“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” – Andrew Carnegie
The first step to creating an extraordinary life is getting clear on what personal success looks like for you – and what you have to do to make your vision a reality.
This is where goal setting comes in. Goal-setting gives you a clear sense of direction and allows you to pinpoint the end destination of your efforts so you can map out the journey you’ll need to take to achieve your dreams and create the life you want.
I’ve personally used goal-setting to accomplish incredible things in my life – such as making my first six figures (and 7 figures almost every year since then), holding the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of books on the NY Times bestseller list at the same time, buying a home on a beach in Maui, and launching an internationally-renowned certification program for transformational trainers and coaches.
All of these things seemed completely out of reach for me at the time, but with the power of effective goal-setting, I was able to achieve them all.
Now I’d like to teach you the principles of successful goal achievement and unleash the power of personal goal-setting in your life!
What is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is exactly what it sounds like: the practice of identifying a specific goal you want to accomplish in your life and designing a step-by-step plan that will help you reach i.
Setting and achieving goals gives you a clear sense of direction and helps ensure your actions move closer to where you want to be.
Without goal-setting to illuminate the path forward, you’re far too likely to spend your time bouncing from situation to situation, always reacting to events rather than proactively guiding your life toward the reality you want to create.
Your life ends up being shaped more by people and situations outside of yourself than by your own dreams and desires.
That’s why identifying specific and challenging goals for yourself – and following a goal-setting process that breaks down your over-arching objectives into bite-sized doable steps – is the key to making your dreams a reality and creating the life you want.
Benefits of Goal-Setting
Decades of scientific research have shown that your brain is a goal-seeking organism.
When people present a clear goal to their subconscious mind, the brain will actively start seeking out information, resources, and opportunities that will help them accomplish that goal.
Sometimes these resources and opportunities seem to appear out of nowhere as if by “magic” – but the reality is, they were there hiding in plain sight all along. It’s actually you who has changed and is now able to perceive and act on them!
Goal-setting improves all aspects of your life and helps you manifest your dreams by:
- Increasing motivation: When you have a clear idea of what you want in life, your vision of what your life will be like once that goal has been achieved can help you stay motivated even when you run into potential obstacles or experience negative outcomes. You’re willing to stay the course because you’re more aware of what the ultimate payoff for your efforts will be.
- Enhances focus and direction: By keeping your goals in the forefront of your mind, you will find it so much easier to stay focused on taking action that will move you further in the direction you want to go. Goal-setting also makes it easier for you to resist distractions that might cause you to veer off track or get lost in the weeds.
- Improves performance: Setting and achieving goals helps you grow your self-esteem and confidence in your own abilities. As you chunk down your over-arching goals into smaller steps and cross each task off the list, you reinforce your own self-image as someone who is capable of successful goal achievement – and challenge yourself to tackle even bigger risks that will improve performance and lead to higher self-efficacy and in all areas of your life!
- Increases the chances of success: Goal-setting requires you to face your fears and take action anyway – and become a more capable person in the process. Goal-setting also makes it easier for you to attract the people, resources, and opportunities you need to make your dreams come true. When you’re clear on your vision and communicate your goal-setting intentions to the world around you, the universe will conspire to give you what you need to make it happen.
This is true in the business world as well, where effective goal-setting and tracking task performance has been shown to enhance employee motivation and improve organizational performance and organizational commitment.
However, not all goals – nor all goal-setting practices – are the same. Some goals are much more effective than others at helping you achieve your dreams in life.
Keep reading to discover the goal-setting process that will enhance task performance and facilitate greater goal achievement in every area of your life (even academic performance).
How to Set Effective Goals
The first step to effective goal-setting is to decide exactly what you want.
One of the primary reasons most people are unsuccessful in life is because they set overly vague goals that make it hard for them to measure progress or reach their desired final outcomes.
Others may have a clear idea of what they want their lives to look like – but they never bother to expand their goal-setting efforts to include a detailed step-by-step map that tracks goal progress and facilitates task motivation so they are able to anticipate and overcome goals and ultimately reach their end destination.
To avoid sabotaging your efforts in this way, it’s critical for you to ask:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What do you want to experience?
- What do you want to acquire?
- Who do you want to be?
By getting clear on your answers, you will avoid the trap of setting vague goals and empower yourself to make real progress in the direction you want your life to go.
Focus on the Important Areas of Your Life
The best way to implement effective goal-setting is to clarify what you want to achieve in ALL areas of your life. This will help ensure that you experience more balance and harmony in everything you do.
That’s why I always encourage students to set at least 1-3 goals for themselves in each of the following areas:
- Financial Goals
- Career/Business Goals
- Free Time/Family Time
- Health/Appearance Goals
- Relationship Goals
- Personal Growth
- Making a Difference
As you do your goal setting for each of these areas in your life, remember that small goals achieved are far more powerful than big goals that are never accomplished.
The magic of goal-setting comes from taking consistent action and experiencing the joy of success and fulfillment that comes from facing a challenge and overcoming it.
Consider Your Long & Short-Term Goals
When it comes to successful goal-setting, be sure to set many goals of different sizes so you don’t find yourself grinding away to achieve just ONE big goal – only to become disheartened by how long it’s taking and lose sight of why you’re working so hard in the first place.
I personally have a list of more than 101 life goals that I have set for myself and every day I’m working toward achieving one of them! Every time I am able to cross another personal goal off my list, it gives me a rush of energy and motivation that spurs me on to the next goal – and the next.
Implement SMART Goals
The best way to ensure your goal-setting efforts are successful is to set SMART goals for your life. SMART goals are:
- Specific: Your goals must be very clear and well-defined so that you can easily envision them and explain them to others. Vague or fuzzy isn’t going to cut it here.
- Measurable: SMART goals include specific target numbers that allow you to know when they have been achieved. (E.g., how much by when.)
- Attainable: The only to guarantee your goal-setting efforts are successful is to give yourself goals that are actually possible for you to achieve! Sure, they will likely require you to gain new skills and knowledge – but they will still be within your capacity to achieve.
- Relevant: Make sure your goal-setting efforts are aligned with your purpose and are designed to take your life in the direction you want it to go – otherwise, you may find it hard to stay motivated and focused on your goals.
- Time-bound: SMART goals include specific deadlines for completion. This allows you to create a goal-setting and achievement schedule that helps you stay on task and on target as you move closer to your dreams.
Just make sure the deadlines you give yourself make sense with your current commitments. Your goal-setting will be much more effective if you give yourself enough time to complete your SMART goals and experience the satisfaction of checking each task off your to-do list. Every step creates momentum that propels you forward to achieve goals you once thought impossible!
Decide How to Measure Your Goals
Before getting too far into the goal-achievement process, it’s a good idea to decide how you plan to track your goal progress. Effective goal-setting usually means chunking down big goals into smaller, easily measurable goals that help ensure you make consistent progress to your dreams. I recommend you set monthly and weekly goals for yourself and then break those weekly goals down into daily tasks that make it easier for you to achieve them in a time-effective manner.
Then, as you continue on your goal-setting journey, be sure to revisit your monthly and weekly goals at least once a week to keep the big picture top of mind and continue taking action that moves you forward in the direction you want to go.
Work on Your Goals Daily & Celebrate
“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
When you chunk down your goals into bite-sized chunks and take consistent daily action toward them, even the biggest, most audacious dreams can be made a reality!
But in order to benefit fully from your goal-setting efforts, you need to track your progress and celebrate each step forward you make on your journey.
I encourage you to keep a goal journal and take a few minutes every day to record your wins and the lessons you’ve learned so you remain aware of all your accomplishments. Then, when you achieve a really big goal on your journey, take the time to celebrate yourself for doing so!
This is my favorite part of the goal-setting process. Not only is it fun, but it also creates a whole lot of positive energy around the goal achievement experience and helps reinforce the idea that you are a successful goal achiever and that persistent goal-setting is the key to creating an incredible life for yourself!
10 Goal-Setting Tips
Follow these goal-setting tips to propel yourself in the direction of your dreams.
1. Be Realistic
“Overnight success” is a myth.
Real success typically follows a series of small steps and achievements that happen over time and can sometimes seem to take an eternity, include countless disappointments along the way, and challenge you to the core – your stamina, courage, integrity, and even your willingness to keep going!
So if you’re feeling at all challenged by the idea of goal-setting right now, don’t worry! It’s all part of the process. The important thing is to be prepared to learn the lessons you need to learn and keep moving steadily forward.
2. Identify Any Setbacks
If something is holding you back from making faster progress with your goal-setting and achievement efforts, take the time to figure out exactly what that something is.
Spoiler alert: it may not be what you think it is.
For example, maybe you think you haven’t been able to launch your big project because you haven’t had the time and energy to focus on it. When the reality is, you’ve been neglecting your boundaries and letting yourself get distracted with unimportant tasks instead of focusing your time and energy on your goal-setting and what really matters most to you.
Once you have done some self-exploration and identified the roadblocks standing in the way of your progress, your next step should be to identify what you must do to overcome that roadblock and get back on the fast track to your goals.
3. Visualize What You Want
Take a few minutes every morning and evening to clearly visualize what your life will look and feel like once your goal-setting efforts have been successful.
Consider what your home will look like… what kind of work you will be doing… and how you’ll spend your days once you’re living the life of your dreams. When you hold that vision in front of your mind, you will find it so much easier to remember what your goal-setting priorities are and why.
4. Write Out Your Successes (And Losses…)
Spend a few minutes each morning writing a list of what you’re grateful for in your life. Then, at the end of the day, write some notes on what went right that day.
Be sure to write down everything, no matter how small it may seem. Also, be sure to take special note of any losses you experience as well as the lessons you learned in dealing with and overcoming them.
When you train yourself to recognize and acknowledge your own achievements, you’re guaranteed to attract even more success into your life.
5. Meditate & Focus on the Positive
Meditation can help you understand that you are not your own thoughts and you can choose to detach thoughts that don’t serve your highest goals and purpose. It can also give you the clarity and insight you need to find solutions to problems and attract success into your life.
Meditation shuts down your judgmental, highly-critical brain and allows your unconscious mind to take over so you can enter a deeper state of inner peace and tap into a higher level of creativity that will help usher in the results you want. Not only that, it’s one of my favorite forms of stress relief!
6. Create the Right Environment
The best way to ensure the success of your professional and personal goal-setting efforts is to create a healthy environment that allows you to do your best work. This means giving yourself the time, freedom, and space you need to stay focused and on track.
It’s hard to get much traction with your goal-setting efforts when the house is a mess, your office is stifling and you dislike spending time there, and your mind – and your life – feels like a whirlwind of constant chaos!
You will find it so much easier to achieve success with your goal-setting efforts if you eliminate clutter and distraction from your physical surroundings and your time schedule – and embark on a regular mindset practice that allows you to remain calm and focused even when things around you get a little crazy.
7. Use the Rule of 5
Every day, identify 5 specific things you will accomplish to get closer to your goal, and don’t call it quits until you cross each one off your list.
Not only will this give you a proven structure to ensure you get more accomplished every day, but it will also give you a clear sense of what’s actually achievable in a day, so you can adjust your expectations as necessary and round up your professional and personal goals – or scale them back – to help you move forward consistently without working to the point of exhaustion every day.
8. Take Advantage of a Support System
Success is not a solo sport! You will make much faster progress if you involve other people in your goal-setting efforts and enlist their support in your cause. It’s simply not feasible for you to plan to do everything yourself.
When you delegate the tasks you don’t love which takes you away from focusing on your core genius, you will be amazed at how much more you will accomplish.
So as you consider the different tasks that will need to be accomplished at each step of your goal-setting journey, ask yourself if YOU are the best person to be working on that particular task or if it makes more sense to hire or ask someone else to do it. The more you delegate, the faster you’ll be able to reach your goal.
9. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you want to achieve goals that change your life for the better, you have to be prepared to grow! That means stepping outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself in unfamiliar situations.
This may make you feel awkward or vulnerable at times – but it’s the only way you gain the experience and knowledge you need to become the kind of person who can achieve challenging goals and create the kind of life you dream of living!
So I encourage you to feel that fear and uncertainty and take action anyway. The worst that can happen is that you’ll make a mistake and learn a valuable lesson that will help you do it better next time.
It’s all part of the goal-setting journey! And the best that can happen is you discover what you’re truly capable of achieving – which is anything you can imagine!
10. Take Action!
“Vision without action is just a dream.” – Nelson Mandela
Ultimately, the success of your goal-setting efforts depends on your ability to take action on your vision and make consistent progress towards each step on the journey – no matter what obstacles appear on your path.
So once you have a clearly defined set of 1-3 SMART goals you intend to achieve and have chunked them down into a series of monthly and weekly step-by-step tasks, your next step in making progress toward your goals is to simply choose ONE action you can do next to put your plan in motion.
Then, when you have completed that action, start working on your next, and the next. Because once you get into motion you will find it so much easier to STAY in motion and make consistent progress toward your dreams.
Before wrapping up, let’s take a look at a few goal-setting examples that highlight the distinction between a “good idea” and an actual SMART goal to inspire you on your own journey.
Setting Personal Goals
Good Idea: I would like to own a nice home on the ocean.
Goal: I will own a 4,000-square-foot house on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Califonia, by noon, April 30, 2025.
Goals For Weight Loss and Health
Good Idea: I want to lose weight.
Goal: I will weigh 185 pounds by January 1, 2024.
Setting Leadership and Business Goals
Good Idea: I need to treat my employees better.
Goal: I will acknowledge a minimum of 6 employees for their contributions to the department by 5 PM, this Friday.
As you work on your personal goals list, remember that there is no such thing as too many goals! Be sure to set as many goals for yourself as possible – small ones as well as big, long-term life-changing goals.
Remember, you get an emotional and spiritual boost every time you’re able to achieve one of those goals and cross it off your list! And that will give you the momentum you need to keep moving forward in life.
Now that your mind has been opened to the power of goal-setting, it’s time to take the next step and set your own SMART goals for your life.
And I’m here to make it easy for you – with my free downloadable DREAM BIG Guide that walks you through the process of setting some life-changing goals for yourself and taking the next steps toward making your dreams come true!