Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Setting Goals

Before you read any further, just humour me.  In the next 10 seconds, please write down the number one goal you are working towards.  Not a goal set by someone else, but a goal you personally subscribe to and are trying to achieve.


I can already hear the complaining voices.

"10 seconds is not long enough.  I need more time."  Is your goal that complicated?  I didn't say give me chapter and verse of the goal.  Just write down what it is.

"It's not fair!  I need longer to work out which of all my various goals is number one!"

Did either of those thoughts occur to you?  If not, congratulations!  You are already very much closer to achieving your number one goal than almost everyone else who is reading this article.

But if you didn't manage to do it, don't despair.  You are not alone.  The reality is that very few people truly set themselves goals and persevere in trying to achieve them.

The reason I gave you such a tight time limit is to stop your subconscious mind from cheating, thinking up a goal and then convincing you that this is a goal you set yourself some time ago.  No, I am not joking.  This IS the way all our minds work.  There are many psychological experiments that have been conducted which prove our minds manufacture memories that support and justify views we now have.  So if your subconscious mind thinks that it is important to you to know that you have been working towards a goal it will happily create that goal and then give you a false memory of having set yourself that goal and even of having started working towards it.

I have read somewhere that only 3% of the population set goals, and only 1% write them down.  If you couldn't complete the exercise it doesn't mean you are a failure, just that you are very similar to virtually the whole population.

Let me ask you a question.  Imagine your favourite team is trying to score a goal.  The trouble is, for some reason every member of the team has a mental block and cannot see where the goal is or remember where it was before they lost sight of it.  They don't even know where it should be, as the shape of the field has changed, so there is no longer a logical place it could be hiding.  How likely do you think it is that they will score the goal?  If you have said anything much above 0%, please go to the back of the class!  Ok, you are not in school, this is not a class, and I am not a teacher, so you don't go to the back of the class - just try again!  If you want to score a goal you really do have to know where that goal is!  Otherwise you will never score.  That is not rocket science, just good old common sense!

It is the same with personal goals.  If you don't know what your goal is, why be surprised that you never achieve it?  If you really have a clear personal goal and really are trying to achieve it, you will know what that goal is and writing it down in 10 seconds is no problem at all.

So the first step in achieving your goals is to set them in the first place.  Set REAL goals.  Ones to which you can really commit.  And the first step in setting them is to write them down and study them carefully.  Look at each goal in turn.  How do you feel when you read it?  Does it excite you?  Energize you?  Make you feel really happy?  Enthusiastic?  If it does, put a tick by it; that is a real goal.  If it doesn't, cross it out; it isn't a true personal goal for you.

Even if you completed the first exercise and are congratulating yourself for being in the top 3%, still do the second exercise.  If the goal you wrote down doesn't come up to scratch, then put it aside and find out what your real goals should be.

For some people this little exercise works first time.  If it does for you, great!  You have found your goals.  Now you just need to go through them prioritizing them.  Once you have done that, focus on your number one goal.  Write it out really clearly and neatly.  Ideally, do that on a piece of A4 paper in landscape view, with nice big writing.  And draw a neat border around it.  Focus on it every day, making sure it is in your mind so that you can begin to make progress towards it.

Now you are not just in the top 3%, but in the top 1%.  The 1% who not only know what their number 1 goal is, but have also written it down.

I am not going to tell you the story of the 3% of Harvard or Yale MBA graduates who made ten times as much as the other 97% combined, simply because they wrote down their goals.  Sometimes it has been reported as Harvard and sometimes as Yale.  It doesn't really matter which one you say, as the story simply isn't true even though you will find it all over the internet.  But it also doesn't matter that it is not true, as it IS a parable, and it is a very good one.  Myths and parables are very powerful, and you should learn to utilize that power.  Write down your number one goal and you WILL have a much greater chance of achieving it.

Communicate your goal to someone, along with the steps you are going to take to achieve it.  That is really important.  If you communicate your goal and the actions you have committed to taking you will have an even greater chance of achieving it.  Don't do this with someone who is likely to be dismissive and tell you that you are silly to have such a goal.  Ideally you should find an accountability partner, and you should then share your goals and action steps with each other.  If you are unable to do this, then share your goal and actions in the comments section of this blog, and simply imagine all the readers of my blog holding you accountable.  When you have completed the steps, communicate that you have done so.  When you have achieved your goal, communicate this too.

Unlike on the football field (or ice hockey rink, or whatever image sprang to your mind when I asked about your favourite team), life goals don't stay in the same place forever.  They change position.  So you need to keep on top of your goals.  A goal that used to be your number one goal may no longer be right at the top, or may even have been replaced altogether.  Perhaps it is no longer relevant.  Or perhaps you have now achieved it, or as much of it as you need to achieve.  We are a very adaptable species, so adapt!  Find out what your new number one goal is.

There is a lot more I could write about setting goals, but I think this is enough for now.  Explore your inner self to find the right goals, identify the number one goal, write it down, communicate it, and keep focused on it as you go through life.  Believe me when I say this one exercise will make an enormous difference to your life!


  1. My goal number one is to get well of my pain of back, hip and legs.

  2. I am sure you will achieve this if you focus on it properly. I wish you success!