How To Set Goals With These 7 Tips

“Goals transform a random walk into a chase.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Most big ideas begin with a notion. A simple ‘what-if’. What happens next determines whether their embryonic state matures or gets buried under another to-do list.

… What if you could take that embryonic notion and place it an environment that guarantees its tiny beating heart enough oxygen for it to expand and grow?

These 7 proven steps show you how:

Success Tip #1. Avoid The Top Mistake Goal Setters Stumble Over

“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.” 
― Shannon L. Alder

Good ideas fail to become great goals — and then outstanding successes — because the natural pipeline taking them from conception to birth clogs.

Check the list below. What stage is your idea at?

  1. You dream of change, but right now you can’t see it happening.
  2. You’re toying with the idea and your imagination’s spinning with possibilities.
  3. You’re planning and prioritizing resources.
  4. You’ve nailed your motivation strategies and now taking action.
  5. You’re well on your way to implementing your idea because your system works.

Write down the number that best describes where you’re at.

Now unclog your pipeline with these questions:

  • How long have you been at this stage?
  • What’s holding you back from reaching the next one?
  • What resources do you need to keep moving?
  • What resistance are you fighting?

Success Tip #2. Goal Survival Relies On Managing This Precious Commodity

“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.” 
― Coco Chanel

The most common phrase I hear as to why goals don’t happen is: “Too busy.”

FACT: If you’re too busy today, you’ll be too busy tomorrow. Too busy next week. Too stressed next month. Too overwhelmed by the end of the season. And by this time next year you’ll be asking yourself where did all the time go?

Most people live routine lives. Same morning routines. Same travel routes. Same style of clothing. Same types of food. Same hairstyle. Same old jokes. Same routines offer the same results.

Uninspiring routines rarely inspire new ideas, initiatives or goals. The simple yet strong rubber band of old habits keeps you from breaking free of mundane routines. The result: that rubber band snaps you back to same-same results.

Any goal you want means changing your routines.

  • A new habit grows through exercising it.
  • New habits need a new energy source.
  • They require a different way of thinking to drive from possibility to reality.

How you prioritize your time towards achieving your goal pre-determines how successful you’ll be at achieving it.

Think of time as an illusion. When bored, you want to fill it up. When busy, you want it to slow down.

In a similar way, time and weather have much in common. They both pass whether you prefer drizzle or sunshine, rushing about or taking things slow.

And you cannot blame neither time nor weather for not doing what you need to do.

Success Tip #3. This Under-used Tool Is Vital To Your Success

“A dream collage is a picture of your goals. It is like your future photo album.” — Bo Bennett

Dreaming fuels ideas. Dreams offers glimpses of a different future. Dreams inspire action.

Like the warmth of a new love, the high from running a marathon, the delight of witnessing a sunrise — dreaming offers seeds of inspiration.

All seeds need planting to bear fruit. So do goals.

When buying a plant, the swing tag shows a picture of what it will become (given the right conditions).

The gardener has a vision of what to expect, what to plan for and where to plant for optimal growth. Only a thoughtless gardener would plant a maple in shallow soil. It won’t take root.

To plant goals well, you need a vision of what the outcome will look like. Think of dream (or vision) boards as your ‘swing tags’.

Whatever you want, find an image of it and plant it firmly where you can see it every day.

See yourself in this image too, relishing the experience. Keep the ‘dream’ alive and thriving in an environment designed for optimal growth.

Success Tip #4. Tap Into The Motivation Of A Long-Distance Runner

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ― Henry David ThoreauWalden

Goals inspired by intrinsic (or internal) motivation give you the reason to keep going long after the initial euphoria of an idea passes.

Things done for pure enjoyment like hobbies, socializing, running or learning an instrument come from a place of internal desire.

They bring a sense of joy. A resolution helping you stick at something long after the initial stimulus withers. We gain a sense of achievement from doing them, or from being part of something bigger than ourselves. We feel a sense of contributing, of learning and growing. They reflect our values.

When setting a goal, find your intrinsic motivation for desiring it. Search for the altruistic reason behind it. Long distance runners often support a cause. They rally behind something bigger than the act of running. Go beyond the immediate pay-off your goal aims for and see how it could contribute to something bigger than you.

For example: Setting a goal to earn more money may not have (on the surface) a higher purpose behind it. But, in linking it to your children experiencing a better education, more family holidays together or donating more to your favorite cause, then you’re creating a stronger reason to embrace it.

Finding the goal’s higher purpose can keep you going the distance.

Success Tip #5. Decode The Force Driving You

“Chaos is more freedom; in fact, total freedom. But no meaning. I want to be free to act, and I also want my actions to mean something.” 
― Audrey NiffeneggerThe Time Traveler’s Wife

The desire for prestige, money, fame — or all three — often motivates goal setting.

Yet these extrinsic (or external) motivators can clash with what motivates us intrinsically. Leaders often find employees not buying into the goal of making more widgets so the company’s bottom line looks better in stakeholder reports. Understandable.

In wanting to ‘be’ more, ‘have’ more and ‘do’ more — external desires can separate us from the values of goals that come from intrinsic motivation. In the process, we compromise and trade time and energy in the hope of getting past hurdles blocking our way.

A disconnect between internal and external motivation can lead to self-sabotage — often without you knowing why.

And when the inevitable battle breaks out between the two motivators, guess which one wins? The rubber band of same-same snaps old routines into place again.

Success Tip #6. Have A Candid Conversation

Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life. — Les Brown

In thinking about the goal pipeline, routines, time, vision and motivation, consider your goal through these questions:

  • How will you create a new routine so you allocate time for your goal?
  • What will inspire you to keep the vision of your goal alive?
  • How will you activate your intrinsic motivation so your goal fits into your bigger world view — one aligned with your values?
  • How can you use external motivation in a positive way to complement (and balance) those things you enjoy doing?

These questions need honest answers. Ones that ask you to dig deeper. Doing this gives an anchor for what is possible.

Think through the process before obstacles arrive.

Success Tip #7. Clarity Means Having A Clear Pipeline

Purpose is what gives life a meaning. — C. H. Parkhurst

When you know why you want something and how it fits in with what you value —you’ll notice a stronger alignment towards achieving your goal.

Getting what you want comes with a focused mindset and by creating space within your daily routines.

Successful goal setting means you have a clear pipeline. One designed to take an embryonic idea to fulfillment.

Having a mission-based goal helps align motivation with outcome. The richness of it will impact yourself and those around you in positive ways.

From here, write down your goal. Map out time and resources to meet it. Create a vision that inspire you. Describe your motivational strategy. Have an honest conversation with yourself.

What about your goals? What are they and how do you go about reaching them?Share your thoughts with me in the comment section below.