I consider my mentors and role models on goalsetting and achievement some of the best minds in the industry of personal and professional development, to name a few famous ones:
In this post, I construct a tripartite framework that incorporates what I have learned from these people and others. The three prongs of the framework are: dreams and goals; values and beliefs; action and non-action.
Dreams and Goals
Establishing a dreams list means stepping outside the box of the currently perceived reality. If you were in a movie, in which you wrote the script, you would be unaffected by the current reality. This is the mindset from which dreams are established and from which you can create a set of dreams for your life. Stepping into the state of understanding that nothing is impossible, that ‘the world’s your oyster’ and that even seemingly impossible goals can become not only possible but real is crucial before beginning the process of identifying and documenting your dreams.
You don’t need evidence for these statements to be true, however, you can easily find stories of people who were able to make their dreams come true, whether business-people, people who were affected by very serious illness or afflicting life circumstances, athletes or showbusiness stars etc. So the evidence is there that achieving one’s dreams is not only possible, but given that we all have certain mental, physical, spiritual and emotional resources at the very least, can be made increasingly probable. However, you do not even need to believe that a dream could come true for you. It is important to understand that the ‘how’ is not yet important and does not need to be in place. First things first – identify the dream – let doubts and objections which arise, take care of themselves. Am I making sense? …if so, good!
The point being made is that in creating a dreamlist, the mind is open enough to accept, even for the few moments that the list is being written, that there are no obstacles, for the purposes of the exercise: age, fear, resources, background, not knowing the ‘how’ etc etc are discarded and left aside during the exercise of identifying dreams. Dreams are defined here as the big, often seemingly impossible objectives for life that might seem way off into the future. Here are a list of questions that can be used to capture the imagination and draw out your dreams:
What do you want to create or do?
What do you want to own?
What do you want to create or contribute?
What do you want to be?
What would be perfect in your ultimate future?
Goals, objectives or outcomes are an extension of the dreams list. In general, goals might have a potential reasonable timeframe in your mind that is more reasonably short, whether 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year or a few years. Goals might seem more ‘realistic’, but they do NOT have to be. When writing your goals, here are 5 suggestions that tend to be the ‘bread-and-butter’ of successful goal setting as taught by many of the experts in the processes. I’ll add some jam, but I won’t go into the reason why these rules are suggested at this time. I will teach this to you in 5 sections, each building on the next. The first 3 are the basics, the second two are intermediate techniques and less well known.
1. Write your goals in the present tense.
2. Write your goals using a pronoun.
3. Write your goals in the positive.
4. Write your goals using 2nd and 3rd person and your name (affirmations)
5. Read your goals out loud, and as you do, practise holding the thought in mind that this is achievable for you, you can do it. You can record your goals and listen to the recording regularly.
Further to this, write your goals regularly – perhaps choose the top 3 or 5 and write them daily, and read your goals to yourself, preferably twice daily (on waking and before bedtime, for instance).
Implementing 1 – examples
Goal – to become a goalkeeper in my local football team – INCORRECTLY FORMULATED GOAL
I AM THE GOALKEEPER IN WINNERSVILLE SOCCER CLUB
– note how the goal is now phrased in the present tense.
Additional tip: you can add a date such as ‘on or before 11 April 2031’ to any of the goals (or dreams) either when you write them or later on.
Goal – to be the top performing test-taker in my class – INCORRECTLY FORMULATED GOAL
I AM THE TOP PERFORMING TEST-TAKER IN MY CLASS
– note how the goal is not only in the present tense, it contains the personal pronoun “I”
Goal – I do not worry any more – INCORRECTLY FORMULATED GOAL
I AM A POSITIVE, SERENE AND HAPPY PERSON AT ALL TIMES
– note how the goal is now phrased in the positive, eliminating the negative ‘worry’ from the equation. Note also how the ‘at all times’ may bring up resistance as being ‘unrealistic’, ‘impossible’ and perhaps even undesirable – perhaps you have become so attached to worry or convinced that it has hidden benefits or payoffs, that your mind isn’t ready for you to let it go completely… nevertheless, for some people, not only do they have this goal, they have achieved it.
Now you have learned how to properly formulate a goal statement, you can add a lot of power to it in the following three ways. First, you can add your name to the formulation. Second, you can write it in the 2nd person pronoun as well as the 1st person pronoun. Third, you can write it in the 3rd person pronoun as well, as follows. NB. I learned this technique from affirmations expert and goal setter, Sondra Ray who wrote: I Deserve Love and also Rebirthing.
Taking the incorrectly specified goal: to not be poor in the future
Let’s reframe it using the 4 implementations above:
I, SAM, AM A MILLIONAIRE BY THE TIME I AM 40 YEARS OLD, EASILY AND JOYOUSLY
YOU, SAM, ARE A MILLIONAIRE BY THE TIME YOU ARE 40 YEARS OLD, EASILY AND JOYOUSLY
HE, SAM, IS A MILLIONAIRE, BY THE TIME HE IS 40 YEARS OLD, EASILY AND JOYOUSLY
NB. Goals framed in this way can be useful for the practice of affirmations, writing the goal out at least 5 times each, for each pronoun, and by the side of each writing out, noting any feelings, thoughts or emotions that arise bring awareness. Letting go of these thoughts, feelings/emotions – positive or negative – will bring you to who you really are and also dramatically reduce the time involved to reach the goals. Simply practicing the writing of the affirmations and the noticing of what arises as you ‘write your lines’ can of itself be both therapeutic and transformative.
5 speaks for itself – get a bound notebook, spiral pad or journal or writing pad for this purpose.
Additional tip – using colored pens and creating patterns or pictures with them around your written goal statements, or writing the goals themselves in different colours is another tool you can use. We will go into the technique of dreamboard creation in another post.
Values and beliefs
Your values are what are important to you. Your beliefs are what you believe to be true. Examples of values are: family, money, peace of mind, truth, love, happiness, empowerment, fulfillment. Examples of beliefs are: people are generally good and supportive when you offer them the same; I am a good person; Politicians are all liars; the world is a harsh place; the universe is essentially supporting life, and that includes me… and so on and so forth.
To elicit your values, you can ask the question:
What is important to me about … X?
Where X is your goal, or its any other part of life, like family, my habits, the course I am taking, my career, sex, etc etc.
Once you come up with perhaps a word or phrase, or a few notes (Y), you ask the question again:
What is important to me about Y?
Keep doing this, normally about 4-5 times is sufficient for each area, to identify your CORE VALUE.
Identify as few as 2 and as many as 6 core values that are your most important values in life. For each goal and dream, cross-check that they are aligned with your values, if not, reword or restructure the goal so that they are values-aligned. Crucially, do this with your dreams as well! It is very important that your values and goals are aligned.
Beliefs absolutely define how your experience life. They are CREATIVE because they tell you what to focus on and essential WHAT THE LAWS ARE IN THE UNIVERSE YOU EXPERIENCE. When either your VALUES or your BELIEFS are challenged – i.e. the world, a person, or a thing does not conform to your beliefs and values, you may experience a conflict pain.
It is important to NURTURE positive, empowering beliefs, and to remove and reframe negative, disempowering beliefs. We will look at this in a later post. For now, identify 2-3 empowering beliefs that could support either your dreams or goals such as:
I HAVE EVIDENCE OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THIS AREA, SO I COULD ALSO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THAT AREA – I CAN DO IT
I ALREADY HAVE THE RESOURCES AND SOME OF THE KNOWLEDGE – THE GLASS IS ALREADY OVER HALF FULL
PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY KIND AND SUPPORTIVE, MOST OF THE TIME
Notice how beliefs aren’t ‘true’ per se, but they provide a framework for how our current map of reality is understood consciously. Importantly, when we communicate what we believe or desire to believe to our unconscious or subconscious mind, that part of you is responsive and able to adopt the new belief, or place greater focus on the empowering belief. The same goes for disempowering beliefs, but you can make the decisions here and decide to change those and replace them with more positive and empowering beliefs. The way to remove disempowering beliefs from your system, is to question and challenge them, to ‘catch the thought’ and reason towards something more truthful, or in the case where you believe the disempowering belief strongly, and it is tough to shift, asking questions to get leverage. As Tony Robbins taught in ‘Awaken the Giant Within’:
What’s absurd about this belief?
What is continuing to believe this going to cost me in terms of my:
emotions and mental health?
physically health and well-being?
relationships with myself and others?
When you fully realise and actually feel the pain of what holding on to the disempowering belief has done to you, is doing to you and will do to you in future – honestly! – you may find making the decision to let it go and work on developing a better conviction and habitual way of thinking, much easier…
What could I believe instead of this?
What consequences will this have on my:
emotions and mental health?
physically health and well-being?
relationships with myself and others?
How will that make me fele?
What kind of person am I going to become now I have adopted this new belief?
We can use a similar process to re-order the priority sequence or even the structure and content of the values we identified, if our values are conflicting with our goals. Are you beginning to see how this aspect of the triad is both very important, but also, extremely powerful?
Action and non-action
High performance individuals work towards achieving their goals, and have the energy to try again and again. Make an action plan to achieve your goals. The best technique to do this that I have found is working backwards. From the point of having already achieved your goal, what would be the prior action you would have taken? And prior to that? And prior to that? Until you get back to present time. This is a highly effective strategy for engaging your imagination and stretching the possibilities. It is not important you know exactly how you will reach your goal. It is important that you delineate such a plan so at least you have some idea of some of the actions you may be taking en route. Flexibility is also key. Action that comes fairly naturally and spontaneously is always far better than ‘driving the lorry uphill with the breaks on’.
This is the ‘growth’ part of the process. Letting go (or releasing), relaxing, hypnosis, meditation, sprirituality, resting, visualising, and even simply forgetting about your goals are all a part of what I call the ‘non-action’ part of the process of goalsetting and achievement. Learning to trust and also to understand that the power residing within and without you – is ENOUGH is a skill in itself. Non-action is not the same as laziness. It is ALLOWING and WELCOMING, and appreciating the principle that the Chinese call ‘wu-wei’ and some Buddhists term ‘non-beingness’, others, like Eckhart Tolle for example, simply ‘Being’, or one of my personal favourite ‘Masters’, Lester Levenson, ‘beingness’ or ‘Self’ with a capital S.
So there we have a concise and of course, not fully complete mini-goals workshop framework in less than 2220 words and we’ll conclude right here because all the information you need to get started is above.