Frederick Nietzche, the German philosopher, once said, “He who has a why can endure any how.” When it comes to setting and achieving life goals, it’s important they be personally motivating and relevant to the highest priorities in your life.
But why set goals in the first place? Would you be better off simply floating along with the flow, being open to opportunities as they arise and with no aim in sight, avoiding ever really being disappointed? Sure, that might work. Nothing wrong with a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive, and seeing where it leads. If your goal in life is to simply see where life takes you, which is a goal, then this would be fine. But to achieve meaningful life goals you should better understand the value of larger, more focused goal setting.
First, know that to achieve important life goals, we all do better with a target to shoot for, this give our minds focus power. We can then measure our progress, and more likely stay within the boundaries of our target. When we have a goal in mind, we’re more likely to stay at it, always being reminded we have a finish line. Without it, just taking that leisurely drive for instance, it really doesn’t matter where we end up, or when. Finally, the base of forward movement, the motivation to excel, is having a clear vision of an endpoint that we are heading for, a goal. It’s what gets our juices flowing. Life goals are essential for the quality and direction of our lives, far more than simple targets. They help us gain a clear hold on what we most want out of life.
When it comes to goals, people strive to have an enjoyable, stimulating and entertaining life filled with family and friends, living healthy with a deep sense of satisfaction and physical/mind/spiritual well-being, achieving intellectual and academic advancement and degrees with related career success, and having financial freedom.
Finding Your Why
Personally, and for my coaching clients as well, the first step in achieving a goal for 2018, is knowing one’s “why.” I’ve found being keyed into my “why” is essential to provide me with the mental energy to take measured risks needed to step outside of my comfort zone, stay motivated and push ahead. Even those who stop me don’t stop me from achieving my “why.” Knowing my clear purpose is a forceful propeller in life that overcomes every obstacle.
I suggest four questions to ask yourself to help you arrive at your “why.”
- What turns on your battery, fires you up, makes your feel most alive?
- Do you know your innate strengths and inborn talents?
- Are you able to identify where you bring your greatest gifts and add most value in life?
- What do you really stand for, and how can you use that to measure your life?
Setting Your Goals
I believe in writing down my goals to make them real and do so frequently. I always ensure that my goals are equal to my potential and just beyond my comfortable reach. This isn’t obsessive. It’s audacious. Why have goals that aren’t?
When it comes to setting life goals, I like to use Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound, Enthusiastically set, and Revisable (SMARTER) goal setting language.
Instead of “I plan on getting fitter in 2018,” I’ve actually written, “I plan on working out five days per week, including at least 30-45 minutes of upper body alternating days with lower body resistance training, followed each day with 30-45 minutes of cardio work on my Total Gym.” Another goal I’ve written down is “Eat mindfully three meals daily by being aware, present and non-judgmental, spending 2-5 minutes savoring my food, gratefully, with all of my senses, before putting anything into my mouth.”
Take Action to Achieve Your Goals
I particularly enjoy Grant Cardone’s book, “The 10X Rule,” in which he observes that many people fail at goal achievement because they operate at the wrong degree of action. He notes there are four choices we have:
- Do nothing
- Take normal levels of action
- Take massive action – and do so now
Want to truly achieve your goals this year? Follow what I’ve done each year and will do again in 2018, using Grant’s thinking:
“Overcommit, be all in, and take massive levels of action followed up by massive amounts of more actions. You will create new problems and deliver at levels that will amaze even you.”
With speed, doing what I can do now to insure momentum and confidence, with massive commitment, avoiding the mediocre “80-20 rule” thinking, it’s all about taking action and moving daily forward.
I also find significant fuel for my goal setting from Michael Lardon, author of “Finding Your Zone,” in which he observes, “Great champions know that if they push a little more and prepare better than their competitors, they will move past the threshold and consequently set the stage to enter into the Zone. The difference between good and great is immeasurably small. Sometimes all it takes is a bit more perseverance and you find yourself at the next level. This process of giving that little extra builds upon itself and forms the foundation for great performances.”
A third source of inspiration for me comes from Alden M. Mill’s book, “Be Unstoppable.” He’s a former Navy SEAL platoon commander. In his book, he describes finding an inscription on a paddle that said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
I’ve found the acronym U.P.E.R.S.I.S.T from Mills to be most inspiring in achieving my goals each year and undoubtedly these points will again help me stay on top of my goals for 2018.:
U = Understand Your Why. It all starts with knowing your WHY. Without a strong why, there’s no way (!) we will persist through the inevitable storms in life.
P = Plan in 3-D. Once we have our Why identified, we need to map out our plan. In 3 Dimensions: 1. Define it. 2. Divide it. 3. Do it daily.
E = Exercise to Execute. What’s the key variable to executing our plan? It’s he ability to sustain hard work over an extended period of time. Alden makes the case that EXERCISE is the way to build the engine of effort to help us do our best and tackle our big dreams.
R = Recognize Your Reason to Believe. Alden tells us we need to create small wins, and use that progress to build self-confidence. We need to see those small wins as “reasons to believe” we can achieve our big goals.
S = Survey Your Habits. We need to take a look at what’s getting in the way of our success. We need to “survey our habits” to see what’s working and what’s not. Do more of the good stuff and eliminate the not-so-good stuff. Repeat. Forever.
I = Improvise to Overcome Obstacles. Our plans will never be perfect. We will ALWAYS (but only always) face obstacles when we chase big goals. When that happens, it’s time to improvise. Try different approaches. Learn from mistakes. Persist till you figure it out.
S = Seek Expert Advice. We need to own the fact that we’re never going to be great at everything. When we don’t know something, it’s time to seek out expert advice.
T = Team Up. In addition to seeking out expert advice, we want to team up with people whose strengths compliment our weaknesses. And we stay motivated with our big, shared Why? Nothing great was ever achieved alone so it’s time to team up and rock it.
Without the ability to dream or the courage to follow your dreams, you won’t go anywhere different in 2018 than you were in 2017. What’s the magic potion to help you develop these? Exercise. That’s right. It’s the pill that can change your destiny. Manage your energy through exercise, derive the proven physical and mental benefits of exercise and watch how inspired, driven and focused you’ll be to achieve your massive goals for 2018.