Last Updated: May.02.18
How to set goals that turn nothing into something?
How to set powerful goals that inspire us?
How to set goals that are achievable?
How to set goals that produce the best outcomes?
Whether we buy into personal development, we all get inspired whenever we think about goal-setting, don’t we? I’m not familiar with your personalities and circumstances, so I talk from my own experience. Even during the dark time of my life, I’ve always been fascinated by goal-setting, planning for the future, fascinated to imagine how my life’s gonna be tomorrow, in 1 year, 3 years, 10 years. Imagination kept me trying one more time, trying another way, trying until. Some say I’m a dreamer, perhaps because on the surface they see nothing accomplished, yet here this guy always talks about things that are unrealistic, impractical.
What’s the major difference between a child’s dream vs a matured man’s? A child dreams of nonexistent things during daytime, and then continues dreaming at night. A man dreams the same things at night, but wakes and goes to work to make his dreams come true. T. E. Lawrence says it best:
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
I’m a dreamer. I don’t doubt there’s a lot of truth in that. But all those years, I’ve left the kindergarten. I’ve been planning, trying, and failing.
Who can guarantee you that the next lotto ticket you buy will win? Likewise, no matter how great our plan is, there’s no guarantee we will achieve our goals the next time we try. But this I will guarantee you, even if you fail to reach your goal, you’d win the experience instead. And that, I solemnly believe, 100 times more valuable than achieving your goals.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
First, let’s set a goal. This goal requires you to sit still, remain quiet, and demands 100% of your attention.
The goal is this:
For the next 2 hours, you will sit on your chair, open the TV, and watch your favorite show. Or, if you play computer game like me (any gamer here?), play your favorite game for the next 2 hours.
I suppose that would cover 80% of the population of readers of EnjoyYrJourney.com, but if it’s YOU that I miss, please make yourself comfortable by selecting your favorite activity in this goal (Ex: surfing web, Face, online shopping, reading novel, etc.).
Remember, the rule is that for the next 2 hours, do something that is both entertaining and consuming 100% of your attention.
So are you done? Common, just bookmark this page, stop reading and do the damn thing. If it’s inconvenient for you to do that right now, then set a reminder to perform the activity later, and we’ll continue after you finish. I’m not intending to make this guide enjoyable to read. I’m not in entertainment business you know. If you want success, and seek to follow others’ guidance, you must trust the advice, do the steps.
Now that you’re done. Did you achieve your goal? I imagine you’d say “Stupid!”, and because I’m a positive guy, I’d interpret that to be a positive “Yes”. Of course! It’s a dumb question whether we can do that. In fact, we’ve done that every. single. day. for the past ___ years (feel free to fill in the void). Wanna play Witcher 3 during the next 2 hours? Sure, I can go ahead and do it now. Actually, I can play 16/7, 365 days. And what’s best? No need for me to plan at all.
And here goes your “Aha” moment. So if this one is the goal we set for ourselves, we’re 90% guaranteed to succeed, even before we set up any plan right? But why is that the case? It’s because:
1. It’s enjoyable and fun to do
2. We’ve been doing it every day so far, so no problem to continue
3. Whether intentional or not, we’ve already reserved 2 hours daily specifically for this activity (Admit it, I did)
4. It’s simple and easy. We can do it.
Do that every day for 1 year, and we would accomplish an even bigger “goal” – Wasting 2/16 or 1/8 of our waking life. Assuming we live till 80, that would be 10 years devoted to a meaningless hobby.
That’s what I did the last 10 years, messed up my life for 10 years. So, you never know a failure like me could give you such an inspiring lecture on success, right?!
Don’t you see it, there’re some major principles of effective goal-setting up there. Let’s recap. For any goal to be achievable, it must be:
1. Enjoyable & Fun to do
2. Simple & Easy. I can do it
3. Scheduled a specific time to work on it, and
4. Worked on, on a daily basis.
Inspiration is what gets us started, but Momentum is what gets us finish.
And those 4 principles are the essentials of my philosophy – To reach a destination, we must enjoy our journey.
Rules for the Game
Before getting into the goal-setting process, let’s have some rules for the game:
1. Remember the wise saying: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”
That’s the promise that the Saints and the Sages gave us. The problem is that these seers didn’t tell us “when”. So keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
2. Don’t trust your memory
Use a notebook, note app, or whatever that you always keep by your side, to dump all ideas/thoughts/inspiration relating to your goal in there.
3. Write your goal down on paper
Do NOT type it out. Write your goal down on paper. Write it, as if it’s the first time you wrote a love-letter to your
high primary school’s sweetheart (yes, I’m THAT romantic and naive, in case you’re wondering). Write it, not in a rush to get it done because Rumi told you so; but in a slow, conscious, and deliberate way, so that your mind has enough time to absorb the idea, so that, in case if you “feel” inside any unease and rebellious thought, you might spend time to think your goal over, whether it’s what you really want.
4. Don’t trust your willpower
Your willpower is limited. Your self-discipline is not everything. How do I know? The day when you graduate from this class and no longer need to read this stuff you will have the answer.
5. Have goals in all major aspects of life
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth to repeat here. It’s critical to set goals in all major areas of life, which are:
Each of these aspects stands like a column supporting a building; and if neglected, would wreak havoc on the rest of the structure. And that’s exactly what happened to me in the past (read my story here).
6. Have 1 goal only for each major aspect of life
This helps us prioritize our time/energy to work on those goals that bring the most impact on our lives.
7. Break it down
A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us started; whereas daily actions are what get us finish. How do you finish a journey of 1,000 steps? By taking one step at a time. Without a daily action plan, it’s much less intimidating, while more titillating, to drift along in our dream, rather than stepping outside to realize it.
8. Be extra cautious about relying on external help to assist you reaching the finish line, if it’s a character goal, or a personal growth goal
When I struggled to quit smoking, I knew deep inside that the challenge wasn’t solely overcoming nicotine addiction. It’s easy to remove nicotine from my body. Research (1) show that it takes around 4 days to clear the body of nicotine. The challenge was changing my self-image, my self-beliefs, my habits, my lifestyle, etc. Thus, no matter how many times I failed, I stubbornly refused (and I’m 100% honest on this) to use outside help (ex: nicotine gum/cessation drugs/chewing gum/
nicotine-free cigarette/ vaporizer). After all, smoking is just one kind of emotional bandages that I, and others, use. Unless I could get my shit together, there’s no way I would quit smoking for good, without falling in love with another addictive type of emotional bandage.
9. Don’t expect to create a perfect game plan
Are you in search of a perfect plan/strategy/time? Good luck on your quest! You’ll be forever searching/waiting, and never arriving. There’s no perfect game plan. My humble (and stumble, if you will) experience tell me that the only time I could use the word “perfect” is while looking backward, rarely forward. You update/refine your plan along the way.
Ok, you know the rules, let’s start. Goal-setting is time-consuming. Don’t expect to finish setting your goals in one session. Give yourself several days to complete all the steps below.
There are 3 phases of the process:
I. Figure out the What & Why
He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Basically, you find out:
1. What do you really want to achieve this year, next 3, 5, 10 years?
2. Why do you want to achieve this?
This first question involves a lot of dreaming, reflecting, imagination, and what-if scenarios. Let your imagination run free. Don’t let your past limits what you think you’re capable of. Don’t worry about the “how”. Brainstorm your answers on a mind map. Below are some questions to help you get started:
- Looking forward, what do you want to achieve long-term regarding your Career? Finance? Health? Personal development? Social? Spiritual?
- Looking backward, what did you do that make you regret? Which of these do you want to see change?
- What change do you want to see in the next 6 months? 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
- What was your childhood dream/s? Which one do you want to turn into reality?
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What are your strengths?
- What can you do that help make this world a better place?
After you’ve brainstormed, now we need to be certain that the goals are what you really want, by filtering them through this question:
3. If you failed to reach this goal, on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being no more trying and 5 being keep trying until you succeed, to what extent would you be willing to try again?
Get rid of anything less than 5, because you don’t want to waste your limited time on trivial matters. Keep asking this question frequently, so that you can notice any change on the journey of working toward your goal.
But, if you ignore this advice, it doesn’t matter anyway. Because you will fail a few times before reaching your goal. Failure and setback are inevitable on any dream-walker’s journey. And I believe that:
Failure is a great way of testing to see whether the goal that we’re after, after all, is what we really want. A windy day will make any smoke vanish without a trace, but can enkindle a real fire, turn it into an inferno.
Right, after you’ve done that, go back to your list, for each goal, ask yourself:
4. Does achieving this goal cause harm to others?
If yes, cross it out. My mantra is “Do no harm”. If I can’t bring happiness to others, then I at least try not to cause them misery. Although we have the right to pursue the lives we want, we must be responsible for our actions in this civilized society. My philosophy is that the best way to achieve our goal is to enjoy our journey. And we won’t enjoy the trip, if our accomplishment causes pain to others. It might be a pleasure to taste our success, but at the back of our minds, and for the rest of our lives, we’d be secretly disgusted with ourselves for what we have done.
5. Now, review your list, select only 1 goal for Career, Finance, Health, Personal development, Social, and Spiritual. Be sure that the 6 goals you select must be congruent with each other.
II. Figure out the How
(To be continued)
If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!
and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!
(1) Raja, M., Garg, A., Yadav, P., Jha, K., & Handa, S. (2016). Diagnostic Methods for Detection of Cotinine Level in Tobacco Users: A Review. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 10(3), ZE04–ZE06. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2016/17360.7423