Setting goals isn’t easy. Actually, settings great goals isn’t easy. And that is what you want, great goals. Great goals are goals you really desire, have some passion for and will be happy making progress to meet them. If a goal is more about just the end result and you are afraid of what it takes to get their, its not going to be a great goal and its likely not going to work either. So, its best to look at setting great goals. And this article is about a way to actually go about doing this. I use it and it truly works.

Background to Identify Goals

Everyone makes decisions every day in life and everyday those decisions are based on the pain and pleasure that you believe that choice will lead to. That is exactly what leads to your decisions and its helps to really recognize this and to use it to your advantage in goal setting. The process outlined here is based on using those beliefs and really understanding the impact of them in the sense of pain and pleasure to you which will help to better identify the great goals for you!

Step 1: Brainstorm a Categorized Idea List

You first need to have some ideas and areas to explore your goals. Its great to simply do a brain dump here and write down everything that comes to mind. It helps to keep things categorized, and I use these categories for goal setting:

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  • Personal
  • Financial
  • Career
  • Stuff

Spend just a few minutes in each category writing down all the ideas you have as goals in those areas. If you don’t have many, that is fine, just write down everything, its common to have lots in one or two categories and not much in others.

Step 2: Note the Pleasure and Pain Related to Each Goal

What is the pleasure you will experience in achieving your goal, what will it feel like, and how is that feeling going to help you or others? What kind of pleasures will you experience while working to obtain your goal? Note all these in point form under a pleasure heading for each of your goal ideas. This will take some time especially if you have a lot of ideas down. Make sure to think about the pleasure you will experience in getting it, having it and holding on to whatever that goal idea is. Think of how it will affect others in a pleasurable way.

Next, do the same thing but thinking of all the pain that will exist getting, having and holding onto the achievement of each goal idea. Write down the pain caused by the work involved, the risks if they will be painful, the pain you might experience to/from others in achieving your goal.

Step 3: What Belief Backs Each Goal

Use the Pain and Pleasures in a positive way. You can do this by turning a current pain into something pleasurable by stating that the goal will help you to avoid certain pain. For example, this can work well in health and dieting goals since there is SO much pain to get to the goal. Turning this around in a more positive way, lists all the pains that can be avoided like health problems, self doubt and low esteem, feeling better by achieving the goal. Not only that, but if you don’t achieve the goal, then there will be even more pain caused by further health problems, feeling bad about yourself and still not being able to control your health. These can be very powerful driving forces for goals and you should use as many of them as you can.

A goal is about a target or end, not a description of how to get there. Which means that you really need a belief as the basis to build a strong and compelling to do whatever it takes to get to the goal, the target. You need to truly convince yourself why that goal is important to you and have the believe to build on it. A belief in something won’t shatter when one step fails, you don’t stop because of little or slow progress and you won’t easily change your mind from outside influence. That’s the reason why every goal should have some deeper beliefs feeding them. Maybe these are moral beliefs or simply beliefs about happiness. Perhaps they are beliefs about relationships or how others will see you, whatever they are, a belief is powerful and can really drive goals, much more than simply thinking that you want something. Or wishing for something or even being hopeful without a real reason. Those types of goals don’t last when things get tough and difficult to achieve.

Record the beliefs you have that reinforce each goal. You may also have beliefs that hold you back from achieving your goals. Turn these around into positives and set your mind on the beliefs you will have when you reach your target.

Step 4: Rate Your Goals

clipboard-image-25.jpg Put a number from 0-10 beside each of the goals to indicate which ones you want the most, 10 being the highest. Next, make another column and put a number from 0-10 to indicate how easy the goals are for you to achieve them. 10 being the easiest. And finally, rate each one again with a 0-10 on how strong your beliefs are that backs each of the goals, 10 being the highest.

Add up the numbers from each goal which is a score from 0-30. This is an easy way to get on the fast track to picking the great goals, which are the ones you desire most, have true beliefs in and are the easiest to achieve). Pick the top 2-3 goals (highest numbers after adding them up) and make these your focus or primary goals. Put the next 5 goals or so on your list as well which will be your secondary goals. Its much easier to only have one or two goals to focus on so keeping the priority ones you main focus will help achieve them faster. Often some of your goals will relate which is great, since you might be able to work on multiple goals at a time.

So, these are your goal topics. Next is to clarify these goals and finishing settings them.

Step 5: Clarify Your Goals


Clarifying your goals simply involves writing them in a way to make them useful. The method I recommend for this is simple and called MT goals, which stands for measurable and time based goals. Measurable means you must have something you can measure your progress and completion by. Without this measure, a goal is vague and not really useful at all. Measurable is something with a number or a simple yes or no answer. This is critical since most people’s goals fail because they don’t have a simple way to measure completion and progress. Make sure your goal has a way to check for completion. For example, here is one of my goals from a previous year:

Have a reading speed of at least 500 wpm by July 1, 2007.

Its simple and easy to measure. There are software tools, online websites or you can simply count words and test your own speed. The other point in the example goal you can see is the time based part. It states when the goal will be accomplished by a specific time. This is crucial. Without a time, you have no urgency and nothing to push yourself for. State a specific date, not some implied time, or relative time, just pick a single day and decide on that day to complete your goal by.

The simpler your goals are the better. They don’t need to be elaborate, long or complex in any way. You know what they are and you already have the ones with meaning to you and in categories you care about. Try to avoid using terms like improve, increase, develop, reduce, help, change unless you have a specific number attached that you can measure. You can usually just replace those words anyway by stating the target you want, not a relative change.

Goal Setting Series

Part 1: Goal Setting – Introduction
Part 2: Goal Setting – Setting and Identifying
Part 3: Goal Setting – Tracking and Monitoring
Part 4: Goal Setting – Completing and Close

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Next: Goal Setting: Tracking and Monitoring