The Basics of Goal Setting- Why it not as easy as many make it out to be! – and 5 steps to make it easy!

Posted by in Personal Effectiveness


Goal setting is a Science! However, one needs to be prepared to do many iterations before being able to achieve a model that works!

Reading books on setting goals is a great eye opener. It sets a sense of urgency on what one needs to do, to move forward in life. It opens one’s eyes to the things that one needs to do NOW, and prioritize the activities. Putting items in various quadrants, and other numerous models that can be used to get the life you wanted, becomes the norm!

And then, reality sets in.

You realize that, for some reason, you don’t know where to start.

Trying to work through the maze of things to do could be a different goal by itself!

When I started off, I found my focus to be something like this! A balancing act that was a miracle by itself- and I was doing things to keep the whole act balance by itself!



You quickly realize the following-

· You don’t know where to start.

· You realize you are leading a life that is tethering on the edge.

· You really don’t have a very clear or central goal (if you do, you should congratulate yourself for you have to be a minority in this area – most people don’t know what their core purpose in life is).

· You spend most of the time in life following the things that are of immediate importance- in most cases these are items that offer immediate gratification!

· Most importantly, your activities are upside down compared to what most experts advise!

· You are running around spending time on your career, and making more money (or at least trying to) so that your family can have the best life possible! Ironically, at the end of the day, the whole purpose is lost because there is no time to spend with the family!

Over the years, I have attended programs like the Steven Covey’s 7 Habits, read books by Brian Tracy (Goals etc.), and other numerous books on Managing time & setting Goals. Every book has been brilliant and has provided numerous tips on how best to do Goal-setting.

However, a few pointers that has stuck with me- and here are the top 5 things that have stuck with me!

1. Focus on the CENTRAL GOAL of your life. It will vary from person to person . For me it is FAMILY! Everything that I do, I work on, has the family as the central goal. This central goal becomes the governing principle of your life. It could be Religion (I have friends who do things that help them get closer to god). Brian Tracy in his books “Goals” calls this the “Reticular Cortex”, which is where the brain starts visualizing this end goal.

2. Don’t expect QUICK RESULTS – This is a slow process. After all you have spent a few decades of your life leading an existence without these guiding principles. How do you change it at short notice? It is a long road – and you need to be prepared to drive through this. A few trial and errors are required. I moved from using the trial version of Franklin Covey to software that helps sets goals (Goalpro). After much trials (and more errors and non-starters), I have come to using a good old Excel sheet to help me formulate the goals. It is still a long way from being good- but it works to an extent. I can at least articulate my key goals in their list of priorities. (Not here though 😉 ).

3. Do the FIRST DRAFT first – Complete one draft – however vague it is – as it sets the tone to start the next steps. Keep at it – so that you are able to address this effectively. Focus on creating the key goals you are going to focus on.

4. Avoid getting stuck into “Tasks” and focus on the big picture – This is one area I found myself repeatedly during this exercise. It is easy to get confused and focus on “tasks” – activities that you have to do and miss the bigger goals. Example, deliver that presentation to the customer by 12 noon tomorrow rather than delivering on the goal of possibly being – the person “who is always dependable and delivers on his commitments”.

5. Pen & Paper – Always works better than computer! Write down the activities & do the exercises on paper. This is one area that I did not focus on- and in hindsight, a key element of success in your goal setting journey.



This is an example of how the earlier balancing act could be realigned – with clear focus on the central purpose & allocating the time that is required to make it happen! Once the central purpose is taken care, the rest follows. Remember to focus on every single element of your goal statements – and keep moving accordingly. Every element is critical.

Here are some good reading material that could help you with this…

Goals! How to Get Everything You Want–Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible

Get Motivated!: Overcome Any Obstacle, Achieve Any Goal, and Accelerate Your Success with Motivational DNA

Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want And Getting It

Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed

The Secret (Extended Edition)