Goals: Where Do I Start?


We talk endlessly about the importance of setting goals, so let’s take part in a short exercise so we can see how much of that talk you’re turning into action. Sit back for a few moments and create a list of 10 things you want to accomplish in the next five years. Make sure you have no distractions…

As simple as this question sounds, it’s a lot more difficult to answer – and answer well for that matter.

From our experience 95% of people struggle with this exercise; most don’t even know where to start. The problem is, that the vast majority of people don’t really have any goals, to begin with, and quite frankly aren’t sure what they want to get out of their lives. Sure, they want more than what they’ve got at the moment, but when it comes to producing an actual list of goals on paper, they draw a giant blank.

So why does this happen and how can you fix it?

What many people fail to understand is that goal setting is a creative problem-solving process. You’ve heard all of the ‘creativity’ buzzwords before – brainstorming, ideation, free think – and I’m sure most of you are even familiar with the methodology: focus on quantity, defer judgment, and ‘think outside the box. But effective goal setting requires a different approach, involving just as much lateral thinking and creativity as it does structure and guidance. A question like “What do you want to accomplish in five years” is problematic because it’s too vague for your mind to know where it should focus its energy.

Like any problem, what you need is just enough structure to channel your thinking without overly constraining potentially great ideas.

Here’s a good place to start right here and now.

In the book, The Success Principles, Jack ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ Canfield suggests that there are seven areas where you should consider setting goals (listed below). Use these categories to guide your goal-setting. For example, you can go through the list and rate each area out of 10 based on how important you feel it is in your life. Alternatively, write down a score for how you feel you’re doing in each area. For areas where you score low, what could you do to improve? In other words, what goals could you set?

  • Financial – do you want to save a specific amount by the end of the year?
  • Job/career/school – is there a job you’re working towards or a school you’d like to attend?
  • Physical health – lose weight, improve fitness, run a marathon, swim 100m in 2 minutes, etc.
  • Relationships (family/friends/partner) – getting back in touch with old friends, go on a trip with your dad, etc.
  • Personal development – learn a language, learn to fly, take a course in finance, etc.
  • Community – the volunteer for your favorite charity, donate to your favorite charity, etc.

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