In just about every self-development book you’ll find the importance of goal setting mentioned at least once. But if you’ve tried the processes you quickly find that what you write down rarely materializes in form. So, you go on to seek out another self-development book to find a slightly varied method and hope it works.
Most goal setting books out here are built around a model of the world that focuses on ‘doing things’ so that you can ‘have things’.
You write down either: I want to build a business so that you can have $1million net per annum or you write, ‘I want to meet a new partner and have an incredible relationship” or ‘I go to the gym 3 times a week and have a healthy body with energy and vitality’ These are all examples of ‘doings’ so you can ‘have things’.
But have you ever noticed the incredible sense of uncertainty that arises in your body when you write down a ‘big hairy audacious goal?’
The experience can leave your heart racing, stomach churning or throat closing-up in addition to the onset of a headaches or the build-up of anger shortly after the results fail to materialize or you stop ‘the doing’.
I would imagine that if you have tried goal setting and it didn’t work for you it’s probably something you now dread or have just flat out given up on.
For the few that are still writing goals you may find yourself in the ‘hopeful’ bucket, where you ‘just hope this works out this time’.
Whatever category you find yourself in this article will give you some up to date tools to start setting goals in a new way that brings about the REAL results you want.
After many years of frustration, I pretty much refused to write down goals. I saw it as a painful reminder of the reality that I haven’t got to where I want to be.
In fact the very act of writing a goal is acknowledging to your mind that you are “missing something” and are “fundamentally inadequate”.
Isn’t that the premise of traditional goal setting? The whole goal setting process reinforced the gap between where I am and where I wanted to be.
The clearer written out the goal the clearer I become about what I don’t presently do or have in my life.
The ultimate outcome for me was a start feeling of being a lowly piece of shit.
With that out of the way, I finally came across a process generated a big ‘aha’ moment that changed everything .. forever. (Insert dramatic music).
While reading a book called: The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani – a book I very much recommend he suggested a new process for goal setting.
Before you get to the process let better understand how our minds work so the process makes a bit more sense later.
When you sit down to write down your goals you are normally looking to change a circumstance in your life.
When most of us sit down and ask ourselves what we want for the following year, it is usually to change something that we perceive is inadequate ‘out there’ in the world or ‘in here’ inside our bodies or minds.
The process goes something like this:
I want to be have more wealth > then I can have a nice house > then I can raise a good family > have friends around > can get more done > have some private space > think clearly > then retire and relax and be happy.
It looks like this: I want to do > have > feel / experience or I want have > do > feel/ experience
Here in lies the most delicate and beautiful discovery that most of us overlook. The entire paradigm is built around a rule that is invisible to us like a process running on the background of our computers:
“the rule that you need to do something or have something to feel / experience what you want.
This is the model around which our entire culture is built. Everyone around you reinforces this rule and belief that you need to do and have before you can feel and experience.
Indeed most of our goals are all based around this seemingly logical, but as you’ll soon discover, fatally flawed premise and model.
The rule may sound like this: “You can’t just be happy, you new-age lazy sack of shit, go work for 40 years buy investment properties and then you can finally relaxed and be happy.”
There is a lot of money in making you believe that you are not enough and you do not have what you need to be experience beauty in your life. Just about every industry is built around some insecurity that you need to ‘our product’ to ‘feel better’. Look around. You and I are both suckers in this paradigm.
It’s so clear but it’s so insidious because it creeps into our thinking in such a dramatic way that it blocks our ability to see life from any other perspective.
The great sages have all spoken of the illusion of past and future and importance of joy now.
Here is the bottom line: When your experience of life is predicated on an external object being present or not present, and operate from a model where you need the external world to change before your internal experience does, your life will pretty much feel like it is permanently out of control.
Months after your goal setting you’ll wake up look around you’ll say to yourself: “I haven’t made a million dollars yet, that house is still just as far as it was yesterday, my partners an asshole and I just got another 2 inches on my ass” so therefore I’m in a shit mood.
After cleaning up your room you’ll find a handwritten piece of paper (or electronic journal entry) with your goals on it and just go on back to your day-to-day routine of survival.
So what’s the alternative?
Well luckily there is an alternative and it’s quiet profound and yet simple.
Most of the goals that you have been setting throughout your life have been means goals.
A Means Goal is something that you need to get ‘in order to’ experience ‘something else’.
An End Goal is something that in and of itself a worthy goal.
I want to build a business/ make a million dollars/ meet the love of my life/ spend more time with your partner / go to gym more/ diet etc are all Means Goals.
Why? Because these are all IN ORDER TO goals.
Business/ Money / Meeting someone/ Spending time are all things that you want so you can FEEL A CERTAIN WAY and EXPERIENCE SOMETHING.
- Money and business = freedom and joy
- Better relationship = connection and being appreciated
- Gym / diet = vitality, energy and aliveness
When you set Means Goals – you instantly put it outside of your control.
For example. If you don’t go to gym and stop fulfilling on your goal you feel like a failure and in your mind fractionate your ability to have vitality, energy and aliveness.
The trick is to stop setting means goals and set the end goals you desire.
You make the experience/ feeling you desire your goal.
This way your life is entirely inside your control and no one can take it away from you.
Now I know what you’re thinking, but I NEED more money and I NEED to lose weight and I NEED to get a relationship or fix it.
Just remember you can’t do any of those things unless you can control your mood and experience of life.
How can you make more money if you feel like poor, unworthy and desperate?
How can you lose weight if you feel fat, ugly, hungry, undeserving?
How can you create or find a beautiful relationship if you feel frustrated, angry, misunderstood, ungrateful?
The very reason you’ve failed at setting goals you actually follow through on is because your MOOD and STATE gets in the way and you just flat out say to yourself ‘this is too hard’ fuck it. I’m too BUSY and OVERWHELMED or TIRED to go to gym. Or I’m BROKE and can’t afford to go to that seminar or start that business, I need to just PAY THIS FUCKING MORTGAGE.
The point is, if you can’t regulate your STATE OF MIND you are never going to fulfil anything that is meaningful for you.
By the way, the irony is that the reason you want all the STUFF in life “out there” is so you can “FEEL” better. So we’re going to flip the process on its head so you get the “EXPERIENCE OF LIFE” you truly desire while you get the “STUFF” to make life cooler.
Let’s get started.
This process is in written about by Vishen Lakhiani in his recent book The Extraordinary Mind. It is a series of questions that you will write down for your top 3 to 5 goals.
- Write down your goal at the top of a piece of paper/ computer
- If I achieved this, I would be able to do?
- And when I achieve that I’ll feel?
- So, what is the real objective behind this goal?
- Is this pathway (goal) the best way to achieve this objective?
- Is the original goal enough to achieve this objective?
- Is there a better pathway to achieve this?
Get started now and do the work. Then come back and continue reading.
What did you discover?
Can you see that some of your goals were not necessarily the best pathway to achieve what you wanted?
Can you see that really what you are chasing can be put into a few different buckets of ‘better experiences’ or ‘better feelings/ states’?
When you discover that what you are really after is not the ‘external thing’ but rather the ‘internal experience of what you think that thing will bring you or those you love’ you begin to take total control over your life.
This process is an incredibly powerful method to start changing the whole definition of what a goal is.
Rather than setting goals based on ‘do’s’ and ‘have’s’ which are out of your immediate control or subject to many other variables, it is wiser to set goals that govern your experience of life.
When I started this process and wrote down my first goal: To experience joy, beauty and love in each moment of my life (my end goal), I experienced a moment of almost sadness and relief combined. It was the experience of a massive weight being lifted off of my shoulders.
I knew that I could never fully control the process of getting to $10 million dollars within 2 years but I can 100% discover ways to change how I feel, and using quality questions change my state and find ‘joy beauty and love in each moment’.
From that point as Visen talks about in his book, I found myself more alive and empowered knowing that I had begun regaining full agency over my EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. IT was a step towards becoming what he calls UNFUCKABLEWITH.
Where the universe around you, the circumstances, the ups and downs, none of it can fuck with you because your rules and goals for life are entirely within your control.