How to set goals

Shoot for the moon! 

There are plenty of blogs and videos giving tips on getting your life together, but I find them to be generic.

Yes, there are some absolutes like, “learn from your mistakes” and “only worry about what you can control.”

Those are very true, but if you’re off course what things should you control?  Are you worried about the wrong things?

There’s an “aha” moment in Indiana Jones where he says,

“They’re digging in the wrong place!”

Sometimes, you can do everything right on the wrong thing.

So let’s re-align.

Goal setting is one of the most important aspects of this. I want to define a few things before going deeper next week.

There is a framework for goal setting that many use called “SMART”. It’s a bit generic and corporate, but I want to start here before diving much deeper.

– Specific

– Measurable

– Attainable

– Relevant

– Time Bound

Specific, measurable, and attainable all go together.

Attainable doesn’t mean easy.

Dr. Edwin Locke pioneered research around goal setting, and he found that about 90% of the time, when a goal was challenging, the outcome was much better.

Let’s say we want to wake up earlier.

So we try to wake up at 7 am instead of 8 am.

 7 am is pretty comfortable and it is earlier.

That is easy. But attainable doesn’t mean easy, it means possible.

This is what a better goal would look like:

“I’m going to wake up at 5:30 am every day for one month.”

You could even do 2 months, and at 60 days, you have a new habit.

All are attainable, but require discipline.

Goals like this often trigger other outcomes, like drinking less and going to be earlier. Sleep is a non-negotiable for me, so waking up earlier just means go to bed earlier. 

It’s simple math.

(Don’t roll your eyes if you wake up at 4 am every day already – this is just an example.)

Meaning Motivates

Goals are great. Now we have to achieve them.

Waking up at 5:30 is a cool and challenging goal, but what’s the purpose?

A couple of days doing this are going to have you wondering, “why am I doing this?

Well, if you are pursuing a dream job, then it’s much easier to get your butt out of bed with your sights set on that goal.

Not only is waking up earlier a goal, but the bigger goal of a job puts meaning into the now small goal of waking up earlier.

Goals spawn goals.

Identity & North Star

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

– (Quote from either Zig Ziglar, Thoreau, or Michelangelo.)

When I was training for the Olympics, I hung an Olympic flag at the top of the gym.

It helped remind me of my “north star.” It was a big goal that I had set, and every detail between me and that goal was automatic.

The goal was never to “work out hard” or “eat good today.”

Those became assumptions.

Identify with the outcome, and the old hard turns into the new routine.

This can manifest in the way you talk, the way you eat, the way you dress, and so on.

The key takeaway

What is your north star?

Write it down.

Then start outlining what it would take for you to achieve that.

Then shift your mindset as if you have already achieved that goal.

What would your behavior look like?

Perhaps some of your bad habits don’t fit into that mold, ya?

Take notice of your habits and routines. Start shifting your mindset into this new identity and see what sticks out.

Next week I’m going to share some exercises that helped me change my life.