“As long as you are alive, you will either live to accomplish your own goals and dreams or be used as a resource to accomplish someone else’s.” Grant Cardone
Setting goals is a massively important skill.  When used properly they can help us to achieve more and get to where we want to be in life.  But in order for that to happen, we need to follow a process.  “I want to make a million dollars.”  “I want to be married with a house and three kids by age 30.”  “I want to run a marathon next month.”  Too often, we have a well-meaning but unattainable goal.  They’re unattainable because there’s no thought behind them.  No process to make sure we follow the right track.   In order for a goal to be achieved, they need to follow a certain dynamic.  Here is the process I follow:

Pick the area (or areas) of your life you care most about

I have five buckets:  financial, professional, health, relationships and personal.  No need to follow mine, but you should clearly outline which aspects of life you are prioritizing at the moment, and be mapping towards goals for each. 

Set a goal for each bucket

Let’s use a real example. Last year, I wanted to use my health bucket to take on a new challenge: run a marathon with my roommate and sister.  6 months later, we were huffing and puffing across the finish line of the Tahoe Marathon feeling massively accomplished.  Why did this work? A few reasons: First, it was challenging.  As someone who had never run over six miles, the thought of 26.2 was intimidating.  This kept me focused, made me think big and kept a fire in my belly. Second, I picked a reasonable timeline.  Though I didn’t consider myself a “runner”, I was in pretty good shape.  Being a former collegiate athlete, I knew I could follow a program and get myself in the right shape come race day.  It was a long enough timeframe where I wouldn’t injure myself but short enough to make sure I didn’t procrastinate. Third, I picked a plan and stuck to it.  More on this in a bit. Fourth, I did it with a team.  By choosing the same goal as two friends, we had instant accountability and motivation to push through the highs and lows of training.

Set up your plan

If your goal is lofty enough to be worthwhile, you will need a plan in place.  The best way to do this is to start backward.  If I need to be at the finish line on October 17th and today is April 17th, what do I need to do in-between to get to my goal? For me, this meant setting a plan for my miles, cross-training and nutrition.  It was a gradual rise of longer, more intense workouts that got me ready for gameday.  I broke this out into monthly, weekly and daily steps. Discipline is a necessity in this aspect.  As former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink says, “discipline equals freedom.”  Be disciplined in your training and be free to accomplish your goals.

Write your goals down

You need to commit.  The more it’s in front of you, the stronger you will be attracted to it.  I write down my goals every single morning in my journal for each of my five buckets.  I can’t get away from them.  The more I see them, the more focused I become.  It’s a fantastic circle that keeps me pushing forward.    I’ve seen people put their goals in the bathroom mirror, on their desk and even in the shower.  Be creative and stay consistent.

Track progress

Tracking progress is huge.  Every Sunday night, I have a quick review session I do with myself to track progress.  Did I run the right number of miles?  Eat the right foods?  Stretch enough?  An important question to ask here is “How is all of this making me feel?”  If the answers are positive, keep going.  If they are negative – and you’re following all of the right steps – you may need to tweak something.  It’s a work in progress.  One note on adjustments: I do not change the goal.  If things become difficult or if I am behind pace, I am quicker to change the output than the end goal.  Perhaps I’m not disciplined enough in my running or drinking too many beers.  If you did it right, you set that goal for a reason.  And if that’s true, you can figure out a way to get there.  And you will.

Apply everywhere

The best part of this is that it applies to every bucket of my life.  Replace “miles” with “dollars earned” or “dates with my girlfriend” or “podcast episodes produced” and it’s the same process. Will you always hit your goal?  No, but this system will get you there more frequently and more quickly than you would on your own. What’s one goal you’re working on right now?  Let me know in the comments.

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