Goal Setting

By Leo Gura - May 9, 2014 | 21 Comments

Every trick you need to know to set ridiculously powerful goals.

Video Transcript

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Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org, and in this video I’m going to tell you how to do goal setting.

Let’s talk about goal setting; how you go about setting powerful goals, and making sure those goals actually get realized. We’ve all been at that place, after New Year’s resolution time. A week after New Year’s and we set some sort of big, ambitious goal. Then we all know what happens: it falls through.

How do we turn that around? How do we make goals work not only for New Year’s time, but throughout the whole year? How do we make them practical and something that is actually changing our life, transforming our life for the better?

The Truth Is Not What It Seems

Personally, I’ve struggled with goals for a long time. That’s because they seem simple. They seem obvious, but this is deceptively so. You need to go in there and start to look into what actually makes goals work and what is not relevant, so that you can set proper, powerful goals to achieve your dreams.

That’s ultimately why we care about this. The goal setting process is important only for that reason. If you’re like me, then you have big dreams for your life. You know you’re capable of so much more than you’re currently realizing. What that means is that you have some sort of dream. You have some sort of vision.

You have some sort of grand castle in the sky, for maybe what your relationship could be like, or what your career could be like, how your business might be thriving, what your health might be like, that your lifestyle is like. All of those areas in your life — to achieve big things in those places, you need to have some sort of goals to get you there.

A dream is like a very big, overarching goal. Then you need to break that down into smaller chunks, so you can actually go and implement it. Let’s talk about how to do this and where people make mistakes with the goal setting process, because I’ve made these mistakes, and I still make these mistakes, even though I’ve studied this stuff. It’s just very obvious, it’s very easy to overlook this stuff. It is. Let’s take a look at that.

The first thing I’ve got to tell you, and this is a very important realization for you to have, is that right now, you probably don’t have any goals at all. This is the number one reason why people are not getting much more success in life, simply because they do not have goals.

You might be listening to this, and you might be into self-development. You might have already done some work on yourself. You might be saying “Well Leo, I know that’s a bad way to go about life, having no goals. I have some goals for my life.”

What I’m trying to tell you here is that even you, if you think you have goals right now, actually you don’t have any goals. Let’s clarify what this actually means. This will be a shocking revelation to you.

You Need Goals

The reason you’re not getting more success in your life is because you don’t have goals, but you think you do. In order to fix the problem, first you’ve got to realize that you have one. This is how we start unearthing all this. We discover there’s a problem here.

The problem is that you’re deceiving yourself about the goals that you’re setting. Why am I saying this? You might have some goals. Even someone who’s not into personal development will probably still say they have a couple of goals for their life.

Here’s my definition of what a goal is, relative to what other people think it is. Most people think a goal is a desire. A vague desire of wanting something, of wanting something better. Isn’t that what a goal is in popular culture? It’s just a desire, that’s what it is.

Like “Oh, you know, I wish I had a nicer house. I wish I had a better marriage. I wish my business was earning twice as much. I wish that I was a little bit healthier. I wish I lived in a different city. I wish I drove a better car. I wish I wasn’t so negative and critical all the time.”

These vague wishes — you’ve got to start somewhere, so that’s alright. You can start there. The problem is that people stay there. They stay there for years. They stay there their whole lives, and then they wonder why they don’t get what they want.

What A Real Goal Looks Like

That’s because what they had is a very vague, loosey-goosey desire for something. They don’t even know exactly what. It wasn’t a goal. Here’s what a real goal is. I would say there is about five points that constitute a proper and true goal. If you’re not hitting all five of these points, then you’ve got a desire. You don’t have a goal, and therefore it’s not going to work the way a goal should work.

It’s not going to get you as motivated as it needs to. It’s not going to get you taking action in a way you want to. It’s not going to inspire you. Ultimately, it’s not going to get realized. It’s just going to remain in fantasy land. Here are the five points:

Point number one is that a goal has to be specific. Very clear. Your goal has to be crystal clear. I’m going to go into more depth on each one of these point right now, I just want to throw all the points out there. Point number one is specific.

Point number two is your goal has to be big and compelling. Your goals have to be big. Point number three is that they have to be written down. It doesn’t count if it’s just in your head. It has to be written down.

Point number four is that you have to review your goal every single day. Like clockwork, review it every single day. Point number five is that your goal has to be aligned with your highest values. These are my five points for extremely effective and practical goal setting. If you hit all five of these points with your goal, you are going to be miles closer to actually realizing it.

Have A Specific Goal

Let’s go into each of these points a little bit and elaborate. Specific: most people goals fail right here. They’re simply not specific at all. You have some vague notion that you want to live somewhere else, but you haven’t specified what country, what city, what street, what neighbourhood, what the conditions are for a good place to live or a bad place to live.

Your chances of getting there are very slow. Or your business — maybe you want to start a new business, or you want to take your business and you want to improve the current one you’ve got. It’s just a vague desire. Maybe a vague desire to be earning a little bit more money, or to be a little bit more financially secure.

What does that mean? What does that really mean? How many extra dollars you need to be earning per day, per month, per year? You have to articulate that. You have to be very clear. What kind of business do you want? What do you want your business to be doing? What exactly? Not some vague, wishy-washy mission statement.

Something very concrete and exact and crystal clear. The more clear you can be about what you want, your chances of having it astronomically increase. This is probably the biggest place where most people fail.

I coach so many people. They come into coaching with me and, obviously they come in because they have a desire to improve their life in some way, but these desires are so vague. A lot of the work we do is on clarification. That alone right there, it might seem like it’s so simple.

“Well, clarification, is that so important?” you might wonder. It’s critically important. It’s so important you would be shocked, which is why a lot of times clients will come in and work with me for just a few sessions. We get so much clarity — they have more clarity about their life then they’ve had in decades.

Literally, people who have been running businesses, or having successful careers for decades come in and talk to me for a couple of hours — they have more clarity about what they’re doing in their life than they’ve had for years. It’s ridiculous.

Just because you start to dig into it, you start to ask the right questions, they start to see how little they really know what they want. Then it’s like “Oh, that’s why I’ve been stuck so long. Because I don’t know what I’m actually going after.” Specificity is very critical.

Have A Big Goal

The next point is size — the size of the goal. The goal has to be big. The best way to explain this is just with an example. Do you think it’s easier to lose five pounds and keep it off, or to lose fifty pounds and to keep it off? It might seem like losing five pounds would be easier, because what does it take to lose five pounds?

Maybe go to the gym consistently for a couple of weeks, diet a little bit and you can drop your five pounds. What does it take to lose fifty pounds? You’ve got to go to the gym for months. You’ve got to really work your ass off hard. You’ve got to really retrain your diet and your nutrition habits, and be very consistent with it for a long time. Then you can maybe lose fifty pounds.

But you know what? For most people, losing fifty pounds is actually going to be easier than losing five. That’s because the goal, the aspirational component of this goal, the vision of the goal, is more inspiring and more motivating when there’s something juicy to it, something juicy behind it.

When your goal is incremental, when it’s small, when it’s not very significant, then your brain is not going to get activated to actually start to make the changes that are necessary to create that goal and sustain it. That’s why so many people have these little yo-yo diets, where they lose five pounds, drop five pounds. They just keep doing that back and forth.

It’s very hard to motivate yourself to lose five pounds. You can’t register five pounds. No one’s going to see you being five pounds lighter. You’re not going to get any compliments. You’re not going to look much sexier by losing five pounds.

If you lose fifty pounds, you can imagine, all of a sudden: “Wow, that can really have a big effect on my life.” You can imagine “Hm, I’m going to look totally different in my photos. I’m going to be much more energetic. I’m going to have more options with the opposite sex, so my dating life is going to get better. My sex life is going to improve.”

All these factors start to come into your mind, and now you’re like “Wow, I can actually do this. Sure, it’s going to take some work, but you know what? I can see the outcome is going to be worth it.”

That’s what a big goal is, setting a big goal. So many people make the mistake of laying it up and saying “Well, I can’t lose fifty pounds.” or “Well, I can’t start a million dollar business.” or “Well, I’ll set some sort of goal, but I don’t want to set a big goal. If I set a big goal, then there’s a chance I won’t be able to realize it. What I’m going to do is set a little goal, with the hope I can realize that, because it’s not so ambitious.”

The problem with that strategy is that when you set a little goal, you run an even greater risk of not achieving it. You’re not even going to get activated to go and try it. It’s going to be so unmotivating to you. The biggest problem you have is complacency. It’s not over-ambition. Go ahead and shoot for being over-ambitious, rather than being under-ambitious with your goals.

Write It Down

The third point is: write the goal down. You have to write it down. If it’s just in your head, it’s too loose. It’s too vague, it’s still too vague, even if you’ve clarified it in your head. You’ve got to actually write it down. When you write it down, there’s something magical that happens. Your brain registers it in a different way, plus, it’s there on paper so you can always refer back to it.

Regular Reviewing

Which leads me to the fourth point. The fourth point was to review your goal on a daily basis. This is where people get it completely wrong. Almost nobody does this. I would say less than .001% of people who set goals will actually review them on a daily basis. This is the whole point of setting a goal.

You write it down and then you look at it. In the morning, in the evening, at lunchtime, whenever you get the chance. You have to look at it every single day, until it’s accomplished. You have to look at it, review it in your mind, so it’s always on the top of your mind. Otherwise you’re going to forget about it.

Just writing down some lofty goal and then stuffing it in your filing cabinet, and never looking at it again, how is it going to get realized? If it’s a very little goal, that might work. If it’s a goal that takes one day to accomplish, that might work.

If it’s a goal that takes a month or six months, or a year, or five years to accomplish — which are what most significant and meaningful goals are like — then you’re never going to accomplish that just by writing it down once and then stuffing it in a drawer somewhere. You have to read it again and again.

Align It With Your Values

The fifth point, the last point, is that your goal has to be aligned with your values. This is a bit of a deeper topic, that is hard to go into here because I just want to keep this focused on the goal setting process, but you have to know your values.

I have other videos that talk about value identification, discovering who you really are, what is most meaningful to you in life. When you discover that, when you know your life purpose and you know what your values are — I help people do that through coaching — but when you figure that out, and you know exactly what your top ten values are, then your goals need to be aligned with that.

Whatever your top values are, your goals have to match up with them. If they don’t, what’s going to happen — I found this a lot in my own life — is that you’re going to go out and start to do stuff, and you’re going to set various goals for yourself, and those goals aren’t going to be grounded in anything important.

They’re mostly going to come from just random ideas that you get from society. Maybe you see something on TV and all of a sudden you get some idea to go lose some weight. Or you see some friend of yours driving around in a nice car, and you get this idea of “I need a nice car too.”

You go out there and start doing this stuff, and it doesn’t fulfill you, and so the whole goal setting process breaks down because you see yourself creating these goals, but then you see the goals are not fulfilling you and so you stop setting goals.

The reason that’s happening is because you’re setting goals that are not aligned with what you really want in life. The reason that is is because you’re not clear on what you want in life. First clarify what you want, then start to create goals that are aligned with it. That’s going to be the last point that’s really critical.

Not All Goals Are Worthy

As a final wrap up here, before I leave you, what I want to mention as a last real point is that fact that your goals, no matter how good you get with this goal setting process, you have to be OK with the fact that not all of your goals are going to get accomplished.

That’s not a failure on your part, per se. It’s actually a good thing. You don’t want every single one of your goals to get accomplished. There’s a reason this goal setting process happens the way it does. It’s because if you could just instantly get all you wanted, it wouldn’t be actually healthy for your life.

What’s better is to go through this process and set goals, set lots of goals, create lists of goals and then, as you’re working towards them, you’re going to start to see “OK, so to accomplish this goal right here, I’m actually have to go and put in a lot of money, a lot of energy, a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of emotional labour. You know what? I realized that’s not actually something I want to do.”

Then you cross it off. You don’t need that goal anymore. That wasn’t a really genuine goal for you. Then you go onto the next goal. You say “This goal, it’s going to be — I can see how this is going to take months of work, and it’s going to be very difficult, and it’s going to maybe cost me some money. But you know what? Even if all those costs are analyzed, I still want that goal. That’s still important to me.”

You see, there, what happened was you saw the cost of the goal, and you actually maybe even went out and tried to make it happen in one place or another, and then you saw “You know what? This is harder than I thought it was, but it’s still worthwhile.”

This is how you grow yourself. This is how you discover yourself, when you push your boundaries and you start to actually see the costs of your goals. Every goal, every meaningful goal has a cost. You’re not just going to go and build a business with no cost. You’re not going to create a relationship with no cost. You’re not going to create the kind of health you want with no cost. You’re not going to improve your psychology and get rid of your negative thinking with no cost.

There’s always some sort of cost. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that has to be money. Many times it’s not money. Money is actually an easy cost to pay. The harder costs are the emotional labour costs that are involved.

The emotional labour involved with losing weight or admitting to yourself that you suck at relationships and you have to improve there, or starting to introspect and get rid of your negative thinking and your anxiety — these kinds of things — these are much harder, and it would be so nice if we could just pay a little bit of money to have that problem fixed.

Ultimately, you can’t pay someone to do that for you. As Jim Rohn says “You can’t pay someone to do your pushups for you. You have to do them yourself.” Realize that if you’re making lists of goals, and you’re a very ambitious person — for example me, I literally have lists that have fifty, a hundred goals on them for the year.

Invariably, a years passes, and I realize that only about twenty percent of them get accomplished. The other eighty percent, they never do. Even though my goals are specific, big and important to me — I feel like they are at the moment I write them down — eventually what I find happens is this kind of sifting process.

The weaker goals get sifted out and no action gets taken on them. Those top twenty percent, those are the ones you really want to focus on. Those are the ones that are big and the ones you’re going to have motivation to do.

As you’re making these lists, it’s OK, don’t beat yourself up for not accomplishing everything. You don’t have to be perfect. You won’t be. In fact, it’s a good thing. If you’re accomplishing everything on your lists, than means you’re not prioritizing your time effectively.

You want to be focusing your time on those top twenty percent of the goals that you have, that are really going to make a big, meaningful impact on your life. That’s a totally good way to work the goals and to work them throughout the year.

This is what I had to say about goal setting. Follow these points and you’re going to have really powerful, effective goals. Not just New Year’s resolutions, but you can do this throughout the whole year.

Wrap Up

This is Leo, I’m signing off. Go ahead and please, leave me your comments down below. Please, if you like this go ahead and click the like button, so that this video can get boosted higher. Go ahead and share it with your friends.

Of course, if you like this video and you like this content, come check out Actualized.org. Sign up to my newsletter. Actualized.org is all about helping you to self-actualize. What that means is how do you actually move towards the dreams you have? How do you unleash your full potential in life?

Whatever it is that you want, your inner development, whatever kind of circumstance you want to set up in your life, how do you actually go about doing that? I’ve spent so much time in my own life, struggling with that, trying to find ways and the best techniques and strategies. What I’ve committed my life to is sharing those with you.

Every week I’m releasing new videos, new articles, other goodies — all that for free. You can sign up and receive. What I found the value here is, is that we help keep you on track. If you’ve got these bigger dreams, these lofty ambitions and these goals, you have to have some sort of reminder in place.

You have to have a system where you’re getting reminded of new strategies, new techniques and tips. That’s what I created Actualized.org for, to help you stay on track with that process, and hopefully, make you a hobbyist of personal development.

I’ve gotten so much benefit from being a hobbyist of personal development. I want to share all those rewards I’ve received in my life — I want to share those with you. I want to show you how you can create an extraordinary kind of life for yourself by just getting involved in the process, and keeping up with it on a weekly, continuous basis. Small-chunking it until you create an extraordinary level of quality in your life.

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Frances says:

Leo, My first day on your site. WOW! What a concise and amazing video. AWESOME is the only word I can use to describe it. I have been using “The MAGIC” book for gratitude work and “IT WORKS” pamphlet by RHJ for goals. But your video added a BIGGER and even DEEPER level to the “IT WORKS” simple plan. I will continue with your VALUES videos ASAP. THANKS SO MUCH for your work!

Leo Gura says:

Thanks Frances

Alejandro says:

How do you get clarity?

Kristin Reichborn Kjennerud says:

I just showed this video to my son and he went out jogging. That’s been three months that I tried to make him do that (He is supposed to. He has this commitment to his tennisteam).

Brian Berson says:

Leo. i want to do something big. Right now i am recovering from a drug addiction from pain medication. I have a BA in psychology; however, i want to find a better program or some kind of cure for depression and drug addiction. I always have felt like i was put on the earth to do something great. I have ignored for a big portion of my life that i want to do something big. I do not want my life to be a waste. How would i even go about finding out or talking to the right people about what i want to do

jason says:

hi brian.i myself am a drug addict now looking to be free from this problem i found myself here,watched a few vids and they were great anyway.there is-ant a cure my freind im sorry to say be great if there was as ive been fighting my battle for over twenty years,some times winning the fight sometimes not , i always end up being an addict again but after watching these vids when im winning this battle again as i will be cus its going to be my goal.you nead to talk to peeps brian, stay strong and get used to BORDEM as once the joy of being free from addiction goes away as it does, hey that may be it dont lose that joy keep hold ov that joy and why not you deserve it my freind as the battle you have fought and is one ov the hardest things life throws at you very hard.no one understands this like you do, and you are winning you beat it.ive pissed away over twenty years of my life me dont no about you i hope your battle aint taken to long.keep winning this fight as you are doing depresion is a state ov mind im up and down like a yo yo,my problem is i just cant seem to find the will to start my battle as im down at the mo thats why im on this site,looking for inspiration,sad realy as ive a beautiful son ov 14, i have 2 small business, a family that loves me, good health,and still no motivation to get clean.good luck with my friend stay STRONG.

Kathy says:

I have heard of Ibogoa treatment centers.

Brian Berson says:

Also, i wanted to thank you for all your videos you post and please continue to keep making them. They have helped me in so many different areas.

David Reynolds says:

Thanks Leo your website is awesome!

Travis says:

really enjoyed the video learnt a lot

fernando says:

Hello again Leo,

Another powerful video I really enjoyed

This is how I manage my goal setting thing:

I did a template for a scheudle for the whole week. I make copies of it so I can register my progress in the long run. I’ve noted 18 goals at present, but they can vary and I give everyone of them a score everyday. 0 points means I did nothing about it or I did it wrong. 1 point means I did it good but not specially brilliant. 2 points means I did a good hard work on it.

Those 18 goals are related to my values. It toke a while to me to introspect about this. Those goals are:

1) Take care of my relationships at home. I’m married and got two sons.
2) Improve my relationships with the rest of my family (mother, uncles cousins and the like)
3) Take care of my friends inside and outside Almeria wich is the city I live in.
I moved here from Madrid some time ago so I still keep some nice friends there. I try to stay aware to keep in contact with them.
4) Do my best at work. I’m tattooist. This is obviously linked to art and painting and I always try to give the best of me with every piece.
5) Do my water colour paintings and some friend’s tattoos. Here I don’t depend of any customer’s request so I can do whatever I want without any restrictions.
6) Improve my english. My mother tongue is spanish. I live in Spain. I listen all your videos in the mp3 version and try to take party in the posts if I got the time. I also watch documentaries, interviews and stuff.
7) Improve my french. I do the same kind of things as when I practice some english.
Do some yoga for 20 minutes.
9) Do some meditation for 20 minutes.
10) Emotions management. To be aware and conscious of what i am feeling every now and then.
11) Cognitive defusion. It’s a concept I learnt on a book called The Happiness Trap, by Russ Harris. It’s pretty good to keep from negative thinking.
12) Eating healthy,of course.
13) Take my supplements. Green tea, Hypericum, vitamins, etc…
14) Go to bed early so I sleep seven or eight hours at least.
15) Drop bad habits off. Not to waste my time in the internet or doing some other useless stuff.
16) Not to start up new projects. Some times I set new goals wich are in the end a waste of time. Now I write down and meditate twice new ideas so I can manage my time properly.
17) Improve my bussiness, manage it’s matters, upload the new work’s pictures on our facebook page, etc…
1 Take party In your website doing some comments. It may sound strange but I found it valuable. I don’t have the time to post every now and then, instead of I’m becoming a junkie of this stuff about personal development since some months ago. I used to visit a therapist for some years. Now I keep on track by myself.

Martina says:

Leo ! ! ! ! Fucking awesome!!! Thanks !!!!!!!!!!! thanks a lot !!!

nathan says:

this is the best i hope i make an a depending on you leo.

Alex says:

Thanks, this got me to begin setting goals for myself

Although there’s one point that I can’t really get : what are the periods of time that you give to your goals ?
Do you have to make daily goals, or do you have to set them for a week or month ? Or is it better to make all three ?

Does someone have tips for that ?

Leo Gura says:

All of it: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and even decadely. You should have all that spelled out in detail.

Fabian says:

another eye-opener! i owe you big time and you know whats best? even though you give us so many great examples i feel like i want to know even more about that stuff and i started buying books about all kinds of interesting topics! life is much more interesting now!

Roger says:

Wow, I’m amazed how clear you make goals appear. I already have some of my goals written down and I am very anxious to get started. Time will tell which goals really are important. Thank you Leo

Shara says:

I’m so glad I watched this.
Thank you so much Leo.

Adnan Khan says:

Thanks for the video
But can you tell me how to choose which goal I have to priority and which not.

JohnL says:

My favorite part is at the end when you say that any real goals come with a cost. That’s the truth. People can’t handle the cost, whether it be waiting for a Cpl year to save up enough money for a business or even handling the hurt that comes with going to the gym to be a better more fit and healthy person. People give up with the snap of a finger these days. Got to do it for yourself because nobody else will.
Thanks Leo.

Max Gron says:

Goals are so good. My goal is to have pleasure and be happy with money. My goal is to have fun and be funny. However there’s no need to travel to strange and far away places for an old fool and get folly from his advice. I don’t take wisdom from these people. If you’re religious you’re a fool, it’s time to be focused on success, money and gold. To be in the business, but I’m no fool, the only thing missing is money.

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