Have you ever caught yourself setting goal after goal with little to no success in achieving any of them?You start a new goal, and you’re excited, almost over the moon, but within a few days that energy has diminished, and you throw in the towel? On a recent Success Talks podcast I listened to, the Success staff played an archived clip from Jim Rohn where he addressed, as he called it, “The Simple Art of Goal Setting.” His method of goal setting is one that he learned from his mentor, John Earl Shoaff, at the early age of 25 and it goes something like this:
- Decide what you want.
- Write it down. Make a list.
- Keep the old lists.
- Check things off your list.
1. Decide What You Want…and Why.For many people, myself included, a goal is some significant thing you want to achieve. It could be getting the big promotion that lands you in the corner office, becoming debt-free, reading 24 books in a year, or heck, it could even be getting down to 4% body fat for a bodybuilding competition. But what I didn’t realize for the longest time is: there are small goals too. For example, small goals could be things like expressing an idea in the weekly staff meeting, monitoring your budget carefully, reading for 30 minutes per day, or hitting the gym 2-3 times each week.
Define Your “Why”But to take Jim’s first step a little further, I recommend deciding your “why.” Deciding your “why” means that you list the reasons that you want to achieve your goal. For example, do you want a big promotion at work because you’re chasing more money? Or, are you hoping to acquire accolades and bragging rights? Or are you looking to provide a better life for your family? Defining your “why” is going to help you stay focused on your goal, and achieving it when it starts to get complicated or seemingly impossible.
Related: The Power of Finding Your Why
2. Write it Down. Make a List.This step is pretty straightforward and simple: write down all your goals. But first, let’s take a look at what is the best way to do this. I have tried using Evernote, Google Docs, and other apps, but I have found that keeping Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner with me is the best way to stay on top of my thoughts, goals, to-dos, and more. I take this notebook almost everywhere, and I document random thoughts I have, inspiring quotes from The Tim Ferris Show, my to-do list, and even ideas for new blog posts. Don’t feel like carrying around a notebook? Consider this: Mary Morrissey wrote an article called “The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams” on the Huffington Post back in 2016. In it, she highlights a study performed by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California. Dr. Matthews found that “you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis.” That’s powerful! Give it a try and watch it change your life. I know it did mine.
3. Keep the Old ListsIf you start using a notebook, this one is easy: keep all your old notebooks and never tear out a page or scribble things out. As you progress through the pages and from notebook to notebook, your goals will evolve and change. You will begin to achieve some of your goals while you may drop and disregard others. That’s okay! As you change and grow, so will your priorities. The key here is to keep documenting your goals and look back on your old goals from time to time. If you decide to stop working towards a goal, then evaluate the reason why. Did you drop it because it got difficult? Did you take your eye off the ball and forget about it? Or, did you decide you just had more important priorities right now? If it got hard, break it down into smaller goals and try again. If you forgot about the goal, dust off your notebook and document your progress every day to stay on track. If you changed your priorities, that’s great! Just stay focused on what’s most important to you.
Related: Goal Hacking: 5 Tips for Achieving Your Goals