reality. I try to do this on a quarterly basis myself. I block out the time, write down everything I want to achieve, I review where I’m at with my previous goals, I strategize a plan to make it a reality and, I restructure things if I’m not on pace for hitting previous goals. I do the things necessary to make my dreams a reality. You only live once, so live!
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