“Those who don’t have goals will work for those who do.” – Tony Robbins
We all know that setting effective goals is important for success. We have heard it from parents, teachers, and books. But we are rarely taught how to set them effectively and with intention.
Ever wonder why there are so many depressed rich guys in the world? It is because they set ineffective goals that were meant to bring them happiness and fulfillment, but in fact left them empty and miserable. That is why I am writing this post. I believe that setting the right goal is just as important as achieving it.
You can attain almost any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.
Okay, but why care?!
The research is clear – Those who set goals are more successful than those who don’t. Period.
However, on our road to fulfillment, it is vital that we become masters of setting fulfilling and effective goals. It is not enough to just want a million dollars in the bank or to get that promotion. You have to understand why you want that goal and how it will impact your life and those you care about.
Remember that success without fulfillment is a failure. That is why it is important to be intentional about the goals we set and then work tirelessly to achieve them.
In this post, it will be my goal help you learn to set fulfilling goals and then give you a manual to proactively take action toward achieving them.
Outline for this post:
- The Battle in the Arctic
- The Science of Goal Setting
- How to set fulfilling goals that you will actually accomplish
- The Rich Life Manual
- Your Challenge
The Battle for the Arctic
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
To reach greatness (Personal and Professional), we must be hyper-intentional about the goals we set and be willing to take consistent, daily action toward reaching them. In the great book, Great by Choice, author Jim Collins tells the tale of two arctic adventurers, Amundsen and Scott, who lead a team of men on an epic 1,400-mile race across the arctic circle to the South Pole.
The rules were simple. Get your team to the South Pole first and your team takes home the prize. Both teams would be traveling the same distance and through the same harsh arctic conditions. However, Amundsen and Scott executed vastly different strategies for getting their respective teams to the finish line.
Scott instructed his team to march as far as humanly possible on the good weather days and rest up on the days where the weather was especially harsh.
Amundsen’s team, on the other hand, followed a strict and consistent regimen of marching 20-miles every day, no matter the weather. Even on the days when his team could walk further, Amundsen strictly enforced his 20-miles-a-day rule in order to conserve energy for when his team needed it the most.
Which team do you think won? Amundsen’s.
Amundsen knew a thing or two about goal setting and willpower. By strictly adhering to his routine of marching 20-miles-a-day, his team was not relying on the whim of external forces or willpower. He created a system for his team. And his team won because of it.
You see Scott’s method is very similar to how most people set goals. We set a BIG goal and have every motivation to reach it. However, our ability to achieve our goal is too closely tied with our motivation to reach it. We do not have an effective system that will ensure our success. We rely on our motivation to get us across the finish line. While motivation can be a great jolt of energy, it is far from a constant stream of fuel.
That is where the science of goal setting comes in…
The Science of Goal Setting
Set Short Term Goals
Why do so many people fail to complete their New Years Resolutions?
In 2007 a British psychologist named Richard Wiseman had the same question. He discovered that 88% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. Among other factors, Wiseman found that the two main reasons so many people fail are (1) they fail to have a specific plan for achieving their goal and (2) they set big picture goals, rather than breaking down into smaller more manageable pieces. Wiseman concluded that in order for people to achieve their goals they needed to set a single, short-term goal and take consistent action to achieve it.
Long-term goals are rather ineffective at a day-to-day level. We need to focus on setting a single, short-term goal that aligns well with your longer term goals. For instance, my long-term ‘why’ is to help 100k people find their meaning through Fully Rich Life. However, if that was the goal that I focused on every single day, I would fail. So in order to be more effective, I set short-term (90-day) goals that are more achievable and will move me one step closer to my overall vision for my life.
The purpose of your short-term goals is to accelerate your growth and motivate you to take action TODAY rather than procrastinating.
Okay, Ben, I get that setting short term goals will increase the likelihood of achieving them, but how will this help me in the day-to-day grind of my job…
I thought you’d never ask…
They Make you More Productive
In their 1960s landmark study, psychologist Edwin Locke and Gary Latham discovered that goal setting is one of the most effective ways to increase motivation and enhance performance. Over many studies, they found that by setting effective goals their subjects were able to increase their performance and productivity by 11-25%. Additionally, they found that specific yet difficult goals led to better performance, over vague or easy goals. So for the average cubicle worker who works 10 hours a day, that means an extra 1-2 hours every single day by simply setting a specific and difficult goal relevant to your task at hand.
The Psychology Behind It
When you set an effective goal you are making a real shift in your self-identity. Your brain has a very difficult time differentiating between what we have and what we want. In other words, when we set an effective goal our brain actually absorbs the desired outcome into the very fabric of who we are. When this happens it forces your subconscious into working in overdrive to achieve your desired outcome. It is nature’s greatest hack if used appropriately.
Setting a goal has an immediate, intense effect on brain chemistry. Because of the tension that goal-setting creates, it’s naturally more comfortable for the brain to prefer the inertia of a “let’s just do our best” approach. This insulates us from the potential pain of failing to meet a goal but also prevents us from experiencing the satisfaction (and growth) that comes with making progress toward a goal.
This is why in our next section we will talk about how to set effective, and fulfilling goals and give you a Manual for acting on them.
How to set Fulfilling & Effective Goals
Before we embark on this journey, you need to start being more okay with being selfish, to an extent. The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing a career that is fulfilling to you and still spending quality time with your family and friends. If you neglect your health or your career, you slip into the category of the masses, which is a short slide to becoming a burden on society.
As we talked about in the relevant section above, it is important to make sure that your goal is aligned with your long-term goals and will lead to increased fulfillment, not merely increased possessions. As a general rule of thumb, if the outcome of your goal will not have a positive impact on others, it will likely leave you empty.want to get a 750 on the GMAT because it will increase my future options and led to a more
Fulfilling: I want to get a 750 on the GMAT because it will increase my future options and lead to a more financially secure future for my family
Less Fulfilling: I want to get an MBA because it would look good on my resume to future employers
In the Rich Life Manual, I go into a step-by-step approach to getting more clear on your ‘why,’ but for now, here are some questions to get you thinking.
Who will be impacted if I achieve this goal and how?
On a typical Saturday morning when you are laying in bed what are the articles/books/blogs you look at?
What are you innately great at? What do your friends always ask for your help on?
How do I measure success? What do the people I look up to most do? What are their core values?
The average person set goals, those who live a Rich Life set systems. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. Running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.
“Success has a price, but the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system (a fulfilling one), the price will be a lot nearer what you’re willing to pay.” – Scott Adams
Simplifying is generally the strategy of people who view the world in terms of systems. The best systems are simple and for good reason. Simple systems are probably the best way to achieve success. Another big advantage of simplification is that it frees up time, and time is one of the most valuable resources in the world.
The key to setting effective goals is to make them SMART. I have listed a quick description of the SMART goal framework below. For a more detailed description and how to set SMART goals see the Rich Life Manual.
Specific: Your goal must be clear.
Why? Specify the reason, purpose, or benefits of accomplishing your goal
What? Outline exactly what you want to accomplish. (eg. I want to lose 10 lbs and decrese body fat to 10%)
Where? Is there a specific location or place involved?
Who? Who will be involved that will help you accomplish your goal?
Can you track your progress and whether you achieved the goal?
Remember, what gets measured gets managed. If you cannot track your daily progress or your outcome, rewrite your goal. I want to be happier is a great idea, but not a SMART goal. It is very difficult to track and measure your personal happiness. Life is growth people, if you aren’t growing, you are dying.
Make your goal measurable
Can you reach this goal in 90 days?
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals
Your 90-day goal must align with your larger life goals and lead to greater fulfillment. You do not want to get to the end of your path, reach your desired outcome, and say to yourself, “that was good, but it did not increase my level of fulfillment.” WE WANT IMPACT. What goal can you complete in the next 90-Days that would make all of your other goals irrelevant?
Over the next 90 days, I have a lot of things that I want to accomplish, but the single biggest goal that would make all of the others irrelevant is to build Fully Rich Life to 5000 email subscribers. If I can do that, I won’t need to study for the GMAT, look for another job, or develop another side business.
A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to your outcome, there will be no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “in the next 90 days,” then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
The Rich Life Manual
Being fully committed to accomplishing your goal no matter what is one of the most fundamental principles that will lead to you achieving it. When you only commit to goals that are the most important to you, your relationships will improve, you will be more successful in achieving your goals, and you’ll have more time to enjoy your journey. One of the surest ways you will find fulfillment in your career, and in life, is if you understand what is most important to you and then pursue it with everything you have.
In addition to making a commitment to yourself that you will accomplish your goal, it is essential that you tell at least one other person about your goal so that you can be held accountable. We all fall short sometimes and can use some help.
The Purpose of the Rich Life Manual
Most people fail to achieve their goals because they do not have a specific and actionable plan for achieving them. By committing to your goal ahead of time and developing a systematic approach to reaching it, you will be much more likely to reach your desired outcome, feeling fulfilled and satisfied. I have always struggled with defining a fulfilling goal. Even when I did end up defining one, I never had an action plan for achieving it. I needed an effective method for defining my goals that kept me accountable for reaching them. That is why I created the Rich Life Manual.
The Rich Life Manual will be your No-BS guide to reaching your most fulfilling goal in 90-days. It has helped me get a promotion, land a dream job, and run a 6-figure business. It is rooted in the latest scientific research on goal setting and productivity . I know it can help you have the most productive and fulfilling next 90-days.
The Manual is broken down into 3-main sections. The Metric, The Deliverables, and The Execution Items.
The metric is your main result goal that you want to accomplish in the next 90-days. For example, your metric could be to get a 750 on the GMAT, to land a Dream Job at Goldman Sachs, or to lose 15 pounds. Imagine you are on a client project, what would be the single most important metric that your client would want you to accomplish during the lifetime of the project.
Generally, this is the step in the process that most people are able to create. Where the majority of people fail is by not setting up clearly defined deliverables that can be executed over the next 90-days to reach their outcome. That is where the next step comes in.
Deliverables are your clearly defined and measurable objectives that will substantial move you closer to your metric. A deliverable is a meaningful and measurable improvement that you would need to make in order to ensure you hit your desired Metric. For example, “I will get a 720 on my next practice test” or “I will meet with 15 thought leaders in my Dream Job’s industry,” are great Deliverables. They should be directly linked to your Outcome. Imagine your deliverables as the main signposts along the project roadmap that are critical to the overall success of the engagement.
The Execution Items (Your System)
The Execution stage of the Rich Life Manual is your systematic, daily action that you must complete in order to complete your deliverables. Using the project metaphor again, these are your daily next steps that will help your team finish the deliverable on time.
An example of an execution item is “email 5 people per day that are in your target industry” or “I will complete 25 practice problems a day.” ) Just as in the story of Amundsen and Scott, these are the daily tasks (20 miles) that you will complete no matter what in order to stay the course in completing your Outcome
The Analysis + Reward
Benjamin Franklin was famous for his uncanny productivity and his rigorous routines. According to Ben, one of the most important routines he had was to spend a couple minutes every night reviewing his day. He would ask himself, “what good have I done today?” and “how could I have improved today?” He was using modern psychology to make him more successful and productive.
Take a page from ole Ben’s book and make sure you take a little time each night to celebrate your victories and to learn from your missteps.
Okay, now it’s time to set your next BIG goal that you want to accomplish in the next 90 days and then take the action to achieve it.
Download the Rich Life Manual and take 1-hour (or 4.1% of your day) to go to a coffee shop fill it out.
Two Action Items:
- Fill out your Rich Life Manual
- Post your Goal in the Comments