How to Set Goals and Accomplish Them
By Eben Pagan
How to set goals and accomplish them.
Let’s talk about how to set goals, and how to accomplish them. Goal setting is one of the most talked about areas of personal development, self-help, etc. And it’s also one of the things that people do the least. Everybody’s heard, you need to set goals, you got to set goals, set goals and you’ll accomplish them, but most people don’t do it. Well, I think there are a couple of reasons why we don’t set goals, and I think that there are a couple of simple techniques we can use to actually set goals and accomplish them.
Why don’t we set goals? If we know they‘re so important, why do we avoid it? Well, there was a book written several years ago called Stop Setting Goals if You Would Rather Solve Problems, and it’s a book by Bobb Biehl. In the book he talks about this idea that most people are not motivated by setting goals. Something like 80 percent of people when you say set goals, their eyes glaze over and they go, “That doesn’t sound fun at all.” But if you say to them, “I have a problem. Can you help me solve it,” or, “here’s a list of problems we need to solve,” or, “can you find some of the problems we can solve,” these people leap into action. They love solving problems. They don’t like to set goals; they like to solve problems. And then only maybe 20 percent of us are really motivated by goal setting. So if we just recognize that a lot of us would rather solve problems than set goals, that just frees up a lot of energy because we go, “Okay, it’s not just about goal setting. There are more ways to look at this.” So that’s kind of one-way to look at it.
Another reason why people don’t set goals is they just don’t know how. They never learned the technique for setting goals. And I’d like to introduce a technique to you right here for setting goals that I think you’ll find very valuable. When instructed to set goals, or make a list of all your goals, what most people do is they take out their pen and paper, and they sit there and they look at the paper, and they say, “Okay, I want to be happy,” or, “I want to make some money,” or, “I want to get a raise,” or, “I want my wife to stop nagging me,” or whatever, and they’re not really into the reality of what would happen if they created a vision for their life, if they created an outcome that they can see clearly, and then they made it happen. They’re not in touch with all of the other implications that that would have on their life.
A much better way is to use this powerful tool called your brain and your mind, and use them to help you set goals. Before you ever pick up the pen and paper and actually write your goals down, it’s so important to use again, this vast tool that you have to imagine what your life would be like if you had or accomplished certain things, or had relationships with certain people. If when I say, “Okay, give me a list of all your goals,” instead of taking out a pen and paper, and writing down a big list, and saying, “What do I want,” you just stopped, and you closed your eyes, and you started to imagine different scenarios in your mind. What if I accomplished this outcome? What if I had a relationship with this person? What if I was able to achieve this? What if I got this thing in my life? And then ask, what are all the other things that would happen afterwards? What would that lead to? What would that trigger? If I imagine that that’s a domino in my life, what other dominoes would that one knock down automatically?
And what you’ll realize is that by thinking about it for a while, and just using your imagination, using your power to think big, you’ll come up with some great goals to achieve. Most people just try to go right to, “I got to write down the goal that I want. I want to a new car,” and then somehow it’s going to happen automatically. It’s not about that. It’s about asking, if I get a new car, what will happen in my life? And when you ask if I get a new car, what you might realize is, well, I’ll get a new car. I’ll get into it. It’ll be enjoyable to drive. I’ll be able to show off to other people. I’ll enjoy it. But then you realize, a month or two later, I’m going to get used to my new car, and I’m going to be making a bigger car payment. And you know what, I’m going to lose the thrill of having it, and it really isn’t going to mean anything to me, except spending more money. The car I have is fine. You might realize that.
On the other hand, the goal might be to build a relationship with a particular mentor in your life, and you might start thinking about that. What happens if I build a relationship with that mentor, and you’ll realize yeah, I’ll develop to the next level, I’ll learn a whole bunch of things that I wouldn’t have known before, they’ll introduce me to other influential and powerful people. I’ll be able to get mentored by some of their friends. That’ll increase my income, my personal satisfaction. You know what, that’s a really important goal. That’s something that I really need to figure out how to do.
So step one in setting goals is to use the power of your mind to imagine all the outcomes that would happen. Next, if you relate it to the idea of being a problem solver, take the goal that you’ve set, or the vision that you’ve set for yourself, and make a list of all the problems that you need to solve in order to reach the goal. My mentor Jerry Ballinger taught me that for problem solvers, a great mental exercise to do is to go out into the future, and imagine that the goal has been reached. Imagine that you’ve completed the vision. You’ve gotten there. And then look back, and ask yourself what are all the problems that I had to solve on the way there? And that can become a very useful way for problem solvers to find a list of things that they need to do in order to reach their goal.
So goal setting and problem solving, they’re like two different muscles, and we want to work on both of them. We don’t want to just jump to making a list of things we want. We really want to use our minds to figure out, if I reach this goal, what will it mean to me? And once we have found a goal that will just explode our lives in the most positive way, and that will really bring us more, and more, and more of what we want, then we want to really think about that. We want to consider that seriously as a goal to set for ourselves. And then once we’ve set that goal – we’ve chosen it, we then want to back track and we want to say, okay, now, I’m going to go out into the future. I’m going to look back and I’m going to say what were all the problems that I had to solve on the way to creating this goal?
I want to say one more thing here. If you really want to make it so that you reach your goals, ask yourself the question, what conditions do I have to set up in my life so that the outcome I want to achieve, or the goal that I want to get is going to happen automatically. If I set up these conditions, it’s just going to happen automatically. It’s one of my favorite questions because it takes you up a level, you go meta, you zoom out, and you’re looking at the situation whole. And instead of just saying all right, how do I get this thing, you’re saying, what conditions do I have to set up in life? And conditions can be relationships with people. They can be setups, so that that you do this one thing, and it causes this other thing to happen. Conditions can be a lot of different things in your physical environment, emotional, relationships. And when you ask, what conditions do I set, so that the goal happens automatically, it just causes you to think on a different level, and I think it’ll help you reach your goals a lot faster. So you use these techniques to set goals, and watch yourself achieve them quicker than you thought possible.