Goal Setting – Part 7 – Hurdles

Sorry folks, today is the day when we face reality.  Up to this point it has all been the nice stuff, the dreaming and thinking about all the great stuff that is to come but today we switch hats and look on the dull side of life.  What is going to stop us.  What are the many hurdles that we are going to face along the way?  Might as well face the now and decide if we are willing to overcome them that be surprised in the days and weeks to come.

I keep going back to the reasons why people label themselves as quitters and lose faith in their ability to set and achieve goals.   In my opinion it is the lack of willingness to take step 7 that is by far and away the biggest cause of this erosion of confidence.  I have seen it happen to myself and others when the reality of what it takes to achieve a goal is ignored or overlooked at the outset.

I once met a girl in a bar and I asked her what she wanted her career to be (I ask all the heavy questions on first dates). She told me that she was “going to be” a professional golfer.  In that moment I imbued her with all the qualities of a professional golfer; patience, dedication, self-discipline, self-confidence, mental sharpness, fitness etc. and it took me five years and a failed engagement to work out that she possessed precisely none of those qualities. She had no idea what it was going to take to be a serious competitor at golf.

Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t think big but this is the whole point about this process.  When you really take a long, hard look at what it takes to get what you want you might decide that it isn’t worth it.  And there would be nothing wrong with you making that decision but make it early.  I had a boss who when in competitive bidding for jobs had a saying “the first man out is the first winner.”  There are few things more futile than spinning your wheels, burning your time and energy and money on a goal that you never had a chance of achieving.

A client the other day had to face up to the fact that this goal meant living outside of his comfort zone everyday for six months.  Could he do that?  No, so he revised it to one where he could take weekends off and the goal was alive again.  We added to his list that he would have to be willing to be vulnerable, to be shot at (metaphorically only), to risk relationships, to borrow money, to risk failing, to get cold, wet & miserable on many occasions and so on.  All of these need to be examined.  How cold and wet exactly?  Where is his debt tolerance?

It may seem like we are taking up time here but if you set off before this step is done you will waste much more time.  If you give up setting goals then time will be all you have.  So dig deep and take a long look at what you are willing to do to get your goal.

Of course we have step 4 to compare this long list of blockers and costs to.  As long as step 4 has more positive benefits than step 7 has prices to pay pthen your goal lives and you can start to take mental steps forward with step 8.


Goal Setting – Part 6 – Timeline – Gift yourself an extra year’s income

I can keep this step pretty short because we already touched on it in SMART Goals.  It is as simple as giving yourself a deadline.   Something happens when you set a deadline. I seems to focus the mind.

Don’t just set an arbitrary deadline though. Do the same exercise though as you did on the size of the goal.  Cut the time back, add some time.  Find where feels comfortable and bring the deadline a shade closer.  There will be a date that you’ll tell yourself that you could NEVER achieve your goal by. That is fine.   Push the date out slightly and check that you haven’t pushed it so far that there is no urgency to start now.  Somewhere in there is your sweetspot.

Last week I was coaching a client on this and we brought his increased income goals forward from December 2013 to October 2012.  That is 14 months.  His goal was significantly higher than a 10% increase but even at 10% we just created an additional year’s income for him.  In 10 minutes.  Does coaching work?  Is it worth it?  I think so.

That’s all for today folks.  Give your goal a date get ready to start to work towards it  but only when we’re done with the 12 steps.  Until then keep revisiting and refining the first six steps.

Goal Setting – Part 5 – Where am I?

Compass By Vinicius de Carvalho Venâncio





This is a stage that I often personally struggle to complete properly because it involves facing up to reality.  The stage is called “Where are you now?”  Simply put you have to be honest with yourself in terms of how close you are to your goal you are today.

There is a joke about a man who was lost and he pulled over to ask a local directions to a far-away town.  The unhelpful reply was “If you want to get there you don’t want to start from here.”  There is a route from anywhere to anywhere else but pretending that you are starting from way ahead of where you are will only delay real progress and pretending that you are further from the goal than you actually are will erect unnecessary barriers.

What assets do you have in place?  What competencies do you already have?  What (tested) connections already exist?  Spend a good deal of time really identifying your exact position right now and you will move through the remaining steps much more smoothly and with greater confidence.

If we return once again to reasons why people quit on goals, a large reason is that they only skim over this stage.  They assume that they are much closer to their goals than they were.  Then, just a few quick steps in to the journey  they realize that they have a much longer and harder journey than they had planned for.  At this point most people turn right around and quit, labelling themslevs as quitters in the process and they stop setting any kinds of conscious goals.  So my advice is to not declare a goal to yourself or anyone else until you have completed this process.  Doing otherwise means that you will not be set up to succeed.  That’s not to say that you can’t achieve the goals but why make it harder than necessary?

Tomorrow we get serious.

Here is an interesting question for you.

Goal Setting – Part 4 – Why?

Assuming that you have followed me through parts 1-3, you now have a specific written goal that you really want to achieve and believe is achievable.   Even if you have no idea how you will achieve it at this point that doesn’t matter.  Stop there.  Now we work on ourselves before we work on the goal.

We ask ourselves why do we want it?  Spend some creative time writing out all the reasons that you will benefit from achieving the goal.  For instance my income goal is now partly tied to me buying myself a top notch driver to aid my golf game.  I went to be fitted yesterday and am adding up to 70 yards from my unfitted driver and that’s a huge incentive for me to earn more so that I can purchase that club as a reward.

The reason that we write out all the ways that we will benefit from the goal is that a proper goal is hard to achieve and we need enough to draw us forward to help us over come all the obstacles that we will face along the way (identifying these is a future step in this process).  So who can you help when you achieve your goal?  How will you feel?  What else would achieving this goal be a platform for building towards?  Think about it from all angles and make note of even slight positives, they may become more significant over time.  Your list should be as long as you can make it.

This is not a one time exercise, you shall return to this stage a number of times during the life of the goal to refresh and add to the list and remind yourself why you started out in pursuit of this goal in the first place.  If it is a big goal there will be times when you will want to quit and having this list will help to stop you giving in to temptation.

Simply put there has to be a huge WHY you want the goal and that can be lots of little ones or one monster.  I advocate focussing you list down to a limited number of larger whys rather than going for one extreme or the other (lots of tiny whys or just one mega-whopper).  Don’t start on a goal that doesn’t have lots of exciting reasons to achieve it.  That is a sure-fire recipe for “shiny object syndrome” where you chase more interesting, exciting opportunities to the detriment of your main goal.  Even if you have one huge why at the start there will be times when that why seems pointless and it needs the support of other whys that ebb and flow in their significance too so that at any given time one or other of them is keeping you focussed.

The next step is to set a baseline and we’ll cover that tomorrow.

Goal Setting – Part 3 – Specificity

Someone about to take Step 3. Let’s hope they did step 1 & 2 first.

Now that you have a pre-qualified goal that you REALLY, REALLY want and that you believe that you can achieve we can move to step 3.  You just write it down.  On paper and in your own handwriting.  Simple eh?

Well yes and no.  It is simple to write something down but you have to smarten up the goal.  It has to be:

S-Specific – Be precise.  Do you mean “I will earn $195,495 dollars”?   Or do you really mean that “My account will show that figure”?  Or do you actually mean that “I will deposit that much into my account” between now and the deadline (more of which in a future post)?  All three require drastically different actions to achieve them. The first allows taxes to erode the final amount, the second does not but also does stipulate where that money comes from.

I am such a believer in the power of specificity that one of my goals is “To achieve total financial freedom, defined as …….., through my own efforts or those whom I have employed.”  This doesn’t allow me to rely on the lottery (which I don’t play so that would be hard) or, more significantly, inheritance.  If my mother died tomorrow I would be well on my way to my current version of financial independence but I don’t want that to happen so I have to give the super-conscious explicit instructions about what I do and don’t want to happen.

For instance last year I wrote out a goal “By 31 December 2011 I have played on the final table of a poker tournament in Las Vegas.”  I had no plans to go to Vegas but, no joke, three weeks later we get a call on a Saturday from two friends saying that they were getting married in Vegas the following weekend.  We were there like a shot.  I hadn’t really had time to put aside a large buy-in to a big tournament so I played the Sunday evening tournament in my hotel.  There were 36 players.  I made it to the final table and busted out in 8th place.  The thing was only 4 places paid.  What I should have written was “by 31 December 2011 I have played AND CASHED on the final table of a poker tournament in Las Vegas.”  It’s all about details people, details.

M- Measureable.  There must be a point in time (ideally your deadline or before) when you can shout Yes and declare that you have achieved your goal.  “I just wanna be happy” is not a goal that you can achieve.  “I want to be rich”, likewise.  How will you measure it?

A- Achievable by YOU.  “My daughter will be an Olympic Gymnast in 2024.”  Nope, not up to you.  Some people get their knckers in a twist over achievability and it is this thing about setting stretch goals.  Don’t let limiting beliefs tell you want you can and can’t achieve.  As long as YOU believe that YOU can achieve it it qualifies.  Just yesterday there was an article about a man who walked up Mount Kilimanjaro ON HIS HANDS.  He has no legs.  Now personally I would have thought that would have been impossible but the fact remains that my thoughts are no match for his belief.

A2 – Aligned to your values.  Some people really hate the limiting beliefs that crop up when we talk about ‘achievability’ and I understand why which is why goals setting in a coaching engagement is so powerful – we can coach our clients through those limiting situations.  That said I have seen the issue of achievability totally avoided and it was taught that A stands for “Aligned with your values”.  The point being here that you won’t really follow through on something that you don’t believe is right to want, do or achieve.  I totally believe this to be true so I advocate that you do both A’s.

R-Relevant to your larger goals.  Again it is easy to see why we set so many goals that we fail to achieve.  “By the end of summer 2013 I have climbed Mount Everest” would require me to drop what I am doing and go climb mountains for 18 months to have even a tiny a shot at achieving my goal.  The problem is that I have a business that I enjoy, a family that I love, a financial base that I am nurturing and all of that would have to be sacrificed.  I’m not prepared to give up on the bigger goals that I have around my life to achieve this one momentus one.  So just make sure that each goal takes you towards a bigger goal and adds momentum to the direction of your life.

R2- Reasonable.  I have heard it said that R stands for Reasonable and I can’t stand that word.  Don’t be reasonable, be unreasonable.  Be demanding.

T-Timebound.  We will cover this in more detail in a future post but as Brian Tracy said “A goal without a deadline is a wish”.

So you now have written down a SMART goal but you are not done yet.  Re-write it out in the present tense.  Take out words like  “will” and “by” and heaven forbid and “should” or “could”.  For example, “By 31 December 2013 I will have earned $100,000 from public speaking.” should be rewritten to “On or before 31 December 2013 I have in my hand a cheque (or equivalent) that takes my total earnings from public speaking to over $100,000.”  Tomorrow never comes so write your goals like you have them today.

So as you can see there’s a lot more to writing out your goals than just writing them out.

And even if you never review it, and I advocate weekly if not daily reviews, this exercise is scarily powerful.

Tomorrow we talk about the Why? of your goal.

Goal Setting – Part 2 – Belief


Once you strongly desire the attainment of a goal you have to check that you really believe that you can achieve it.  And this is a fine line to tread.  You can’t know that you can achieve a goal and still call it a goal.  If you know with certainty that you could achieve it then all that is between you and the achievement is a set of predefined tasks.  For instance I can’t really set a goal to go and buy a pint of milk.  I either do or I don’t. It’s a task or a set of tasks.

But on the other side of that fine line is that you have to believe that you can achieve it even if you don’t yet know how.  I worked with a client earlier this week on exactly this point and we found that his belief was that he could achieve a target that was 30% above where he started.  Lower than that and he was sure he could achieve it and above that his belief started to wane.  So we found his level of discomfort and set the bar there.  Within one year that effort to find the stretch target that he was just uncomfortable with will be worth to him exactly one hundred times what he invested in that coaching session.

So for all that people will tell you to reach for the stars I would say that is bad advice particularly if you are talking about an immediate goal.  As a long-term one then I could be persuaded that star-gazing works but starting where you are you just have to stretch and then stretch again.  Going back to my point of yesterday about how people lose their willingness to set goals by failing to achieve so many, well I think that it is as much because people declare goals that they never really believed that they could achieve.  So they stop that silly game but throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Of course some don’t.  “I WILL be a superstar singer.” they say.  But they know and we all know that they lack the raw talent, attitude, drive or acumen to achieve it and just saying it out loud doesn’t make it real.  Not to us and not to them either.  And over time they will “learn” to be meek and drift along and not to be ambitious.  That would be the wrong lesson to learn from that experience.

So, in summary, when it comes to goal setting do a gut check.  If you know you can achieve a goal then it is not a proper goal.  As we used to say in the UK, “J.F.D.I.” (please don’t make me expand on that one).  If you think that you can achieve it but you have no idea how you will do so then you are in the right ball park so play around until you find the point that you say “nope, not now, I really can’t see myself achieving anything more than X.”  X marks the sweet spot.  Congratulations.  Hold that thought Step 2 is complete. Step 3 is tomorrow.

A 12 Step, Guaranteed Goal Setting Process – Step 1 – Desire

Further to yesterday’s post about planning your life and even your vacation I want to take a few days to step you through a 12 step system that will guarantee that you reach your goals.

Many people stop setting goals for themselves because, along the way somewhere, they lost confidence in their innate ability to reach them.  And yet they constantly make blind strides towards the things that are important to them without even knowing it.  This process just shines a light on how you are already achieving the degree of success that you are achieving and by exposing the techniques I hope that you’ll employ them more consciously to achieve greater, more deliberate success.

Step 1.  Desire.  In my opinion the greatest reason why people give up setting goals is due to the fact that they fail so many times to achieve what they set out to achieve but never stop to ask why.  The biggest culprit in my personal and observed experience is desire.  We want a result but we don’t deeply desire it.  Hence the effort to get it is too great and we quit and label ourselves “quitters”.

That is so wrong.  I don’t think that the world really needs another person writing another book but if I was to be persuaded to write one the title would be “Quitting is for Winners”.  Winners only go after a limited number of things at a time and they quit everything else.  So should you.  Quit striving for the goals that you just want and go after the ones that you NEED.  Deep down, MUST HAVE’s.

Take a page now and list out all the things that you are working towards in your life today.  Are any of them “nice-to-have”s?  If they are, I suggest that your likelihood of achieving them until all of your musts are achieved (unless they are very easy to get in which case they aren’t really goals they are tasks) are slimmer than you light like to admit.  More importantly they are stealing resources from your NEEDS.  Time, money, energy, focus all getting spread thinly won’t get you what you NEED and very often they won’t even get you what you want.

So strike the unnecessary goals from your list and devote all of your resources to achieving the goals that you truly desire.

How can you tell which is which?   I ask my clients to use a scale of 0-10 with0 being low and 10 being high.  I them get them to ask themselves if I didn’t achieve this goal what impact would it have on my life.  And be tough.  What tangible, spiritual, long-term, short-term impact is going to happen if you don’t achieve this goal.   Kick it around and don’t just take the first thought that comes to you.  Is this a MUST HAVE?

Sense check your work.  How many Must Haves do you have?  Ten is probably enough, more than that and my experience suggests that only the most prolific achievers with teams of people to support them will achieve that.  Why not start with just 2 or 3 until you build your goal-setting muscles?  For now though keep a list of 10 because we still have another filter to apply tomorrow.

So in summary, thin your list of things to do by focusing more of your resources on fewer, more important goals and you’ll immediately start to get better results.

Essential tools for success – Vacation planning!

Some beach, Somewhere

“Some Beach, Somewhere”

I read somewhere that Jim Rohn is quoted as saying  “I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacation with better care than they do their lives.  Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change. ”

I used to think that meant that people really did plan their vacations but now I’m not so sure.  I still believe that they put more thought and effort into where they will be and what they will be doing on vacation than they do about what they will be doing a year from now in their real lives but there is still a huge gap in what proper vacation planning looks like and what most people actually do.

Sure they come up with a budget and a desired location (hopefully in that order) but very quickly it just becomes a logistical challenge to be solved.  How can you get to the airport for a 4am flight without that costing you $200 in airport parking for the 10 days?  The task is now to get there, be there and get back in one piece with enough evidence to make your friends jealous. True or true?

What about if you approached your vacation from the point of view of “I am in this state (describe it) emotionally, mentally and physically.  I have allotted X many days for a vacation and in that time I would like to return myself to this (describe it) new state of emotional, mental and physical health.”  These may be tough to quantify but the process of asking yourself those questions is very valuable.

Your options then start suggest themselves to you.  If you want to lose weight or clear your mind of clutter then is an all inclusive booze cruise in Mexico really going to return you home BETTER able to complete your work and succeed in your career than you are today?  What about that “once in a lifetime trip to Peru” where you’ll rush around tourist spot to tourist spot, snapping photos and meeting an indeterminate number and quality of fellow travelers?  Does that help you to achieve your overall goals?  It gets you some great photos, a badge of honor for having been there but are you better off overall?

What about the vacation where you just stay home and read those books you’ve been meaning to read or visit with friends for longer than you have been able to for ages?  Or you take off to a local spa resort so there is minimal travel required and that money goes into the delux package of pampering that you earned over the last 12 months.

It is not for me or anyone else to  judge your choices in what you do or where you go on vacation but I do ask you to ask yourself; did this (or will this) set me up for a better life in the future or not?  If your past vacation choices haven’t done that for you then do you need to start  to REALLY plan your next vacation?

I think that Tim does a nice job here of basically saying “when you know what the end game is there is no such thing as wasted time.”

Sell, Lead, Succeed!


Tom Petty was right. The waiting is the hardest part!

We always seem to be waiting. On the surface waiting sucks, but why not take advantage of the down time? Waiting can equal learning while you are:

  • Waiting for, or riding public transportation
  • Commuting to work and/or driving to meetings
  • Waiting for an appointment
  • Waiting in line at a store
  • Waiting on a golf course between holes

… You the idea. There are many other examples.

  • When you are on public transportation or waiting anywhere with respect to your role, have some “catalog time” with your company’s literature. It is incredible how much more comfortable I became with catalogs by focusing on them as little as 10 minutes per day.
  • When you are commuting to work in your vehicle, or driving to appointments, listen to podcasts or audio books that will help you with business and/or personal development.
  • When you…

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