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How to set goals the way successful people do.

Updated on September 9, 2015

In the roller-coaster ride that is life today, it is becoming increasingly usual for individuals not to dictate the direction in which they want their lives to take. Very few people are setting goals and proceeding in persistent action to achieve them. All I hear now is a bunch of excuses why there isn’t enough time to pursue short-term as well as long-term goals. Others mention the difficulty there is in juggling parenthood and personal development. Being a goal-oriented guy myself, I researched into the issue and came up with a set of goal-setting rules anyone can use to effectively decide what they want, and give them the drive to achieve them.

  • Set ‘unrealistic’ goals.

I can sense some navels popping as a response to the above statement, but that is the first step. You see, a small goal does not provide overwhelming feelings of achievement and satisfaction. The reason you want to set a goal is to feel good about yourself upon achieving it. A big goal may seem unrealistic, but it usually is what you truly desire. Life is too short for regrets, so I suggest you go for what you really want. One reverend once said, “The saddest thing about officiating at a funeral is not the death of the person, but the death of all the dreams.”


  • Have a goal that’s big enough to be worth failing for.

I can relate to this very well. I know many people do too. At one time in my teenage years I wanted to be a prolific basketball player. I was so psyched up about becoming a five star prospect in high school sports. I set a goal that I would dedicate off season time to grinding practice. Like most enthusiastic people, I only managed to train for a few weeks and that was it. When I look back at that incident, I realise that I had set a very emotional goal, and it would have been great for me to achieve it. Fear held me back from achieving my goal. I could not imagine myself being interviewed by college scouts from across the country, or even being considered for the NBA draft. My goal died because I let fear take control of my behaviour. I hope to be the last person to do so.


  • Set your personal deadline.

Now that you have set your big, emotional goal, ask yourself when you expect to achieve it. This is the most important step because without a target time/date, it is easy to procrastinate and ultimately never achieve the goal. Procrastination is the thief of time. Be clear on the date you want to go for the dream holiday, buy the new car, lose weight, or establish your new business. After that, you can now brainstorm on the necessary steps you need to take to go after your mission.


  • Write your goal on a piece of paper.

The piece of paper is your goal card. It is your own personal GPS, if you will. Write down the date of expected accomplishment. You can write however you like, but the general format is this:


“By (date, month and year)I (will have in my possession/ will have done the following)...”


The goal should be in the form of bullet points which are clear enough for you to remember, and short enough for you to go through in the elevator.


  • Pursue your dream.

This is where the masses wilt and give up. The goal at this stage seems like a very big deal. However, thanks to the goal card, it will be a lot easier to follow the direction of our desires. The magic is in carrying the goal card with you wherever you go. Read it as often as possible during the day. The psychology behind this is that the subconscious mind needs to be programmed to accommodate the new idea, so it will take constant repetition to do that. It takes an average of 21 days for something to become a habit that’s firmly planted in our subconscious mind. In the meantime, do the necessary baby steps in the direction of your goal. They are what separate you from your goal, so do not lose heart. A Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Now that you have set a goal, always think of the satisfaction it would bring you and the people around you if you manage to achieve your desire. This is your fuel, use it to achieve the greatness you deserve!

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