Do you set goals for yourself? Without goals, you are like a thoroughbred racehorse cooped up in a stable, a Porsche 911 without a steering wheel, an archeologist without a shovel, or a championship football team without a playbook. In other words, you severely limit yourself by not having goals.
The Importance of Goals
Why are goals so important? Without a clear vision of what we want to achieve, we will be unable to reach our full potential. Without a vision of what we want, we have little hope of creating an ideal relationship, finding a dream job or acquiring whatever else we think will bring us joy. Most important, without goals, we are unable to unleash our vast store of subconscious resources that have the power to help us create our ideal world. Without a clear target, our efforts are likely to be haphazard and ineffective. Identifying clear goals allows us to bring all our resources to bear to bridge the gap between our present condition and our desired outcome.
Steps to Becoming a Master Goal-Setter
Take the following steps to become a master goal-setter.
Step 1. Believe you can have what you want. The most important difference between those who achieve their goals and those who are not happy with their lot in life involves the degree to which they believe it is possible for them to get what they want in the first place. High-achievers are convinced they can meet or surpass their goals, while low achievers are equally certain they cannot, and as a result often avoid setting goals in the first place. Since our thoughts define and reinforce our reality, both ways of thinking prove right in the end. It might not be easy to shake self-limiting beliefs, but they are the only true barrier to achievement. Choose to live in a world where it is possible for you to reach your goals.
Step 2. Since you can have whatever you want, shoot for the moon. Many people will encourage you to set only “reasonable” or “realistic” goals, perhaps because they don't want you to feel hurt or disappointed. Instead, challenge yourself to set some outrageous goals. If the highest achievers got that way by challenging the perceived limits of possibility, should you trust what you or your friends think is reasonable? The most notable men and women in history vigorously embraced “impossible” goals and the rest of the world got in line to buy their inventions and thus conformed to their reality.
Step 3. Passion-test your goals. If you are not 100% in love with a goal, stop and evaluate whether or not it is actually your goal. If you experience any hesitation, chances are good it might not be what you really want, or it might be someone else’s goal for you. Our authentic goals fill us with passion and energy, inspire those around us, and may even keep us up at night because we are too excited to sleep. If you do not feel this way about your goal, consider letting go of it. Until you get honest and real, you will not be able to discover and awaken your true passion.
Step 4. Write down your goals. There is tremendous power in taking the time to put your goals down on paper. Doing so helps us gain clarity and vision. It is an important step in making our thoughts a reality and offers an inspiring record of the power of the goal-setting process.
Step 5. Visualize already having achieved your goals. Close your eyes. What do you see? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How does it feel? Take a few moments each day to make your goal come to life in the stillness of your mind.
Step 6 . Break bigger goals down into smaller, manageable steps, but do so with caution. Researchers have found that focusing too much on the success of achieving sub-goals can distract you or sap your motivation to take further steps towards achieving your primary goal. Always keep your ultimate goal in mind while moving forward by frequently revisiting Step 5.
Step 7. Get a goal buddy. Share your goals with each other. Identify some specific action steps you will take each week to move forward, and report to each other on your progress. If your goal buddy doesn't think your goal is reasonable or possible to achieve, find a new goal buddy.
Putting these principles into practice will unlock your passion, open doors you never knew existed, and help you create the life you always wanted. Resolve to become a master goal-setter and start getting more of what you want.
I am a financial psychologist, author, associate professor, and founder of the Financial Psychology Institute at Creighton University Heider College of Business; follow me on Twitter at @DrBradKlontz.