How To Use Goal Setting Theory For Your Best Year Ever

goal setting theory - monks destroy goal mandalaMost goal setting theory guides say to form a life long, 25 year plan. Then work your goals back from there to do what you should right now. I don’t agree.

I’ve been there and tried that. The problem is that you truly don’t know the person you want to be in 25 years. You think you do. If you are living life fully, you never know what experience might turn all your best-laid plans on their ears!

14 years ago I was in the Canadian infantry and my goal was to become a sniper, crawl around in the jungles of panama and save the world. Now I’m writing to make a living. How does that work?

Life has a habit of changing. That means you and your goals will too. Why do you think there are so many divorces? People grow, they evolve and they become new creatures. Sometimes they turn into creatures that just don’t see eye to eye on things anymore. Their goals and expectations for life change.

Goal setting theory is a great place to start though. It’s good to set goals and know where you are heading on this trip (maybe – my cat has no future goals and seems pretty content). However sometimes you just decide to change your course because the old destination doesn’t interest you anymore. Strange, but that’s just the way it goes. We change our minds about what we like and enjoy. We change, so our goals change in time too.

You’re probably thinking, “Great, now what am I supposed to do with that?” Well, here is a way of setting goals that you’ll never regret.

How To Get Anything You Want – A Simple Plan

How often do we jump from one mental thing to another as soon as our brains hit a wall. After you hit a bunch of walls inside your head and don’t get any answers, you go into distraction mode and flick on the TV for some electronic crack.

You must force yourself into contemplation. You must sit and think. If you don’t, you’ll distract yourself to the day you die and you’ll die in quiet desperation with your dreams still inside you.

How Do You Want To Spend Your Day? You must define it and write it down.

What are some ways you can make money doing it? You’re going to have to think hard about this because depending on your history and experience some options might not be right at the front of your mind even though they exist.

What do I have to do? What needs to be done. List them in order. What’s the smallest step you can take on this to get the flywheel turning?

Deadlines: When you need to get it done by. Some dreams don’t have deadlines. Sometimes deadlines can put a fire under your ass. These are things you need to decide on. Are you motivated towards pleasure or away from pain. Just do what it takes in the way that makes you move.

Tools: What do you have or what can you get your hands on that will make this happen faster and easier? Think leverage. Use the longest lever to get the biggest ideas to happen.

Progress: How are you doing? What needs adjustment? Are you still interested in trying to make this happen?

The above example sort of shows you the who, what, where, when, and how of getting things done or changing areas of your life. I go through this process almost every morning before my brain starts over working and I’m still honest with myself.

You wake up and say “Do I really want to go to work today and flip burgers? Do I really want to do that even though I was just given $500,000? Do I love doing it so much that if I had a grill at home I would invite people over and cook them burgers after work as well?” If you’re answer is yes then awesome. If it is no, then you’re honesty just told you that you have some work to do.

That is the same thing that you have to when setting any goals. Those questions above are exactly what I put into my binder when I am starting a project or need a change. Let me warn you right now. This is something that you do to get you started into the action. This is a T/F stage. This is a phase one/ two thing. But there is a phase three and that is actually taking action on the information you write down.

Don’t get stuck here. Use it to spur you into action. Simply getting it on paper though, will never accomplish anything unless you start checking off the list.

Ready for another big question? Here it is. “If I take this to the hugest conclusion, would I be happy?”

Ask yourself that if you took this to the hugest level would the process and the end goal be something that you would enjoy being in even if all your worldly needs and material possessions were met. In other words, if you had everything that money could buy, would you bother spending your time doing this? If no, then you got yourself a job that pays the bills and you are doing survival. When you can say yes, you’ve found a passion. Passion means you will throw yourself at this and do what it takes to make this awesome and huge. (If you don’t want huge it’s because whatever you don’t want to be huge, you really don’t want.)

These questions will take some real thought and honesty to set them properly. When you have answered these questions above you next have to begin to prioritize them.
And this is how it works. Setting the overall goal and chipping away at it as you go. Running into obstacles and then seeking out solutions that will put you one step closer to your goal.

This is a great place to mention the motivation factor again. Looking at this, you can see how if achieving the dream is really not that high on the value and priority list, then this is just starting to get too involved to be worth the effort.

There is just way too much that needs to be done that an external source of motivation simply can’t be there all the time. The motivation has to be burning INSIDE. Crackling away, keeping the temperature up so high that energy needs to be vented through action or you’ll explode.

Enjoy Everything Or Don’t Do It

Here is one of the most important things I have ever learned. It doesn’t just apply to setting goals either. Ready? Here is is, “Enjoy what you are doing at all times.” If you don’t like something, get it out of your life. Get it out of your life or at least have a plan that you can start on immediately to change your circumstance.

I honestly feel that people concentrate way too much on the end point using goal setting theory. The result or the payoff if you will. What ends up happening is a lot of investment in an unpleasant activity. All in the hopes that the agitation and drudgery will have a payoff once the goal is achieved. HOPEFULLY.

The flip side would be to always do something that you enjoy and then if the payoff comes, great. If there is no payoff then you were happy the whole time and in fact, that is really the payoff you were after anyway.

The only reason we use goal setting theory in the first place is to achieve something at the completion of the goal that will either cause us more happiness or avoid further pain. That is the general way of thinking at any rate. But what if the process of achieving the goal had its own rewards. Would you worry if your goals changed at some point? You wouldn’t stress that you weren’t getting there at mach 1 at least. Would the effort expended be classified as life sucking work? NOPE!

It’s all about the process, the journey. Learn to enjoy each moment of the process and the journey will be spectacular. That way you won’t just be happy at an end point, but happy all the time.

Goal setting theory is making an action plan designed to motivate and guide you toward a goal. Nothing wrong with that.

Studies by Edwin A. Locke (“the goal setting theory guy”) and his colleagues have shown that more specific and ambitious goals lead to more performance improvement than easy or general goals. As long as the person accepts the goal, has the ability to attain it, and does not have conflicting goals (like enjoying themselves), there is a positive linear relationship between goal difficulty and task performance.

Some goals can be achieved but not held long term. These are the ones that suck and can lead to regret. You sacrifice for a long time doing something you dont want to. You show discipline and sacrifice. Maybe you actually achieve the goal but then something out of your control takes it away. Huge feeling of loss with this scenario. But if you loved the activity. No loss. Just a little bit of suck at a 90/10 good to suck ratio.

Look at those buddhist monks in the picture up top. They spend hundreds of hours making pretty sand mandalas. Then they wipe it away and spread the sand into a flowing river. All that work, gone forever.

The end game is not in your control. Only what you do now. You can have fun and head towards a chosen goal. You cannot control the outcome and when you get there. The world is too unpredictable.

2017 has begun and if you are like me, you’ve made a few goals for yourself. So what goals have you set for yourself this year? Finally get in your best shape? Get out of debt? Whatever goal you have set, I’m going to give you some tips that I use below.

First Tip To Goal Setting: Reminders to stay focused – 

Put your goal where you can see it. When I log off the net, sitting right there on my laptop for physical goals I see:

PHYSICAL GOALS 2008: (It’s 2017 now)
Do 5 freestanding Hand Stand Pushups.
Be able to do backflips on demand.
Walk 100 feet on my hands.
Do a 360 on my snowboard.

Looking back now and seeing goals I did not accomplish STINGS. I know the reason behind not accomplishing these goals is a lack of focus. You need to be constantly reminded to stay focused on one main goal. You don’t have enough time or energy to give only 10%  of yourself to multiple activities unless they are synergistic.

For example: Writing, editing and promoting a new book this year while trying to learn freestanding handstand pushups. Not going to work. But walking 100 feet on my hands and the handstand pushups ARE synergistic. So the stretching, strength training and balance work I do for one, helps the other.

I put my primary goals on a list in my phone and in my workout planner. I also always leave a tab on my computer open to know what related research or activity I am doing related to that goal.

Second Tip To Goal Setting: Replacing The Routines

The second thing you want to do is set up a bunch of regular and routine actions that will bring you closer to your goal if you do them on a daily basis.

For example, if getting leaner and losing some fat this year is a top priority then diet is going to be a big factor. Take a look at some of your habitual actions that you do night now that might be blocking your progress. Then replace them!

FOR EXAMPLE: If you wake up and usually have a bagel and a coffee, that’s a great place to start. Take that morning ritual and replace the bagel with a three egg omelette.

Something as simple as this over the course of a couple of weeks will really make a difference on the scale.

Tip Three For Goal Setting: Dare To Dream

There is something to be said about falling asleep with your goals on your mind. I use it in all areas of my life on a continuous basis. When you go to sleep, or when you have a moment with nothing else to do, daydream like when you were a kid. The kind of daydreams you had where you totally got sucked in and everything felt so real.

Athletes have proven the effectiveness of visualization.

When I first started lifting, I saw a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a side chest pose. It blew my mind. I knew that the secret to getting a well muscled chest like that was to lift heavy with proper form and give my body proper nutrition.

Every night before chest day I would think about my routine and doing one more rep than last time on the bench press. I would really get into it inside my head. So much so that my chest would twitch while I lay there falling asleep. I would dream about the workout and how I would look after all my hard work. I could see myself on the beach looking ripped and muscular and feeling confident in how I looked.

You can laugh, but that was very important to me at that time. Never be ashamed of why you want something. Just want it and go after it. Set your goals in stone.

Those little dreams by themselves didn’t help me create the body I wanted but those thoughts fed my desire to train as hard as I could and to eat correctly. I knew what I wanted and I was willing to do what it took to achieve those same feelings I would get when I was falling asleep.

In my mind, I knew how good it would feel to achieve my goals and because of my “day dreaming” I was motivated. I could see and actually FEEL what it would be like to achieve my dreams.

Tip Four On Goal Setting: Get Your Tools

Once you have your goals written down, and you are replacing old habits with better habits and dreaming of success there is one more thing you need to do. Set up your tools. Make sure you know exactly what you need to do and get the tools to help you succeed.

If you need to eat better to lose fat, one of your tools will be well thought out food shopping lists and perhaps buying a scale. If you feel like you are one of those “skinny fat” people then you will want to know how to add resistance training into your lifestyle so that you have the right “bumps” in the right places.

Perhaps this year you simply want to feel better and have more energy while losing a few pounds. You want to learn proper stretching techniques and how to combine weight training with cardio into your lifestyle. You want to do it without getting worn out by the end of the week.

That’s good stuff.

Doing a little research and finding the tools you need will allow you to know exactly what you should be doing and when you should be doing it so that you don’t get held back by confusion and indecision. This way you can apply all your energy to what’s important. Making 2017 your best year ever!

Changing Your Goals Midstream

If you learn or stumble across something that makes you want to change your goal, then just do it.

You should keep in mind that failure to meet goals does not matter as long as you learn from it. Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting theory system.

This brings us back to the point I was talking about before. You must enjoy the process as well as the final outcome for this very reason. If after 15 years of working towards a goal it suddenly no longer holds any sparkle for you, simply move onto something else!

There is absolutely no loss in this because striving for that goal just gave you 15 years of pleasure. It just happens that at this point in your life now, the outcome is no longer important. Move on, no big deal.

You must remember that your goals will change as you mature. Adjust them regularly to reflect this growth in your personality. If goals no longer hold any attraction for you let them go.

I thought I wanted a Porsche, maybe a H1 or a Dodge Viper. So I worked on motivating myself to make enough to get one. I went out and bought some car magazines and looked through them. I was following my own advice about taking action and visualization. But while I was doing this I suddenly realized I didn’t really want a fancy car. I was actually very happy with my 2005 Chevy Blazer! It did everything I always wanted an SUV to do.

The expensive car goal was set in me by common society. I was trying to motivate myself to make money for something I didn’t even want. At least now I new that this particular item wasn’t on the list anymore. I was free to pursue something that had deep seeded meaning to me.

Goal setting theory is your servant, not your master. It should bring you real pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

If you are no longer feeling those thing, there is no longer a point.

My Key Points To Make Goal Setting Theory Work For You

Goal setting is an important method of accomplishing any lifetime achievement. However, there are some key points that you should consider before setting your goals. Let’s take a look at what those are.

1. Deciding what is important for you to achieve in your life and making your choices based on this knowledge.

This one is a big bump in the road for some people. When I was younger I wanted a massive, worthy, “save the world” kind of goal. I just couldn’t find a mission that I wanted to fully apply myself to and I knew this was a problem according to most experts in the field. “Unfocused you will be,” Yoda says.

Then I realized something. What I really wanted out of life was freedom, fun and happiness. At that point, I didn’t want to achieve any pinpoint objective at all. What I wanted was a “way” of life. My goal was not a thing but a lifestyle.

Now this realization was important because I didn’t have to pick one thing and center my life around it. What I ended up doing was following my heart and passions all the time and having fun in each moment. “YES” if it led to freedom and happiness. “NO” if it didn’t or there was no massive payoff.

When I started having fun all the time, I was being active in the area of my joy. The funny thing is that until you are in your area of joy, you’re probably not doing all the things that you need to do in order to be a “success” in what you’re working on anyway.

Kids are pushed into university all the time without any idea what they want to do or who they are at their core. They get pushed into chasing a goal that they didn’t pick in the first place. They never wanted to be a doctor so they hate studying doctor stuff and they flunk out. Maybe if they had just a year off to explore different areas of the world and think about what brings them joy at the core of their being they would be able to get into the flow developing a self with more integrity. Which turns into a successful person in the end.

How To Choose The Right Goals For You Using Elimination Rounds And Happiness

So the first step is deciding exactly what goals you want to accomplish. For me that’s freedom and happiness. Now you have to define that. What is happy? What is free?

Sometimes picking the actual goals you want to go after is harder than setting and accomplishing the goals themselves. Basically to narrow down what you should be focusing on, you can choose to work any goal that you feel is necessary for your health, stability and happiness.

No matter how much time you invest in accomplishing these goals, you always feel that your time is well invested.

Goal setting is nothing more than a formal process for personal planning. By using goal setting theory on a routine basis you decide what you want to achieve, and then move in a step-by-step manner towards the achievement of these goals.

The process of setting goals and targets allows you to choose where you want to go in life. By knowing exactly what you want to achieve, you know what you have to concentrate on to achieve it. You also learn to recognize what is actually nothing more than a distraction.

Goal setting theory is a standard technique used by high achievers in all fields. Note “high achievers” not necessarily “happy people”. It gives you long-term vision and provides you with short-term motivation. As long as you’re chasing unicorns and not dragons. Unless you like dragons…. tangent.

By setting goals, you will also raise your self confidence as you recognize your and ability to meet the goals that you have set. The process of achieving goals and seeing this achievement gives you confidence that you will be able to achieve higher and more difficult goals later on.

I’ve pulled on the memory of finishing bootcamp, battle school and a tour many times. I look at those experiences and it gives me confidence that I can handle even more challenges.

There was also a day when I realized the Army was no longer for me. Let go. Move on.

Conclusion? Pick goals that are truly want you want out of life and the motivation will be there to take the required actions. The time it takes to achieve the goal becomes secondary, thus eliminating a ton of stress. Even if you never achieve the goal or change your goal 15 years from now the time will still be well spent.

Aim for deep happiness now. Not the “I just bought a new car and am now in dept,” kind of temporary happiness. You know what I mean. The, “I just spent six hours painting a woodland scene. It was great.” Puts down brush and takes a sip of coffee.  A man behind him asks, “Excuse me. Are your paintings for sale? I run a small art studio…”

“Why yes they are! Funny you should walk by, I always wanted to be able to make a living painting.”

Goals In Life: How To Overcome Challenges To Goal Achievement

how to achieve your goals in lifeWelcome to the goals in life series. Today we tackle the difference between goal setting, gut checking and how to overcome challenges to goal achievement.

I saw the most amazing thing the other day and it shows the importance of questions. I will get to the story in a minute. First a little more about the idea above.

What’s the difference? Well with goal setting you have to know what you want and then go about a course of actions that take you closer to your goals in life. With gut checking, you just feel if a given circumstance feels right and then adjust from there.

I think it depends on your personality type and goals as to which approach to life works for you. See, personally, my goal in life is to be healthy and happy. My goals in life are also WHO I am. When I am being myself and doing the things that make me happy, guess what? I’m healthy and happy.

So as I go through my days, I don’t go through a check list of life. I don’t reference my goals for family, health, money and spirituality and see if I’m on track. I take the day as it comes and do more of the things that I enjoy. When something doesn’t feel right, I drop it immediately.

A little bohemian you say? Maybe for you and your approach to life but remember my goals are to be healthy and happy. So if I’m doing what I want. I’m happy. If I do some handstands in the living room and some skipping in the basement in the morning, then some stretching in the evening. I’ll be healthy.

Why those exercises in particular? Because I enjoyed them on that day. What if I was supposed to do deadlifts? Well, I know that I like and enjoy doing deadlifts generally. So if I’m supposed to be doing them today and for some reason I don’t feel like doing them. Then there is probably a reason why. I’m just not consciously aware of it. That’s gut check living.

Goal setting should be like driving a car from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. You have a destination, a map and a plan. You’ve done your diligence and can move forward with somewhat of an expectation of success.

HOWEVER… That doesn’t mean that when you hit Calgary, there won’t be any road work or detours. You may run into an avalanche on the Hope Highway as well. Now you need to adapt and overcome depending on your level of urgency and the fashion in which you want to arrive.

You can’t sit at the detour refusing to leave your planned route. You also can’t just head south hoping to make it to Vancouver.

Always have a destination and a plan. But in order to achieve your goals in life you must always adapt, change course, correct course and overcome the obstacles.

Nothing ever goes as smoothy as expected and usually takes 3 times as long.

Writing Down Your Goals In Life

Now that does not mean that I won’t write things down to get them done. A lot of times I’ll write things down so that I can remember something that might seem interesting to me. Something that I think would be cool to be able to do or have. Then as long as it’s fun, I’ll take actions that bring me closer to that goal. The moment that I stop ENJOYING THE PROCESS, I know that’s a gut check to take the off ramp. There just might be a cutie in the small town off to the right that I wasn’t consciously aware of. However, my gut knows that it will make me happy.

Speaking of off ramps..

Slightly off topic but have you ever noticed that you could spend hours fishing, not catch a thing and then go home happy? Does everything feel the same for you when you do taxes?

That’s the difference between enjoying the process (gut checking) or goal setting by the normal definition.

Gut checking is more like the Law of Attraction type stuff. For instance, the other day I made an intention of bringing in 101 new members to my online coaching. Was it because I WANTED 101 new clients specifically? No. It was because I wanted an extra $2000 dollars that those clients would pay me. As far as clients go, what I really wanted was a couple of people that were committed to changing their lives for the better, that would listen to and do what I say.

Here is the mistake I made.

If I wanted an extra $2000, do you think that somewhere in the infinite wisdom (smile) of my life time experiences and connections I made… that there could be an easier and more direct way to come across that money? You bet your right sock with the hole in it there is.

In this day and age of technology and social networking, a person can become a millionaire in seconds. I’m serious. You know how you can put your phone up to the radio now and it will find the song for you to download? What if I’ve been gut checking my way to making music? I can’t figure it out but for some reason, I’ve just been pushed to make a song.

Then, a friend I’ve made because we share so much in common, just happens to get it on the radio. It plays in my city, 1 million people download it in 5 minutes for .99 at itunes and there ya go. No fuss, no muss, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I could never plan that out! I could however, gut check my way to doing things that I enjoyed. Things that didn’t make sense in the traditional ‘get results’ method of doing things.

Enjoy the process because the process is your life.

How To Overcome Challenges To Goal Achievement

How To Overcome Challenges To Goal AchievementEveryone runs into problems, or better said – challenges. Problems stated in a positive tone, we can call challenges. It sounds way more fun and positive. So, on that note, everyone runs into challenges in life. For those of us that set goals, there will always be challenges that we run into along the way to make things exciting.

Therein lies the secret of how to overcome challenges to goal achievement. The secret is attitude. An attitude of tenacity and persistence. An admirable courage… to win.

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”
Earl Nightingale

At the core of every epic story is a tale of our hero overcoming obstacles to his goal or mission. Your life is the greatest story ever told… to you. And that’s all that matters.

Some people run into challenges and can’t see a way to solve them. So they quit on themselves. What I want to share with you is a story that will show you that when you have a big enough “why” you want it, you will always be able to figure out how to get over the challenge.

The key is that your attitude be positive enough that you’ll keep looking for the solution UNTIL you find it AND in the attitude that THERE IS an answer to your challenge.

The bigger you make your why, the more extreme you will be willing to go in order to do what it takes to achieve the outcome. A weak why is pretty much a forgone conclusion that you are two steps from throwing in the towel.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself,” the alchemist replies. “And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”The Alchemist

Here is a commonly repeated story to put the idea in context. If someone says they want you to lift that truck over there. You would probably think “Why would I want to do that?” Then the crickets would chirp inside your head but besides that, dead silence in the old thinking compartment. Now if you upped the ante and someone said “Lift that truck because your baby is stuck under the tire!” Now you are a bit more motivated and if you can not lift the truck initially, you most likely will not just give up. First you look for levers. Then you call over people close by to help. Then you phone in emergency services. Actually, and here is the point, you will do whatever it takes because why you are doing it really, really matters to you.

Quickly, I want to tie this into how to overcome challenges to goal achievement in fitness. An excuse like “I don’t have enough time” or “It’s boring and I don’t feel like it” are sad ways of saying that you really don’t care that much. These are not big challenges to overcome. It’s some simple planning. If you really can’t figure out the solution to this then the “why” part of you doing this is really weak and it simply is not that important to you.

the how gives the whatThe recent story that I saw was about a rancher that was into bow-hunting. He had practised long and hard to be ready for bow season because he had a once in a lifetime opportunity to go hunt elk. Then he got his arm snapped in two by a bull just weeks before the season opened up. Disappointed that his dream would slip away he came up with a solution.

Since he could not hold the bow out straight with a broken arm, he switched arms. Now he could hold the bow out but did not have a healthy arm to pull the string back. That still did not stop him. He sewed a clip to his vest, and clipped the bow string into the clip. Then he pushed the bow outwards away from him instead of the traditional way of pulling the string back. Then when he was ready to fire, he had a trigger release mechanism that only required him to press the button. With that, he went on the trip of his dreams.

When you can get a big enough “Why,” you will seek answers to your challenges until they reveal themselves.

Broken down…

Overcoming challenges to goal achievement takes persistence. Mix it in with focus and the courage to always move forward. Add a positive mental attitude that expects success and the ending to your hero’s adventure will be epic.

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