DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 10 months ago
When setting goals, it is wise to start with what you know and are certain about and let what you know grow.
In other words, start with what your life already demonstrates that you're currently committed to.
Anytime you set a goal that you're not truly committed to, you train yourself not to do what you say, not to walk your talk and instead to limp your life.
When you begin with what you know and what your life already shows evidence of you already doing and pursuing, and you set goals that are congruent and aligned with that, you are more likely to achieve those goals.
It all begins with knowing what you truly value.
Every human being has a set of priorities or values that they live their life by. Whatever is highest on their list of values, in other words what is truly most important and meaningful to them, they'll tend to spontaneously be inspired from within to act on and achieve.
As such, you are wise to ensure that your goals, intentions and objectives you would love to achieve, and your attentions, or what you would love to learn, are aligned and congruent with what you truly value the most. This is because whatever you value most is where you are highly likely to be the most disciplined, reliable and focused. They are also where you tend to have the most stamina, perseverance, dedication and commitment.
On the other hand, anything that is lower on your list of values, you'll be more likely to procrastinate, hesitate and frustrate on. In the majority of cases, you won’t even start and if you do you will not sustain your pursuit of it.
What you may not know is that any time you set a goal that's lower on your list of values, you train yourself not to do what you say, which leads to self-depreciation and / or a reduced belief in yourself. As opposed to setting goals that are clear, certain and congruent with what you value most, in which case you are most likely to achieve them and have your self-worth increase as a result.
Around 50 years ago when I was 17 years old, I knew that I wanted to travel the world, so I wrote that down on my list of goals. I knew that I wanted to overcome my learning challenges, so I wrote that down. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I wrote that down too.
Each of these goals was something I had already begun to take action on, and not just fantasies about what I perceived I should, ought to or must do according to some outside authorities.
Each goal was something so real to me that it brought a tear of inspiration and authenticity each time I thought about them – another indication that those goals were congruent with my highest values.
I then asked myself: “What are the actions I can do and steps I can take to make those goals come true?”
It’s wise to be very specific during this step, instead of writing vague generalities and blurred outcomes such as, “become rich” and “have the perfect body”. Instead, I recommend listing highly specific actions that you have control over in your life.
You only have control over three things in life - your perceptions, decisions and actions. So saying, “I want to have a million dollars”, is not an action or true goal.
However, saying, “I'm going to sell this product, for this amount, sell this number of items with a profit margin of this amount, with a cost to company of this amount, with a net profit of this amount, and I'm going to save this amount after taxes, I'm going to accumulate this amount over time. As such, you have a very specific strategy of how you're going achieve your goals.
I didn't reach my goals and become fortunate financially by just holding a vision in my mind of what I wanted to achieve. I laid out a specific action plan, and targeted the specific actions that were congruent with that outcome.
It’s for this reason that, when setting a goal, it’s wise to start with something you're certain about and something you know your life is committed to.
This is likely to have a far more successful outcome than wasting your time on wishy-washy fantasies, or one-sided fantasies where you try to achieve a positive without a negative, a happy without a sad, a kind without a cruel, and a one-sided life that is impossible to achieve.
You are far more likely to achieve your goals when you embrace both sides of your life and set real objectives.
An objective is balanced. It's not polarized to a fantasy side. For example, if I said I'm always going to be positive and never going to have a negative thought; it's not achievable. If I said I'm always going to be kind and never be cruel; it's not achievable.
But if I say, regardless of whether I am positive or negative, nice or mean, both of are feedback mechanisms to help me move closer towards my authentic self; that’s achievable. Either polar side is an imbalanced ratio of perceptions which are unabtainable. Just like pursuing a one sided magnet or monopole. If you embrace a goal of a two poled magnet it is obtainable.
To sum up so far: when setting out to clarify, expand and achieve your goals, it is wise to set up something that is:
- That has a strategy;
- That is congruent with what you value most;
- That is balanced; and includes simultaneous contrasts.
- That has specific action steps that will increase the probability of you performing them.
Take the time to check that you haven’t put incongruent contradictory objectives together.
In the 1980s when I was consulting with doctors throughout the world, I would often have doctors outline goals that included owning a million-dollar practice while working four days a week, golfing twice a week, spending a certain number of hours each day with my family, and having further time for holidays and travel.
When I did the math with them, it didn’t add up. In order to achieve their goal, they would have to increase the number of office visits, patient volume, or cost per visit. So part of my role was to spend time with them to adjust their goals so we could come up with ones that were sound, congruent, and non-contradictory objectives.
As I explained to them, the brain tends to delete goals that are contradictory or just plain fantasy to protect you from self-defeat and self-deprecation that likely occur as a result.
Once we did that and mined down the action steps that were achievable and had a likely outcome, the doctors were able to incrementally build them. As such, their achievement levels completely transformed as they began to make real progress and build momentum going forwards.
Take the time to metric your goals.
For example, you could look back at the end of the week and identify:
- What you accomplished;
- Whether your goals are realistic in practical terms;
- What this feedback reveals. If your goal was to do X number of calls and you made one third of that number of calls, what was the reason? Is it truly valuable to you? Is it truly a priority to you? Is it something you would be wise to delegate? Would you become more efficient if you linked those actions to one of your higher values?
Once your action steps are congruent with the goal, you're now on track with it and better able to metric it. As such, you can see where you are in two weeks, a month, two months and in six months’ time.
I'm someone who loves to metric my goals because it means that I am accountable to the goal that I'm setting. If you're not really willing to metric your goal, you're likely not truly committed to the goal.
Ask, what are the highest priority action steps that will lead me to my desired goal?
As I mentioned earlier, you have control over your perceptions, decisions and actions.
Setting high priority actions steps and taking those steps is something you have control over. You don't have control over the result, but you do have control of the actions that will give you the result.
Identify the obstacles you may run into and how you can solve them in advance.
Risk mitigation, planning and foresight takes place in the Executive Center of the brain. If you’re planning ahead and looking for obstacles you may run into, you’re less likely to be broadsided by things that you could have anticipated but didn't. As such, it is wise to try and identify as many of these as possible in advance.
Now I'm not negating the idea and practice of visualizing your desired outcome. I've had many goals in my life that I've envisioned in my mind that have become a reality in my life. However, when I look back at what was going on, that vision wasn't randomly, mysteriously, miraculously, and mystically brought into my life. It was largely the result of the action steps that I was taking and the degree that it was congruent with my highest values and true objectives. As such, I was leading to the probability of that outcome instead of passively sitting back and waiting for it to happen.
Every time you set a goal that you achieve, you tend to give yourself permission to set a bigger, greater, and broader goal with increased space and time horizons.
Not only will you find yourself doing things faster than you did at the beginning, but you will also build incremental momentum as you go along. Achieving your goals and walking your talk often results in your expanding those goals as you go so that you begin setting bigger and greater goals along the way. It’s natural to keep expanding your space and time horizons, as you work on goals that will leave a mark on the world beyond your life.
To use my own example, I have a goal to be able to contribute to enough people's lives where the work I'm doing, the books I write and the videos I create go beyond my life. There's no limit to the number of people I might be able to reach by doing that. So essentially, my goal can keep going even though I have a finite, limited time on earth.
I often say during my Master Planning for Life program that while your goals always start out as mortal, they may end up becoming immortal.
As you face and overcome challenges, and achieve more and more or greater achievables, you may begin to reach for the unachievables - things that go beyond your life.
So-called success and failure when it comes to achieving your goals are both valuable feedback.
I often say the second you think you're successful, you're de-purposing; the second you think you're a failure, you're repurposing. They're both homeostatic feedback mechanisms to keep you on track, to make sure you set real goals in real timeframes with real strategies.
- If you're puffed up, proud and cocky, you'll tend to set too big a goal in too short a timeframe in order to humble you.
- If you're down and minimizing yourself, you'll tend to set too small a goal in too long a timeframe to lift you.
In other words, both are just mechanisms to help you set real goals in real times and real strategies that really mean something to you - goals that you'll metric and not give up on, and ones you’ll persevere with and make happen.
A great question to help sharpen your focus is to create a so-called “Bucket List” by asking yourself, “If I were to die in the next year, what would I want to get done?”
Getting in touch with your mortality can often help you think about what’s truly a priority in your life.
I like to ask people how many books they read a month. Many will answer that they read around one a month. So, if you had a year to live, that would mean reading just 12 more books. Wouldn’t that inspire you to ensure that each book you thought about reading was rigorously scrutinized to see if it was worth making your final list?
Prioritize your goals because your time on earth is going to go by quicker than you think.
Make sure you're getting to the ones that are most meaningful, most fulfilling, most inspiring, most important, the one that makes the biggest difference, and put those on your bucket list.
It’s for this reason that I teach both the Breakthrough Experience program and more in-depth Master Planning for Life program, to help you help you avoid distractions, fantasies and unrealistic expectations and then beat yourselves up and wonder why you're not confident.
When you clarify your goals and align them so they are congruent with your highest values instead of fantasies that don’t come true and result in you self-deprecating, then you will be far more likely to achieve and expand on those goals and live a truly extraordinary and fulfilling life.
To sum up:
If you would love to increase the probability of reaching your goals, it would be wise to:
- Set goals and objectives that are truly meaningful, inspiring and high on your list of values.
- Break each goal down into smaller and smaller daily action steps to increase your probability of achieving each one.
- Create realistic timeframes for each of these smaller goals.
- Look for evidence in your life of ways you are already making progress towards that goal. If your life does not show evidence, you may have a fantasy instead of a realistic goal, or balanced objective.
- Reassess your goals regularly in terms of progress you have made. If you find you are hesitating, procrastinating, or frustrating, you may want to relook at how closely those goals are aligned with your highest values.
- Set real goals in real time frames with real metrics that are truly meaningful to you, that are really prioritized.
If you are inspired to fast-track the process and have expert guidance in mastering the goal-setting game and mastering your life, then join me at Master Planning for Life.
If you would love to get past your polarized emotions, and challenges you face in your life while also getting clear about setting congruent goals, then register for my signature two-day online program, the Breakthrough Experience, that I present most every week.
Both of these programs are designed to help you build momentum in your goal setting, break through everything that you think is “in the way” so you can see that it “on the way” so you can live a congruent, inspired, leadership-filled, and masterful life.
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