Have you ever caught yourself setting goal after goal with little to no success in achieving any of them?
You start a new goal, and you’re excited, almost over the moon, but within a few days that energy has diminished, and you throw in the towel?
On a recent Success Talks podcast I listened to, the Success staff played an archived clip from Jim Rohn where he addressed, as he called it, “The Simple Art of Goal Setting.” His method of goal setting is one that he learned from his mentor, John Earl Shoaff, at the early age of 25 and it goes something like this:
- Decide what you want.
- Write it down. Make a list.
- Keep the old lists.
- Check things off your list.
Pretty simple, right? I thought so. Even so, I’ve failed at so many goals that I’ve set for myself. I’ve found that excuses are easy to come by, especially when you enter a goal half-heartedly like I have time and time again.
Once, I set a goal to read five books in a year because I tended to avoid reading due to my slow reading speed in the past. I hit it hard for a few weeks in the early new year but soon lost interest. I never wrote it down, tracked my progress, or checked it off. Needless to say, I let yet another year go by, and I don’t think I read three books.
So how can we put Jim’s 4 step goal-setting practice into place in our own lives? For me, it started with redefining what a goal is.
1. Decide What You Want…and Why.
For many people, myself included, a goal is some significant thing you want to achieve. It could be getting the big promotion that lands you in the corner office, becoming debt free, reading 24 books in a year, or heck, it could even be getting down to 4% body fat for a bodybuilding competition.
But what I didn’t realize for the longest time is: there are small goals too. For example, small goals could be things like expressing an idea in the weekly staff meeting, monitoring your budget carefully, reading for 30 minutes per day, or hitting the gym 2-3 times each week.
Define Your “Why”
But to take Jim’s first step a little further, I recommend deciding your “why.” Deciding your “why” means that you list the reasons that you want to achieve your goal.
For example, do you want a big promotion at work because you’re chasing more money? Or, are you hoping to acquire accolades and bragging rights? Or are you looking to provide a better life for your family?
Defining your “why” is going to help you stay focused on your goal, and achieving it when it starts to get complicated or seemingly impossible.
Related: The Power of Finding Your Why
2. Write it Down. Make a List.
This step is pretty straightforward and simple: write down all your goals. But first, let’s take a look at what is the best way to do this.
I have tried using Evernote, Google Docs, and other apps, but I have found that keeping Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner with me is the best way to stay on top of my thoughts, goals, to-dos, and more.
I take this notebook almost everywhere, and I document random thoughts I have, inspiring quotes from The Tim Ferris Show, my to-do list, and even ideas for new blog posts.
Don’t feel like carrying around a notebook? Consider this: Mary Morrissey wrote an article called “The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams” on the Huffington Post back in 2016.
In it, she highlights a study performed by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California. Dr. Matthews found that “you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis.”
That’s powerful! Give it a try and watch it change your life. I know it did mine.
3. Keep the Old Lists
If you start using a notebook, this one is easy: keep all your old notebooks and never tear out a page or scribble things out. As you progress through the pages and from notebook to notebook, your goals will evolve and change.
You will begin to achieve some of your goals while you may drop and disregard others. That’s okay! As you change and grow, so will your priorities. The key here is to keep documenting your goals and look back on your old goals from time-to-time.
If you decide to stop working towards a goal, then evaluate the reason why. Did you drop it because it got difficult? Did you take your eye off the ball and forget about it? Or, did you decide you just had more important priorities right now?
If it got hard, break it down into smaller goals and try again. If you forgot about the goal, dust off your notebook and document your progress every day to stay on track. If you changed your priorities, that’s great! Just stay focused on what’s most important to you.
4. Check Things Off Your List.
This is the last step in achieving your goals, and it’s the most simple, yet the most challenging.
“How is checking a box or crossing off an item challenging,” you ask. Checking things off your list is easy, sure, but depending on your goal, it may take a while to accomplish some of the things on your list.
Setting goals, staying focused, and achieving the things you want can be challenging. If it weren’t everyone would be in great shape, have tons of money, and all while balancing a perfect family and social life.
But things aren’t that easy. It takes a driven and focused mind to do those things that you want. That is why I started Daily New Year’s. I desired to build a community of people who are driven and focused on doing more all year long, day after day, checking accomplishments off their lists.
Are you ready to achieve more?
Join the community discussion and post your current list of goals below. What are you doing every day to get you closer to achieving those goals? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
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