4 Tips to Effective Goal Setting

4 Tips to Effective Goal Setting October 19, 2018

It’s hard to know what to do. Even when we figure it out, it is hard to stay motivated to do it. And even if we do it, it is hard to know if what we’ve done mattered at all (therefore, it is hard to keep doing it). Thus is the human journey of goal setting.

We struggle with planning, motivation, and follow-through. And those are just the big ones. The tide of complacency comes at us like a tsunami, tempting us with Netflix and social media apps.

Yet, the process of goal setting remains essential to human design. How can we breathe new life into the stale process of goal setting? How can we overcome the challenges and obstacles that make apathy rampant in our lives? Here are 4 tips to re-activate your pursuit of goals.


1) Keep the Vision

It should go without saying, but it doesn’t. The biggest mistake we make when setting goals is a short-sided approach that forgets the true reason behind the goals. This is why motivation is a factor. We set a goal to put out a fire or in a momentary fleeting pass of ambition.

The only thing that can motivate us to achieve our goals is a proper vision. Something we are committed to. Something that really matters to us. If you do not have a named vision that matters to you, your goals are destined to be washed away by the changing tides of circumstance and season.

Vision determines and drives our goals. The only way to set effective goals is to have a vision and the only way to achieve our vision is through goal setting.


2) Set a Timer

Believe it or not, the biggest goal setting mistake is a very easy fix.

Most of the time, our goals sound something like ‘lose weight’ or ‘make money’ or ‘exercise’ or ‘learn a language’. The problem with this is that there is nothing holding our feet to the fire. We can do nothing for six months and say we are working on it.

Our goals need to have a timer on them. I’m going to take language classes for six months or exercise twice a week for a year, etc. The noise and patterns of daily life make it really difficult to change our behavior. If we do not put a timer on our goals, they will drift out to sea but still be considered “in process”. We need to draw lines in the sand to keep us moving and to measure whether or not we’re truly making progress.


3) Double Down

Want to hear something crazy? If you write down your goals (rather than just thinking about them) you are about 42% more likely to do them. Just by writing it down. You almost double your chances just by putting the words on paper.

Why? Two reasons. First, writing it down makes it real. It puts it out there and makes it harder for us to ignore.

Second, it doubles the brain space allotted to it. Our right brains are conceptual and imaginative. Just thinking goals keeps them in this hemisphere. Writing it down is a left-brained practice. The left brain is the practical, logical part of the brain. By writing it down, we literally activate another half of our brain.


4) Don’t be afraid

Fear  is a very real adversary when it comes to everything in life, let alone goal setting. We do not want to make a mistake or look stupid. We are allergic to failure, deeply concerned it might define us.

Failure is an opportunity and a great teacher. We live in a fear-based culture, but you have to decide how much to submit to it.

The other option is a ‘create something’ culture. If you want to create, you have to see rejection and failure as a refining fire, the crucible which tests and molds your vision into reality.

Try it. Do it. Stop waiting around for a short cut to show up and ring your doorbell. Get to work. Set a goal. Live your vision. It won’t happen any other way.

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