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“Failures do what is tension relieving, while winners do what is goal achieving.” – Dennis Waitley

Setting your life goals is one of the most life-changing thing you can do. During the process of goal setting you have to come clear to answer one of the most profound question:

What do I want from my life?

Many are still underestimating the positive effect that goal setting can have. The simple reason for this is more often than not that they haven’t experienced first hand how it feels to define clearly what really drives them. If done right, goal setting can easily motivate you to take massive action and to grow as a human being.

The Process of Goal Setting

A goal is a future achievement with a timely deadline you can work towards to. And on an even more subtle level we can define a goal like this:

A goal is a thought with commitment to make it real. [Tweet this!]

A compelling goal is something that has a deeper meaning to you. It is the kind of goal that excites you, that lets you grow and the achievement is fulfilling and rewarding.  The following is the fastest way I know, to develop real life goals that are personally meaningful. The whole process may take 10 minutes to get out at least 3 compelling goals.

I’ve proven this method to myself as working and I use it that way regularly, at least every quarter when setting my 3-month goals and reviewing my long-term goals. So even if you are pretty good in goal setting, I think to start the process fresh is always beneficial and can produce fresh results.

1. Get in State

First you want to get into the right state to set compelling life goals for yourself. You must allow yourself to dream. There are no barriers. Also forget to be reasonable, just for a moment here, flow high to the field of all possibilities :) Think of it like a child would do. Childs don’t have problems to come up with something that is challenging to achieve from a perspective of most adults.

It is also great to turn on some music in the background that fits the mood. I have a special soundtrack that I love to hear when setting goals and that is Vangelis’ 1492: Conquest of Paradise . It must be something that is not distracting, something more subliminal and best without lyrics (so put your Eminem Album back into the shelf ;))

2. Brainstorm Your Life Goals

Now begin thinking about what would really excite you. You know, the thing that gets a real big smile on your face ;) If you knew you could not fail, what would you start to dream about?

When brainstorming you get ideas into your head and you write them down as fast as you can. It is totally irrelevant if what comes to your mind is possible or not. Forget the “How?” Now we are all into the “What?”, all else does not matter. Especially avoid thinking about what it means or how difficult it would be to get there. We will do this later.

So don’t limit yourself here, get it all out onto the paper or screen.

I found that it works best if you choose important areas of your life to set life goals in, i.e. your body, mind, finances and things, relationships or spirit. Then write everything down that excites you and that you would like to achieve, to have, do or be.

Also and important: select a time-frame. Choose from short-term (3-12 month), mid-term (1 to 2 years) or long-term (3 years to lifetime). You can repeat this for every time-frame. My advice would be to start with 1 year-goals.

Just get it out, no worries, even if it’s total beyond what you currently can do. These can be skills, learnings, things ans all kinds of achievements. Just some examples as an inspiration:

  • learn a new skill (like a new language, to play the piano …)
  • start your own company
  • find a mate
  • become a vegeterian
  • buy a new car or house
  • make a trip around the world or visit a certain place
  • earn a certain amount of money
  • start to meditate
  • lose weight to a certain number
  • start the exercise habit

Ok enough examples, you surely have your own ideas :) Brainstorm for about 5 minutes on the area you have chosen.

3. Prioritize

After brainstorming for at least 5 minutes you now get your results in order. From all that you have written down in the area and time-frame, select the life goals that are most compelling to you. Give them numbers from 1-10 where 10 is the most motivating, that means if you reach it you really made progress towards what you really want in life.

4. Choose the Top 3 Goals

From this list select now the 3 highest rated goals and highlight them. And also determine your number 1 goal. This number 1 goal is the most compelling thing you want to achieve.

Selecting the goals is the primary step to take. Next is now to start bringing them into reality step by step:

5. Set Deadlines

For your 3 top life goals including the number 1 goal set deadlines to when you will achieve them. That means a specific date. This is important because it creates the tension that is necessary to give ourselves the message, that we are serious about our happiness ;)

Now … this was the most important part. If you really did this, then congratulations! You really are among the 3% of the population who have actually written goals . If you work from there and review them regularly you would even step into the 1% of the population who do this. The goal setting is done.

Nevertheless, having goals means acting on them. Now comes the “How”-part of goal setting:

6. Create an Action-Plan

Create an Action-Plan for your number 1 goal. An Action-Plan is a specific list of actions that will lead to your goal. One of the most effective ways is to think from the end: you visualize your outcome as completed and think backward to where you are now. What steps have you taken to get there? Write them down and bring them into a logical order. If you have long-term goals, that process will include parts that are not completely clear and this is ok. Work on your Action-Plan if you make progress and get feedback. But put thinking and energy into it to the best possibly way. I found a pretty good tool in using flow-charts for action-plans. In her book “Wishcraft” , Barbara Sher talks a lot about using flow charts for that matter.

7. Start Now with Your #1 Goal

By all means identify the very first step to take. Now start with this first step from your Action-Plan. It is very important to do at least one step right now and start building momentum on your goal.

If you had difficulties with this little process, then maybe there are some things to consider to free your mind, so that you really become able to use the power of goal setting to the fullest:

If you created a goal or if you want to add anything to the routine, share it in the comments.

About

I’m author of this site and I could coach you to make a giant leap ahead in your personal life and your business. I founded Personal Breakthrough Academy, a powerful personal development video course to create your personal breakthrough. Sign up above to get started!

39 comments

  1. Comment by INcubator

    INcubator Reply August 11, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Really great list, I have set several goals over the last years. Usually I set around 10 or more. Maybe I should focus more on 3 goals. I usually only achieved about half of them, and another half of those achieved not by my deadline. I’ll try your approach now, thanks.

  2. Comment by D00dikov

    D00dikov Reply August 11, 2008 at 1:41 am

    I personally like to set and write my goals into a word-document that I called Goals-Journal. I rewrite some regularly if I have done one goal. Good list, keep up posting :-)

  3. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply August 11, 2008 at 1:46 am

    I learned that focusing on few but big goals clearly is very effective. If there are a lot of goals then possibly that aren’t really goals but 2do lists. Or otherwise it is likely to get overwhelmed or frustrated or both :)

  4. Comment by Michaela

    Michaela Reply August 11, 2008 at 1:49 am

    In the bestseller “Goals!”, Brian Tracy teaches you how to identify in the clearest terms the things you want out of life, then how to make the plan to help you achieve those things. Brian Tracy says there are four reasons why people don’t set goals:

    • They don’t realize about the importance of goals. If the people with whom you spend the most time — family, friends, colleagues, and so forth — are not clear and committed to goals, there is a chance that you will not be, either.
    • They don’t know how to set goals. Some set goals that are too general. These are, in reality, fantasies common to everyone. Goals, on the other hand, are clear, written, specific, and measurable.
    • They fear failure. Failure hurts, but it is often necessary to experience failure in order to achieve the greatest success. Do not unconsciously sabotage yourself by not setting any goals in which you might fail.
    • They fear rejection. People are often afraid that if they are unsuccessful at achieving a goal, others will be critical of them. This is remedied by keeping your goals to yourself at the outset; let others see your results and achievements once you’ve accomplished your goals.

    Make a habit of daily goal setting and achieving, for the rest of your life. Focus on the things you want, rather than the things you don’t want. Resolve to be a goal-seeking organism, moving unerringly toward the things that are important to you. (from the link http://www.lifemastering.com/en/harvard_school.html)

  5. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply August 11, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Michaela, great quote! I really appreciate Brian Tracy and his outstanding work to communicate the importance of goals in Personal Development. He teaches very useful stuff and I read some of his books and listened to most of his audio-books.

  6. Comment by Gilbert Ross

    Gilbert Ross Reply October 14, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Great post! Good choice of music…long time I didn’t hear 1492. Thanks for reminding me!
    I perfectly agree with all points and their sequence. It’s exactly the way I go about it…from brainstorming all possibilities to narrowing it down, prioritizing, choosing, setting deadlines and acting. Of course, I must say that the most difficult step for me is often #7. It’s that final leap from a good plan to doing it now.

  7. Comment by Abdallah

    Abdallah Reply December 18, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Success is defined by many in so many ways. Many people define it by what the have yet to attain or by what others have attained. In the pursuit of success we often prostitute ourselves to many things we would eventually live to regret. We run miles down one street only to find we are completely lost.

    www2successway.blogspot.com

  8. Comment by used tires

    used tires Reply January 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    One of the best things in my opinion you can do for yourself is to always make sure you are taking action and following up on where you really wanna be. Its way too easy to say a goal, without actually working towards that goal. I know I’ve made that mistake in the past too.

    -Jean

  9. Comment by alexis

    alexis Reply January 28, 2011 at 12:35 am

    I’m a Novice to goal setting, so I’ll have a go at short-term goals at first. Being a teenager (16 years old) that’s the best I can do ;)
    Have all good luck in achieving your goals :)

  10. Comment by Komodo Dragon

    Komodo Dragon Reply February 10, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I have to say that a lot of times, I just do things to relieve tension or stress rather than doing it to achieve goals. Maybe if the goal itself is creating the tension in me, I am being productive but it’s hard for me to take extra initiative is what I mean.

  11. Comment by finest man van

    finest man van Reply June 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I have realized it is somewhat hard to get motivated if you do not set goals (or deadlines) for yourself. For example, I want to get some p&ss& badly, but I have not had a date in over two months. In order for me to get girls I have to initiate contact and ask them out, even if that means leaving my comfort zone. If lets say, I set a goal to ask atleast one girl out a month, that would be a good motivation, don’t you agree?NO GOALS=NO MOTIVATION

  12. Comment by Property Marbella

    Property Marbella Reply October 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Important to remember, failure is not a loss but simply a failure to win and you have learned something new and perhaps come closer to a victory.

  13. Comment by farouk

    farouk Reply December 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    hi Myrko
    its my first visit here and surely it wont be the last
    amazing post :)
    thank you for sharing

  14. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply December 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    farouk, nice to have you here. :)

  15. Comment by Johnny Salter

    Johnny Salter Reply October 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    In theory it’s imposable to happen every time but if I set a goal that’s farther out than a couple of days. That’s as close to a guarantee that it will not happen as you can get. Naturally when I tell people this they say it is a negative attitude and that thinking like that will make it not happen. And they are correct however I used to not have that attitude but after so many failed attempts I don’t know how it is possible to have another attitude about it. It used to destroy me when such things I was counting on would fail. I had such a failure in June and I am not functioning fully yet, close but not there. I was totally convinced my plan would work. I could watch it like movie, I could feel it.

    In a way though it was very helpful. I learned with complete awareness: that there is no god there to help and that the only logical conclusion to Jesus is Jim Jones. There is no other place for jesus but Jim Jones.
    Actually focusing on this lesson makes me realize the whole deal was a complete success. I feel grounded, serene. safe.

    However, i still can’t do goals.

  16. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply November 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

    There are two things that make achievable goals happen.

    The first and necessary step is to get in harmony with your goal. This means you have to be aligned with what you want to achieve. It’s not enough to “only” really want it, you have be in harmony with it too. And harmony doesn’t mean softness or esoteric, it means you have to become the person for which the goal comes naturally: build the skills, think the thoughts, have the friends fitting your goal. Otherwise there would be a conflict and it would show. Your life will ALWAYS reflect your inner state, which means your inner belief-system and your most dominant thoughts. If you move yourself to harmony you will probably encounter blockers and beliefs you want to change.

    The second thing are the mechanics: you have to build a plan from beginning to end and then start and do the first step.

    I would work on those two things. And it’s also important to break the belief again that you won’t get them. You have to want to believe otherwise.

    And I would look at the specific reasons why the goals were not achieved and look at new ways around that. As I said the most important part is the 1st step: harmony with your goal. You have to be/become the person that naturally attracts your goal.

    Three followup reads that could help:
    Self-Reflection: How to Do It Right
    Are You Asking the Right Questions?
    How to Change Limiting Beliefs

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  19. Comment by Jacob Becker

    Jacob Becker Reply October 28, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Awesome article about goal setting! The crazy thing is that so many entrepreneurs don’t even bother to set goals when it is very important to have a vision for what you are trying to achieve in my opinion!

  20. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply October 28, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Absolutely Jacob!

  21. Comment by Tony

    Tony Reply December 29, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Hi, Myrko

    Really nicely put together website. Right on to the point. I think I have never truly set goals and my life has been everybody elses life. I really am sick of it where it has lead me and I want out. I have one question about the goal setting. You said that it better to set goals for your important life areas. If I have 7 life areas, will I have 7×3=21 main life goals or just total 3 extracted from all the life areas.

    Cheers,
    Tony

  22. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply December 30, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Thanks Tony!

    You extract the 3 most important and compelling goals from all life areas, so you just have those 3 for now. Then also identify your #1 overall goal.

    The reason is, the more goals you set, the less likely they become to get realised. You need to focus your energy.

    What you can do is set 3 short-term and 3 long-term goals. That way you are compelled to take immediate action as well as have a vision for your — say 5 years ahead — future!

  23. Comment by Anthony Vigneron

    Anthony Vigneron Reply January 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Myrko,
    Great article and contributions in follow-up comments, in particular on the harmony needed to get flow towards your goals. I use those 3 steps to keep me on track:
    – Make sure I am going to work towards the right things, which are “true” to me (that’s your harmony reference)
    – Make sure I have the necessary relentless focus on meeting those goals,
    – With the focus on those goals, make sure I was completing them in the most efficient manner.

    Last one is, Have fun!

  24. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply January 6, 2014 at 5:58 am

    That’s a good guide as well Anthony. I would probably go in more specifics what that exactly means – and I’m sure you have that for you.

    I would also always ensure to get into a emotional peak state before setting goals — things look different then and dreaming big and creative comes naturally.

  25. Comment by J.W.

    J.W. Reply January 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I don’t know what I’m doing to cause it but every time I try something like this I fill overwhelmed and very stressed out, panicked.

  26. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply January 7, 2014 at 4:40 am

    @J.W.: This has probably one of the following reasons:

    1. you feel the responsibility and commitment of the work that is involved to go from where you are to where your goals will take you

    counter: go baby steps and don’t try to do it all at once. focus on your one most important goal only (if that helps)

    2. you feel restricted by the path any goal gives you, so you fear losing flexibility, creativity, even freedom

    counter: realise that with any goal you set, you still keep full power to change course in an instant, if that is necessary and the better way – Don’t see the goal as a restriction, rather as a flexible guide to keep yourself focused on where you want to go

    3. and this is more subtle: you may feel the fear of success. that may sound weird, but we as humans are weird sometimes :) There may be an internal question arising: what if I reach all this? wouldn’t that make my life so much more complicated, stressed etc.?
    this may also include the fear of failing and not reaching your goals

    counter: your life is not necessarily getting more complicated than it is now. you will grow with your goals. that’s the great opportunity you have with goals. The goal is not only about reaching it, but also who you become along the way.

    You can also simplify along the way. Here are three great follow ups, that may help you here:

    The Simplicity Guide to Live a Simple Life
    How to Focus Your Mind: Develop a Laser-Sharp Mental Focus
    How to Create Balance in All Areas of Your Life

  27. Comment by Jimmy Chell

    Jimmy Chell Reply January 9, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Hi Myrko, I come across your post via the FB status of my friend, and I have to say this post helped me a lot for setting my goals. I’ve just made my first goals list and planning to finish it all. I called it is “The Impossible List”. Thanks, again.

  28. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply January 9, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Awesome Jimmy! Thanks for letting me know, that’s cool.

    “The Impossible List” is possible for you, just because you could imagine it, which is the first step in making anything a reality.

  29. Comment by Vuk

    Vuk Reply April 15, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Myrko!

    I have a long-term goal since I was a kid, and now I’m 24 years old … I never worked on that goal, and now I’ve decided to start (even though I thought it is maybe too late), but don’t know where to begin…
    My goal is to become rich. I set myself a period of 5 years.
    The problem is that I don’t know how to do it, how to start, what to learn, where to start, what would be my first step…and I really don’t care how I do it, and what job that’s going to be, I just want to become rich…
    I was born in a poor environment and I don’t know anyone around me who is successful or rich and who could help me with some advice or experience, to show me some direction, because I don’t know anything about business… All the people in my environment live average lives, and are generally satisfied with that, and if not, they never tried to change it, never risked , and they blamed the economic situation in the country, the world, etc…(and they taught me so)…but I want more, I want to have enough money to travel the world, to help people around me, and people in need of financial assistance, and also to work when I want and how I want (it may sound like I’m lazy, but I’m really not, I just want to have some time to enjoy life the way I want).
    Basically I have a problem with an action-plan…for a couple of months im trying to find out what type of work I want to do, how to do it, but it seems to me like i’m not making any progress at all…

    Sorry if my English is not good :) Thank you!

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  32. Comment by Aa. Zazai

    Aa. Zazai Reply June 17, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Dear Myrko,

    Outstanding writing.. Its very helpful and I liked it.

  33. Comment by Vince

    Vince Reply July 28, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Myrko,

    I enjoyed reading about your goal setting process, especially the tip on music .. Vangelis :). I have an app on the Apple app store that avid goal setters may find useful. It’s called Jutsu and it’s a simple tool to help you set & track your life goals. Its a bit more visual than checklists. Hope you like it.

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  35. Comment by Erneus Mapunda

    Erneus Mapunda Reply September 7, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Very interesting your approach of setting clear goals. I have been trying to set more than ten goals every year with no success but through your approach I expect this year and then I am going to do well.

  36. Comment by Bharath

    Bharath Reply September 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Hey Myrko,
    Kindly advise me on this. If I study a concept while I am drunk, I remember it forever and if I study while I am sober, I am unable to concentrate on the subject and tend to forget what I study. It’s a bit strange thing I’m undergoing. Any reasons of mental blockage while I am studying being sober? I have no clue why this is happening inside me.

  37. Comment by Angela

    Angela Reply September 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Myrko,

    I’m following your plan and I have a question. Once I have my three goals, and my primary goal, is the idea that I focus on the primary goal and leave the other two until later, even if I feel like doing something on them, or they are more convenient to work on?

    Ang

    • Comment by Myrko Thum

      Myrko Thum Reply October 2, 2014 at 3:45 am

      Angela, that depends on the 3 goals. If these are in 3 different areas, for instance you have a business goal and a health goal, you could work towards them over the course of a day. I.e. you could follow your business goal during working hours and follow your health goal (something like reaching your ideal weight of X) before or after work.

      But if your top 3 goals are competing for the same time-frame, i.e. your have 3 business goals where you have to decide on which one you have to work on over a day, then I’d suggest to focus most of your resources on just your 1 top goal.

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