How to Be Better at Setting Goals

I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want to be rich, drink mojitos on the beach, have a sexy body, and probably be a famous actor, singer, writer, or whatever that’s on your mind. As long as others envy you.

Nowadays everyone wants to be rich and famous. Have a gazillion followers online and do as little as possible to maintain this empire.

But who doesn’t want that, right?

Wanting something is easy. You just close your eyes and you imagine this magnificent place where half-naked girls massage your body.

If you ask a normal guy on the street “what’s your goal in life?” or “what’s your ultimate meaning?” He’ll probably say that he wants to be rich, happy, good-looking, have a beautiful spouse, and do work he enjoys.

Sounds familiar?

Probably you have the same “goals”.

In reality, however, your desire to be rich, strong, smart, or have a house on the beach doesn’t mean anything in particular.

These are just words in the air.

Dreams that are unlikely to happen in reality. Unless you actually do something about it.

Wait, that’s worth repeating:

Dreams that are unlikely to happen in reality. Unless you actually do something about it.

As you probably already figured it out, I’m going to show you how to be better at setting goals and why you now suck at doing this – setting goals I mean.

Why Setting Goals Is Important?

To be honest, I don’t remember somebody teaching me in school, or in college, about goals and why it’s crucial to have them. Probably my schools sucked.

I learned about goals and their importance through books and articles online.

This term, goal setting, sounds so corporate though.

When you read about setting goals you most probably imagine this big firm where CEOs and lawyers are standing in a room, discussing things and swapping papers.

But setting targets and objectives is not reserved for online stores or large organizations only. It’s something everyone should consider doing for two main reasons:

1. Without Goals We Will Be Lost

I’m sure you heard the expression: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”1

But what does this really means?

Let’s see:

Let’s say you’re at the airport and you’re waiting for your flight. The voice from the radio calls all passengers to board flight A734 for London. You get on board, you sit and you patiently wait for the liftoff.

Even if you’re afraid of flying you’re feeling kind of excited. You know exactly where you’re going and you know what you’ll be doing there: Whether you’ll be visiting London for a trip or a business meeting, you’re surely going there for a reason. Otherwise, you won’t be on this plane, sitting in a cabin full of strangers, right? Unless something is really, really wrong with you.

So, the number one reason setting goals is really important it’s because if you don’t do it you will be simply sitting around going nowhere. Like a rock near a river. You’ll be watching the view passively but you won’t really enjoy life to the fullest.

Don’t be a rock.

2. You Get To Experience Life

That’s reason number two.

When you set an objective and you actually start working towards this goal, you get to really experience this thing called life.

The humans who inhabited the world we live in today had two main goals in their lives before: survive and replicate. Everything they did was towards these two things. They fought beasts, fought each other, build shelters, and traveled long distances to find food.

Nowadays the survival part we take for granted. We don’t wake up “hoping we won’t die,” or thinking about the following: “Today I have to first find food and make sure I have shelter before sunrise”. It’s fairly easy to have something to eat and have a roof above your head.2

Today, you’re most probably distracted from other insignificant things: social media, modern television, fashion, video games, gossip.

But think about it, do these things actually let you experience life?

Do you really think that sitting around, watching, and reading short messages on Twitter will make you feel good, help you level up your skills, improve your thinking, and actually make a difference in your life?

Sure, they are funny and all, but doing this for a number of years? Really?

The second reason to have personal goals is that you’ll get to actually live. Experience life.

When you’re striving for something, you’ll fight, bleed, you’ll go places, you’ll talk with people, engage with them, cry, you’ll feel hurt, bad, alone, defeated. But that’s life. There isn’t only happiness and joy. There is balance in the universe. As there are sunny days, there are also days when rain is pouring like a motherfucker.

But if your goals really matter to you, you’ll accept the pain. You’ll handle the rain. Patch your woods and continue.

Why People Suck At Setting Goals?

Even though there are thousands of articles, books, videos about setting goals you, me, and the majority of the human population still suck at this exercise.

There are several reasons for that:

We Set These Unrealistic Goals

We’re experts in setting goals that suck.

We wake up and we decide that, as of now on, we’ll be healthy, strong, and we’ll lose weight in just a few days.3 We purchase the “ultimate” training program online and we wait. After a few days, we call asking for a refund because it’s not working. For some reason, we’re still fat.

The goals for being happy, rich, in the perfect relationship are so cliche. Nevertheless, everyone wants these things.

Why they are unrealistic?

Because being happy, for instance, it’s virtually impossible. You can’t be happy 100% of your time on this earth.

There are times when you’ll have, need to be angry or mad.

For example, if someone is trying to rob you, he is threatening you with a knife, do you really think that smiling will help? At this moment you want to enter beast mode. To search deep inside your mind and find what your Kung Fu teacher thought you when you were 7 years old, grab the knife and kick this guy’s ass.

The same thing with relationships. Do you really think that there is a perfect relationship or a perfect partner? Like the ones we see in the movies?

Newsflash, movies aren’t real life.

We all lack certain qualities. But rather than focusing on our partner’s negative sides, embrace his positives.

We Don’t Say When We’re Going to Achieve Our Goals

As mentioned, it’s easy to say stuff that we want from life. But even if we really start working towards our goals and ambitions, we don’t really put a time frame to achieve something.

If you want to start a company and become an independent person who is doing his thing, ask yourself when you’re going to actually do that?

Are you going to start today? Tomorrow? The following month?

If you’re already working towards your goal, what’s inside your to-do list for tomorrow?

We brag about our ambitions but do you make time for these goals above all else? Do you organize your day around accomplishing them? Or you only work when you have the time?

We Don’t Really Get What’s Behind Goals

Let say you want to eat pizza. That’s your goal for now. You’re hungry and you want to eat pizza. Simple as that. There are several ways to deliver pizza inside your mouth: Order online or over the phone; Drive to the nearest pizza place; Tell your boyfriend that you’re hungry and if he doesn’t get you a pizza in the next 20 minutes you’re done.

If pizza is your goal, then the other actions we mentioned are all possible ways that will help us achieve our goal. That’s the needed sequence: you grab your phone > find the number > call > have a conversation with someone > wait > get up to grab your pizza from your doorstep.

We do that constantly but we never think about it when we set goals. We say “I want to be rich” but we don’t really think about the process behind the goal.

  • How are you going to get rich?
  • How rich you want to become? A person with 21,5 million in his bank account or 1 million?

You need to be really specific. To get down to the last step in order to understand how you’re going to achieve what you want.

But we don’t do that. We shout out load our goals and we wait for something to happen. That’s why people play the lottery. Because they don’t want to do the actual work behind their goals.

How To Set Goals Like a Pro?

After we know why we suck at setting goals, let’s see how we can become better:

Realize That There Will Be Suffering Involved

As mentioned, setting the actual goal is easy. You just need to know what you really want. Whether this will be saving enough money to buy a house, completing a project, or something bigger – finding your meaning, purpose. Yes, you can write it down like everyone else on the internet is saying, but the first step will be to actually understand, in your mind, with your body and bones, that you will suffer along the way. You need to first be prepared, mentally, physically, for all the shit that’s involved in accomplishing a goal.

If you want to lose weight and become muscular, for example, you need to go to the guy and train hard.

If you want to write a book you need to write, despite your desire or the lack of it at the current moment. Writing will be the equivalent of going to the gym.

Put simply, a goal worth pursuing will be hard to accomplish. It will take time, sweat, tears, napkins, long hours. You need to really understand this.

Otherwise, there is no point. You can write your fancy idea on your $50 notebook but if you don’t really understand that it will be hard. Like, really, really, really hard, plus it will take time, there is no point in starting in the first place.

Better Than SMART Goals

There is this thing called SMART goals. Don’t worry, it’s not only for smart people. We can also benefit from it.

The term SMART goals stands for: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; and Time-bound goals.

I personally think that this is only complicating things.

When you set goals you can follow the ASS technique.4 This abbreviation is a combination of these 3 things:

  • Achievable: What you want to create should be something which you can actually accomplish. Take into consideration your personality. The place you live in. The people you know. Your own skills. If you’re living in Africa and you want to become a professional skier, it’s best to reconsider your goals.
  • Superindividual5: We plan. Dream. Write our goals and we map our possible future but a lot of times we end up wanting stuff other people want. We see a couple of fancy posts on Instagram and we think that we should also buy a new house, start a business, or go live in the mountains. Maybe you like your job. Maybe you’re not an entrepreneur. Don’t pursue something only because other people are doing so. Set goals that resonate with your own persona. Make your goals superindividual. This is like individual goals on steroids.
  • Set time: When you know what you’re going to do, say when you’re going to do it. Otherwise, you’re only talking shit. When are you going to start? When are you planning to finish? The end date might not be met but the idea here is to install this thought on the back of your head that will whisper to you: “Get up. Write. You have a deadline!”

Deconstruct Your Goal

So you set this super big goal that will transform your life, will make you happy, and put a smile on your face that will stay there 24/7/365, right?

How do you feel when you look at the goal?

  • You finally know what are you going to do?
  • You feel like the light inside the tunnel is getting closer?
  • You feel like you finally found your true meaning?
  • Or, you’re scared as fuck.

Most probably the last.

If the hardest thing you do in your leisure time, so far, is to order a pizza and go to the toilet when you had too many chips and soda, you’ll most probably be terrified from what you’ve written as a goal.

“How the fuck I’m going to achieve that?”

That’s exactly what you’re thinking right now. That’s also exactly the moment the majority of the people quiet. They don’t believe what they have as a goal is achievable.

So do not look at your goal as this big chunk of work:

This is probably how you imagine your goal: Big, scary, impossible to complete.

This goal of yours is actually a combination of simple, smaller tasks, that are much more simple to execute:

In reality, your big goal is a combination of smaller tasks.

You need to go to the gym, eat healthily, write 500 words a day, get up early… Such type of activities.

Once you know all the small tasks, the next step will be to align them in the right order: First, get up at 06:00 AM. Second, go to the GYM. Third…

Once you figure out the small tasks, you need to align them in the right order.

Losing 30 pounds and getting fit sounds scary. But going twice a week to the gym is something that anyone can do.

Where to Go From Here?

Schedule an appointment with yourself. Now, in a day, tomorrow. The sooner the better.

The agenda for the meeting?

What are your goals and what’s your action plan to achieve them?

Write down on a piece of paper your big juicy goal. Next, deconstruct your goal. What’s involved?

Finally, write simple tasks for every day of the week that are easily achievable.

Some Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, it really comes down to your willingness to change your beliefs (what to think about), change your daily actions, and change your bad habits – with good ones.

What you write, say, post on social media won’t matter if you’re not up for the challenge.

Every goddamn goal will require work. And your ability to keep going no matter the difficulties is the only thing that will get you to where you want to be.

A better way to look at goals is to chase process goals. You focus on the process – doing the work. Instead of the outcome – reaching an end destination.

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  1. It’s actually a quote from Lewis Carroll. The person who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
  2. Even though the last is true in general, there are unfortunately a lot of people who are still struggling to find shelter and food. Something we as a species need to fix.
  3. Millions of people are setting this goal at the beginning of the year: To finally get fit for the summer. A few months later, they forgot what they’ve said.
  4. I invented this myself and I intentionally composed the words to combine the word ASS. I thought it will be funny and stick with you.
  5. There is actually a word Superindividual
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