How Do I Set Goals That Work? Free Ebook

American Life CoachRather than having a lazy and relaxing holiday weekend like any good Life Coach would have advised.

I chose to slave over a hot keyboard making sure I got my latest ebook called ‘How Do I Set Goals That Work?’ finished in time to go out with my July newsletter.

And finish it I have.

Other than some minor editing and the design work it’s done and presuming you’re signed up for my newsletter it will be winging its way into your inbox very soon.

Today though, rather than risk divorce by continuing to work and writing a brand new blog post I thought I’d give you a sneak peak by publishing part of the first chapter.

Before that though, I just want to wish all you fine American people a very happy 4th July. Although let it be known, we never really wanted to win.

How Do I Set Goals That Work?

Before you pitch yourself head first into setting goals ask yourself one very simple question:

“What will this goal or goals give me?”

Do not ignore this stage because it’s absolutely crucial and can potentially save you a lot of time, money and misery further down the road.

If you don’t do this there is the chance that you will set a goal or goals you think are important to you, only to realize a few weeks, months, even years down the road, that they were not only not important, but possibly meaningless, or in some circumstances harmful to your well-being.

You may very well think that wont happen to you, and that is pretty much what everybody thinks, so let’s just conduct some due diligence and make 100% sure you’re on the right path.

What’s Your Biggest Goal?

For the sake of this exercise pick out your biggest goal and ask yourself what’s the main reason you want to achieve whatever it is?

Really think about the question deeply and I’d encourage you to write your answer or answers down right now so you can stare at them in the cold light of day.

When you have done that come back and we can take a closer look at what you have.

You have done it right? You’re not one of those types of people that can’t stand to do the exercises in self development books and then wonders why you never make any lasting change, are you?

Ok, so I’m trusting you realize a lifetime of happiness is worth investing a few minutes of having to think about this stuff deeply and you have done the work.

Now ready to chuckle at some less than stellar reasons for setting goals that I’m confident you would never adopt but some poor souls do.

Crap Reasons For Setting Goals

Answers that will ultimately lead you to feeling pissed off, empty and unfulfilled are:

  • I need more money
  • I have to make my parents (or anybody else for that matter) proud
  • I need a bigger house
  • I want to show people how successful I am
  • I’d like to be famous and have people adore me

The common denominator for all of the above is that they are extrinsically motivated.

In other words they are by and large out of alignment with your values because they come from the mindset that external things (including other people and their opinions) will make you happy.

They won’t, they’ll just hold you hostage to fortune and may you feel like you have no control over your life.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of those and really examine why they don’t just suck, but suck massive donkey balls.

“I need more money”

I have no idea if you really do need more money. If you’re house is in the process of being repossessed, you’ve lost your job and you’re literally struggling to put food on the table then I will concede you really do need more money.

However, if you’re raking in a 6-figure salary, drive a Mercedes, can pay all your bills each month without too much difficulty, but you’re pissed off because you can’t afford that third week sailing round the South Pacific, then you really don’t need any more money, you just want more.

Whatever your circumstances, I’d still not encourage you to set a goal of earning ‘X’ amount of cash without a lot of thought and really understanding what is behind that desire.

In my experience when people set financial goals and hit them, they are almost always left disappointed when the brief high of hitting the goal has worn off.

They normally then counter that disappointment by presuming the goal wasn’t significant enough and rushing to set another, even bigger one. Only to discover when they get there, that isn’t it either. And thus the process rolls on and on.

There is no amount of money that will make you happy. Trust me on this one because there is a mountain of scientific data to back me up.

Time and time again researchers have concluded that the link between money and happiness is (once you lift somebody out of poverty) small at lower levels of income and statistically meaningless with high earners.

In other words, the guy earning $10,000,000 per annum is statistically speaking no happier than the woman earning $250,000 per annum.

Most people get this, but they only get it for other people and rarely think it applies to them. Which is why they really do need that 20% pay rise that will make things hunky dory. At least for two or three months until their friend gets a pay rise.

“I have to make my parents (or anybody else for that matter) proud”

I have worked with a great deal of clients that were in jobs that they thought would make their parents proud, but made themselves miserable.

First and foremost, that is a ridiculous reason for choosing a career even in the unlikely event it’s true and your parents do want you to be unhappy.

Even if you do make your parents proud by adopting a career path that doesn’t feel right for you I feel sure they would be mortified if they realized they’d pushed you in a direction that made you unhappy.

The one thing your parents almost certainly want, is for you to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong, they may very well firmly believe that if you dedicate yourself to becoming a doctor, attorney or TV star you will be happy, but guess what?

Parents get stuff wrong……..all the time!

In fact I’ll go as far as to say by and large they suck at knowing what will make their kids happy in the long-term.

If you don’t know what you want to do for a living, I’m damn sure your parents don’t know.

Make sure your goals are yours, and yours alone. I realize you may want to make other people proud and there’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I want you to realize that desire in isolation could very well stifle your own happiness, so don’t do it!

If you have kids or plan on having kids, will you want them to head off on a career path that they think you want them to have. Or would you rather them follow their true passion and be happy?

Unless you’re a selfish bastard (you’re not by the way so don’t worry) that likes to live vicariously you’ll want the latter. So what makes you think your parents are any different?

“I need a bigger house”

No you don’t.

You may want a bigger house, but that is an altogether different proposition to thinking you need one. As long as you have a roof over your head you’re good to go and you really can manage without the 4th guest bedroom, underground garage and bowling alley.

Semantics out of the way, there is also another more prescient reason why aiming for a bigger house is a crap goal. It’s because of the process called adaptation.

Humans (and you are one of those so yes this does apply to you) are brilliant at adapting to their circumstances. That’s why we can live in the Arctic circle, on the equator, in the jungle in the desert and even in Cleveland.

It’s also why people that have no money can be as happy as Larry, and millionaires be miserable as Larry’s buddy that lost the winning lottery ticket shortly after punching his boss and resigning his highly paid job.

It’s also the reason why when you get that bigger house you will eventually adapt to living there and probably become restless and want an even bigger or better house.

“I want to show people how successful I am”

Hold on there Tiger, because on the whole people don’t really give a rats ass about you or your perceived successful levels. They’re way to concerned with getting on with their own lives than worrying about what you’re up to.

Any anyway, how many people do you want to recognize your success? Is it just your family, or your family and friends, or maybe your neighborhood, the town you live in or perhaps the entire world?

And how would you measure a goal like and know when you’d hit it?

Your definition of success is likely to be different to mine and whereas you may see yourself as being successful because you have ‘X’ amount of money in the bank or you have ‘Y’ title printed on your business card, I may disagree.

I may reasonably say that’s meaningless to me because I measure success by how happy and content somebody is, not how much material stuff and status they have.

How frustrating will that be when you can’t convince people that you epitomize success which effectively means you have missed your goal.

“I’d like to be famous and have people adore me”

What, like Charlie Sheen you mean?

Why do you think so many celebrities turn to cosmetic surgery, drugs and appearing on embarrassing reality shows when their careers start to slide, and sometimes even before that happens?

Pure unadulterated fear is the reason.

Fear of not being adored. Fear of not being wanted. Fear of not being thought of as attractive. Fear of failure (whatever failure is). Fear of moving on. Fear of life in general.

Do you want to be like that? Do you want to be constantly chasing something completely unattainable?

Not only is a goal like this not specific or measurable (more later), it’s also entirely extrinsic. It relies entirely on what other people think which is something you have at best very little influence over, and at worst, zero.

As you will see later when we look at the guts of goal setting, having a goal that is out of your control and determined by others is not only a recipe for misery, but it’s not even a real goal.

Wanting to be famous for the sake of fame is probably the most fucking ridiculous and misplaced desire on the face of the planet.

Seriously it is. Yet it’s one that millions of people forlornly cling on to. Don’t be one of them.

If you don’t believe me that so many people harbor this desire, check out the audition stages of American Idol and you’ll see what I mean as thousands of people are prepared to humiliate themselves just to get their 5 minutes of fame

If you’re feeling a tad crestfallen because you really, really, do want to be famous, ask yourself what are the reasons for that desire?

What will that fame give you that you don’t already have? Because a desire for fame for fames sake often emanates from a low self esteem with the person in question thinking that fame will validate them as a human being.

Sorry to be the bearer of more bad tidings, but as with money, fame will not make you happy, so switch off TMZ, put down People Magazine and concentrate on the job at hand because we have some work to do!


That’s your lot for today. If you want the ebook in its entirety you can sign up in the box below or the form in my left hand side bar. You will also be sent a copy of The 50 Greatest Motivational Quotes Of All Time – And Why?” by way of thanks.