Goal Setting

If we don’t set goals, we can’t achieve them. If we don’t know where we want to go, we can’t get there. 

In life, we are always moving in a certain direction. We always have something that we want, that we are going towards. But if we don’t take some time to properly plan, we risk climbing on a ladder leaned on the wrong wall. And in a way that takes us a very long time in a painful procedure of grinding through life. And we could spend years and years going toward something we don’t really want or it doesn’t really fulfil us. It just doesn’t bring us what we hoped it will.

So if you are serious about making a difference in your life and the lives of other people, it is crucial that you set goals for yourself. We will go through the full process of goal setting today from your long-term vision and goals to medium and short-term goals. The goal-setting process will also help us discover the values that underpin our goal-seeking attitude. 

1. Man as a goal-striving mechanism

As explored in detail by Maxwell Maltz in his masterpiece Psychocybernetics, we understand that we are always moving somewhere. Like riding a bicycle or steering a boat, you can’t really change directions if you are not moving. And the thing is we actually are always moving. It’s just that the majority of the time we don’t know what we are moving to. We haven’t decided, our unconscious beliefs have done that for us. We are on autopilot. The autopilot is taking us somewhere we don’t know unless we become conscious and take control of the ship. 

The problem is we could have completely destructive beliefs guiding us in the wrong direction. The goals we have in our heads could be completely out of line with what is actually important to us and could be blind sighting us. We haven’t really chosen then and are just going with the flow of life instead of taking the reigns. 

We will try to change this today. And we are starting at the end.

2. How do you want to be remembered after you die?

As Stephen Covey suggests in his classic “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, start with the end in mind. So the first step in the goal-setting process for your life is to think about your death. Write down your eulogy. Write down how you want to be remembered after you die. It may seem like a strange thing to do but just go with it. This will help you flesh out the things that are important to you. It may open up many many areas in your life where what you say you want and your actions are the complete opposite. For example you say you want to be remembered as a person who is full of life but you are actually shying away from excitement. Or you say you want to be remembered as a great parent or a loving spouse, but are spending most of your time at work.

I wrote mine in late 2018. It could use some work as I have grown and changed as a person since then already but the majority of what I wrote back then still stands. 

“Lan was a good person. He knew how to enjoy life and share this joy with people around him. He was loving and compassionate. He was a person you could always count on for his help. He knew and has seen the world and its people. He encouraged us to be better every day and gave us an example of what can be achieved in life. He knew how to listen, to hear. He was an integral part of the social life of a wide circle of friendships from across the world. He took good care of himself and everyone in his circle. He was a good friend. Someone you want next to you in good and bad times. To be a little bit crazy with him or solve the most difficult existential problems. He was a successful business owner, a father, a friend and a happy person.”

This is the short version, I have pages and pages of notes and connected texts that will surely come up as I continue to create content around these topics.

For now, I want to encourage you to spend some time thinking about the day you will leave this earth and write down what you want people that you care the most to say, think, and feel about you.

3. Your core values

Before we take the next step in the goal-setting process I would like to encourage you to identify your core values. The core values you identify will help you put your eulogy in perspective and also help you establish goals that are relevant to you when we get to the next step. By doing the core values exercise you will discover in what areas of your life are you already living in congruence with your values and where you still are out of alignment.

For example, if you identify family as your main value, why are you spending that much time at work? If freedom is so important to you, why aren’t you exercising your free will? 

Start by doing this exercise to help you identify your core values.

By doing this exercise I identified freedom as my number one value. And it lead me to all sorts of questions on why am I prioritizing safety and comfort when doing the everyday choices in my life. It helped me gain a new understanding and I could start making choices that are more aligned with my core values in the future. 

This exercise has impacted my life and if you do it and spend some time thinking about your values and how you live your life, it will impact your life as well.

4. How to set goals?

For your goal-setting process to be more effective at helping you navigate your life, it can be helpful to break your goals into important life areas. The number and names of life areas you chose are arbitrary, as you may find in different books and materials but as long as they cover everything important to you, details don’t matter.

I will propose 7 main life areas from Achology (the Academy for modern applied psychology) framework, where I am gaining my coaching skills. 

Main life areas according to Achology are:

1: Social & Family Relationships

2: Career & Educational Aspirations

3: Money & Personal Finances

4: Health, Recreation & Leisure

5: Life’s Routine Responsibilities

6: Contribution & Giving Back

7: Mental, Emotional & Spiritual Life

I am attaching the Achology goal setting pdf workbook which goes into even more details on the goal-setting process if you would like to go even deeper. I would certainly encourage you to.

5. SMART Goals

Effective goals have a couple of characteristics. They are SMART which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

  • SPECIFIC. Write down exactly what you want to achieve. Be detailed and unambiguous. Don’t make your goal vague, so it can be interpreted in more than 1 way.
  • MEASURABLE. Connected with point number one. You have to be able to measure if you achieved your goal or not.
  • ACHIEVABLE. You have to be able to achieve it in the time period you set out to. Don’t make it too audacious or too simple. The goal has to stretch you and your skill and take you out of your comfort zone. Don’t shy away from an audacious goal that excites you.
  • RELEVANT. It has to have meaning for your life, otherwise, you won’t be motivated to pursue it. This connects well with your core values and the eulogy exercise. Only set goals that are connected to what really matters for you.
  • TIME-BOUND. You have to put a timeframe on your goals. We will go into different time-frames for our goals in the next chapter.

The last part of this workshop is creating the goal hierarchy.

6. Building out your goal hierarchy


Goal setting

Now you know how you want to be remembered, you know your core values, the main areas of your life and you know how to set effective goals.

It’s time to build out your goals step by step.

For each one of the areas of your life create:

  • Your life vision: 3 – 5 years 
  • Long-term goals: 1 – 3 years, 
  • Medium-term goals: 3 – 12 months
  • Short-term goals: 1 – 3 months 

Your life vision for that area is your overarching goal. An ideal outcome for your life. Write it down and use the SMART goal framework. Even if it’s long-term it has to have all the characteristics of smart goals in play. 3 – 5 years is a good timeframe to have in mind so you keep it in your sight at all times.

After you have done that for each life area, the next steps in the process just follow your vision. Ask yourself “What long-term goals do I have to achieve in the next 1 – 3 years to achieve my life vision?” These are your long-term goals. 

And just continue with medium goals: What do I have to achieve in the next 3 – 12 months so that I can achieve my long-term goals? 

What do I have to achieve in the next 1-3 months so that I can achieve my medium-term goals?

This hierarchical process will give you a thorough understanding of the steps you need to take in your life to live an amazing life based on your values, based on what really matters to you.

If you have never done a process like this, I believe it can actually be life-changing.

Give yourself this gift of clarity.

You have all the tools you need at your disposal. And you have me as well for any questions 😉

Hope you find this workshop useful!

All the best!


Images credit: achology.com

Goal setting workbook

Download the goal-setting workbook by clicking here:

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