A Closer Look at Goal Setting:Try a New Approach

(About a five minute read)“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” ~ Jim Rohn

Have you ever hit what Jim Rohn called “the day of disgust?”  I think we’ve all had one, maybe many, I don’t know. Rohn said it in a way I wish I could imitate, because when he said things, I always got the message. On the day of disgust, we have had it up to here. We’ve reached a “trigger point” when we absolutely, positively know “something’s got to give!” In his words, “it’s called life-changing day, it’s called enough is enough.”  Ever felt that way about something? I know I have.

Decision time. Time to change the direction of your life. What have we been conditioned to do on a day like that? Sit down and write a bunch of goals and set about to get skinny/rich/organized, boom, just like that! Because winners set goals, right? Well yes maybe, but there is so much more to it than that. In our system, Worthy Values First, we certainly encourage goal setting but that’s not the place we suggest you begin.

In the thirty two page summary of our system, we use the word “goals” forty two times which tells you we certainly believe goals are an essential part of the process! In the journey toward becoming what author Matthew Kelly calls “the-best-version-of-ourself”, it’s critically important to have goals. However, it’s got to begin with something deeper than that. It begins at a gut-check level. It begins with knowing your “why”. When you know the real reason for your desire, you’ve added the magic of purpose!

Even more important, it begins with a totally different focus than what we have been taught to believe. The best goal achievements happen backwards. Backwards? Yes, it begins by focusing on the process first, not on the outcome. And then, take a step, and then another.

“Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.” ~ Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

I follow some bloggers quite closely because what they write about makes so much sense and because our philosophy is so well aligned. With his permission, I’m grabbing some great points from one of my favorite wise guys, James Clear (www.jamesclear.com). In a recent post, he explained how we can achieve far better results when the focus is on our personal system, (meaning the steps it takes to get there), rather than on our goals.

JC-“For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?  I think you would.”

Here are a couple of more excerpts, two more great reasons to shift our focus.

JC- 1. Goals reduce your current happiness.

When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”

SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.

JC- 2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.

You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.

Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?

This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.

SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.

Read the article in its entirety here: http://jamesclear.com/goals-systems

My friend,  when you hit your day of disgust and know something absolutely, positively has to change, begin by getting to the heart of why you want to change. I used a personal example in our summary about the trigger event, my day of disgust, the day I decided I wanted to shed some excess pounds I’d accumulated over eight or ten years. On the day we found out we were going to have a grandchild, I made up my mind to get healthy and stay healthy so I could dance with that child at their wedding!  It may sound silly but that became my “why” and I focused on the steps I needed to take to get there!

Here is a quote I think  sums up our message pretty well.

If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.~Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

If you’ve ever had a day when enough was enough, we understand!  We’d love to hear from you about the issues you’re wrestling with and we’ll do all we can to provide you with practical solutions that are easy to adopt into your busy life. And, we always welcome your comments and suggestions!

Please consider subscribing so you don’t miss out on what just might be your personal ah-ha moment! When you do, you’ll receive the complete summary of our system as a pdf and you’ll also get a quick email notification twice a week when we have a new post. That’s all, we promise we won’t flood your inbox!

See you next time!



  • Grant Newbold

    Dear Blog Subscriber. Betty’s blog post about goals is powerful and well written. I have the saying that “goals are necessary but not sufficient.” Learning to focus on process rather than outcomes is a hard thing for us to do in this culture. In addition, Betty knows more about the people she quotes than anyone I have ever met and I have great respect for her over that. I have studied far fewer people but one that I greatly admire is Coach John Wooden. If you research his great success coaching basketball you will find that it is clearly based on focus on the process and not the outcomes. With his relentless focus on process he was able to accomplish great outcomes that may never be equaled in the sports world. Thanks again Betty. And thanks again Blog Subscriber for accessing our website. Talk to you again soon. Grant “Doc” Newbold.

  • Gail

    I love your emphasis on the process. — the mini steps (in my case) versus just writing down goals that you give up on quickly anyway. Great article!

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