The Importance of Setting Goals

This is a very simple but important way to achieve the success you want.


Create and use 3 personal goals to focus your attention and energy.

As with most of these tips, there are all sorts of books about how setting goals can focus your attention and help you achieve greatness. Some of these go into great detail about how to set goals in all sorts of different areas and different time-frames. Some authors even suggest breaking down your goals into smaller steps to create an action plan to help you achieve your goals.

Okay - so my guess is that anyone who is inclined to plan their life to that degree doesn't have time to surf the web for tips like this. Similarly, if you are surfing the web for tips on how to become more successful then it is unlikely that you have the time or interest to read sixteen books on setting goals so let me make this very simple.

I recommend that everyone have three goals. Why? Because three goals are more likely to be remembered than twenty-seven. Let's not make this any more complicated than it has to be.

I also suggest that everyone select a goal in one of each of the following areas:

  • Personal Growth and Development
  • Relationships and Community
  • Status and Standard of Living

The reason for suggesting these three areas is because of some of the things I have noticed in my coaching work. Time and time again, as people share their stories with me, they often include a "hunger" or desire for one (and sometimes more) of these three things specifically:

  • Acceptance - quite often self acceptance
  • Belonging - being an integral part of a group
  • Security - often manifests itself as control

So by having a goal in each of these areas, I believe you will be on a great path forward that supports increasing your self confidence and ability to influence the world around you.

Having said that, these are just my suggestions and if you have some ideas of your own - well go for it! These are your goals after all.

SMART Goals

Before going any further, let's talk a bit about having a time-frame for your goals. Some people find there is great value in having very specific, measurable, time oriented goals - often the term "SMART Goals" is used. SMART can stand for a number of different things but the most common representation is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

If you like the idea of being held accountable for your goals, then by all means use the SMART goal system. I have found that this can work very well for people who are naturally achievement oriented. For these people a relationship goal might look like: Before the end of the year I will have improved the quality of my relationship with my wife by going out on a "date" with her at least once a month. Developing SMART goals is a great way of turning desires into action and results.

Now not everyone is wired this way. So if you are not a "Let's plan things down to the last minute" sort of person - don't worry. Another equally valuable approach to goals is to create a visualization of the goals.

Goal Visualization

So if you aren't the type of individual that wants to have a SMART Goal action plan, there is another option and that is Goal Visualization.

Without getting into a lot of the science behind this, let me give you an example of why this works. Have you ever noticed that when someone close to you gets a new car, that all of a sudden you start seeing more and more of that kind of car on the road? Sure some of this may be due to the increasing popularity of that make and model but a more likely scenario is that your brain is no longer filtering out this data and is now allowing it to reach your consciousness.

The brain is a wonderful piece of work on so many levels and one of the neatest things it does is filter input from the body's senses so that we don't go crazy with useless information. Another way of looking at this is that the brain filters out the "unexceptional" from ever getting into our consciousness. The information is still in the brain somewhere but we just are not consciously aware of it. In the new car example, the brain now has a reason to notice because - someone close to you has one thus it is exceptional.

Creating visualized goals tricks your brain into sending data relevant to your goals through to your conscious level. The more detailed and specific the visualization is, the more the brain will allow you to see ways of achieving it! Notice that this requires very little active work on your part except regularly visualizing your goals in as much detail as possible. If you don't do this on a regular basis, the brain will soon relegate the goals to its "back burner" and you will again start filtering out the very data you want to help you achieve your goals.

So, if you are not a "planner" and don't want to use the SMART Goals approach - then use the visualization approach instead. Just remember that the more often you visualize your goals, the more relevant data and information will make it through to a place where you can actually take action to achieve them.

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