Maxwell Maltz said: “You and I function akin to bicycles, unless we are moving forward toward an objective, we fall and fail.” Goal setting is one of the most fundamental elements of achieving success in life. A study conducted by some students in Harvard University proved that people who have goals achieve ten times as much as people with no goals at all. That’s because goals have a great power behind them, they get us to focus on a certain objective, and help us tap into some great potentials and abilities we didn’t even know we had.
The majority of people, today, practice goal setting. However, we still find that a great number of them aren’t truly happy with their lives. Now why is that happening? It’s mainly because no one taught them the right way of setting goals, as a result, they just end up pursuing the wrong things in life.
So… what’s the right way to set goals?
The best goal setting formula I know can be summed up in these three simple steps:
1. Differentiate between End goals and Means goals:
This is one of the most enlightening ideas I have ever come across. I learned it from the author and speaker Vishen Lakiani. It simply states that the biggest mistake we can make while setting our goals is going after means goals rather than end goals. Means goals are the goals society tells us we must achieve before finally attaining happiness; things like getting good grades at school, going to a certain college, applying to a bunch of jobs, working hard all your life and saving money so we can finally live life after we retire. These “goals” aren’t what we really desire, we merely follow them because that’s what we think will give us happiness, and by doing so, we run a great risk of chasing things that don’t bring us fulfillment in life. End goals, on the other hand, are beautiful; they represent what genuinely excites us and directly makes us happy, like being in a loving relationship, travelling around the world and contributing to our community. They fall into three main categories: experiences, growth and contribution. Experiences are what we would like to do, like travelling to a certain place, and the lifestyle we would like to have. Growth includes all the skills we want to learn, and how we want to evolve as human beings spiritually, intellectually and physically. And contribution is what we want to do for our community and how we would like to give back to the world. You can identify your end goals by asking yourself what Vishen calls the three most important questions:
- What do I want to experience?
- How do I want to grow?
- How do I want to contribute?
Try answering as if time and money were absolutely no problem to you, and remember to take only ninety seconds to respond to each question, so you don’t over think the answer.
2. Detail your goals and make sure to write them down:
Numerous studies have shown that the clearer your goals were, the more likely you are to achieve them, because clarity creates for you the drive and motivation you need to rocket towards your objective. Also, you must, in addition to your long-term goals, set short term ones (daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals) that will form check points for you that will enable you to measure your progress, and reinforce your confidence about realizing your ultimate dreams. It may seem like a lot of work to do, but at the end of the day, successful people do what failures won’t. The thing to remember is to write your goals down, as you have far greater chances at achieving a goal if it was written than if it was just in your imagination.
3. Take consistent action toward your goals:
After you have written your goals, all you have to do is commit to take action towards them on a continuous basis, even if it was just by small simple steps every day. Because after all, small shifts and successes compounded over a long period of time is what makes all the difference. And in order to keep yourself motivated, make sure to celebrate each of the small successes you’ll be making along the way, like meeting your weekly goals, letting go of an old habit, and so on. Finally, keep your gratitude on throughout your entire journey down the road of success, it will not only make you happy, but also give you enough strength to overcome setbacks you may encounter on your way.
As Bob Proctor said, we set goals to grow to them, so we’re not supposed to know how to achieve them from the very beginning; we just need to have enough faith to take the first steps. Keep in mind that “safe” and “realistic” goals will only bring you mediocre results in life, far from the true happiness we all seek. So remember: you are never too old to set bold and exciting goals that speak to your heart and bring true fulfillment to your soul.