How To Set Goals For Your Best Year Ever
What separates those who set goals and achieve them, and those who don’t bother with goals?
At every moment, those who get goal setting right are always on a continuum of achieving and setting goals.
I remember in 2011 when we got married, we lived in a flat in London, which we owned.
However, we dreamt of having a family one day and set off on what we called our ‘10 year plan’.
One of the dreams we had was to own a house with its own door i.e. not a flat on the first or second floor.
Recently I met my mum for a catch-up, and she reminded me – “Remember those days when you’d always say you wanted a house with its own door”?
I had obsessed so much about this that even my mum made a permanent record of it in her memory.
We’d drive around in a car and look at houses in areas we liked and dreamt of starting a family.
By faith, we set off to buy a 4-bed house and dreamt of having either 2 or 3 children one day. The number of children was and is still up for debate.
It’s interesting looking back on this as I ponder on why people set goals and set off to achieve them.
Why did we achieve our goal? Why does anyone achieve a goal?
Every year since I met Mary to date has been a landmark year. Something significant has either happened or we’ve achieved a big goal.
Here are some examples:
2009 – We met at a Rich Dad Poor Dad property investing seminar in London.
2010 – We got engaged and continued planning a future together.
2011 – We got married and interestingly our wedding was cash flow positive.
2012 – We bought our family home – The ‘house with a door’ we dreamed of above.
2013 – Joshua was born on Mother’s day. Best gift ever!
2014 – Elias was born + I negotiated the funding for a £65k Executive MBA.
2015 – I survived a tough year of 2 children, high performing job and demanding MBA course.
2016 – After reading Think & Grow Rich, we invested in property again. Plus I graduated with an MBA from the world’s greatest university (I'm biased!). I continued to grow career-wise and became Finance Director.
2017 – We created ‘The Humble Penny’ + Accelerated to Financial Independence + I became CFO + We invested again in Property.
2018 – We celebrated 7 years of a happy marriage and teamwork. Plus a year of highs, lows and surprises as we celebrated one year of blogging.
Note that with each of these years, I make a list of what went well.
We usually have about 20 things per year and I've only chosen 1 – 2 per year for the above example.
Although some things on the list of 20 came as a surprise, the majority of them have come partly because we had them as goals initially.
They’ve also become a reality because of the incredible support and sacrifice I have from Mary. Every bit of success has her fingerprints all over it.
This is another reason why I say that choosing the right partner is the secret sauce to a guaranteed rich life.
With all these wins, there have also been failures along the way.
However, each failure became a catalyst for getting better.
Now here is the point to me telling you all this –
There is a way to set goals that lead to a desirable outcome.
Setting a goal in itself is a win as most people don’t bother and as such don’t get anywhere.
What you do after your goals are set is quite another thing as there is a challenging gap between setting a goal and achieving it.
Did I mention that there is a positive correlation between having goals and a growing bank balance?
Goals matter and represent that starting place for any successful outcome.
Given they matter so much, I remain shocked by the number of people who at every moment in time do not have goals.
I asked a friend of mine about her goals and she admitted that she struggled setting goals because she did not know what was possible.
That response set off a series of thoughts in my mind because I had never heard it put like that before.
I had always assumed goal setting was straightforward because it was already a big part of my internal culture.
How to set goals is a challenge for many people and it is my hope that this post will help you make this a part of how you do life.
Now let me break down how to set goals for your best year ever:
Set Goals First With Gratitude
You recall I had told you earlier that each year I would write down 20 things that went well?
The reason I do this is to appreciate and be thankful for what we’ve achieved.
Our days go by so quickly that it’s easy to have small wins through the year and not celebrate them.
So I keep a log of small wins. When times are hard, I look at them and they lift me up and give me a fresh perspective.
Gratitude also plays an important role in our lives as the antidote for optimism.
People who are grateful for even the smallest things are happier and tend to look to the future positively.
Ever notice I say the below at the end of every blog post?
“Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.”
I literally copy and paste this into every blog post deliberately.
This is to help us remember we're blessed no matter our circumstances today.
Tomorrow will be better because we are wired to seek a better life.
But for today, let's be thankful and appreciate all we see around us.
Examples of things I’m grateful for include: Waking up today, being healthy, having a roof over our heads, having family and friends etc.
Action point: Ready to set goals? Grab a pen and paper and write down 10 things you’re grateful for today. Feel free to add your wins for the year too.
Set Goals Beginning With Your Dreams & Reasons
My friend’s comment about not knowing what is possible really made me think.
Rather than set goals based on what is possible, I’d suggest you set goals starting broadly with your dreams.
This way, you aren’t trying to compare to something or someone else.
You simply look inward and ask yourself, what does a dream life look like for me?
To do this effectively, it helps to find some quiet time to yourself now and again.
No TV, mobile phone, children etc.
Even if you have a partner, I’d suggest doing this on your own first.
Related post: How To Achieve Big Goals With Your Partner
Dreams alone won’t cut it. You need reasons! This is the why question.
Here is a good example – I wanted to become Financially Independent because I wanted to change the financial future for my children.
Another example – I wanted to be mortgage free early because I watched my parents struggle to pay off a 25-year mortgage aged 65.
When the going gets tough, your reasons will keep you focused.
For me, these various reasons gave me a burning desire like you can never imagine.
I just had to achieve those goals because I could see how they would change our lives.
Examples of dream goals I have: Touring the entire Caribbean, Building a purpose-driven business, doing a TED Talk etc.
My reasons – Life experiences, living a purpose driven life, and growing in my personal development.
Action point: Answer the below questions –
What type of dream lifestyle is appealing to you? Do you look and feel happy in that life?
And what do other people have to do with it? Why exactly do you want to achieve these dreams?
Set Goals With A Life Balance
Achieving balance in life is important.
Although I’ve come to realise that in life, nothing is achieved without sacrifice.
Sometimes, you have to give something up in order to create something amazing.
A good example of this is that I’ve had to give up TV in order to create this blog.
There are 9 broad areas that make up most of our lives.
A friend of mine calls them the 9 Fs:
- Firm (your work)
- Fun (play)
- For Others (Charitable endeavours)
- For Legacy
If you ranked each of the 9 areas from 1 (I’m doing poorly) to 10 (I’m doing amazingly), what would your numbers look like?
See mine below:
You can see from mine that I’m a rockstar on Finance, Firm, Family, Faith, For Legacy, For Others.
However, I could be a lot better on Fun, Fitness, Friends.
Creating the chart as I did above is a good indication of areas you need to target for goals.
It is also usually an indication of areas you’ve sacrificed in order to be a success in another area.
The lines in red correspond to the score you’ve given yourself out of 10 for each category.
If your life is balanced, then your chart above will look more like a circle.
Don’t be afraid to sacrifice certain aspects of life to build other areas up in the short term.
Action point: Is your life currently balanced? Carry out the balance exercise above.
Set Goals That Are SMART
Once you’ve broadly identified areas (e.g. one of the 9Fs) that you’d like to set goals around, you then need a bit more focus.
Having goals such as “I want to retire earlier” or “I’d like to be more fit” will not cut it.
You need to set SMART goals – Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timebound
For example –
“I want to retire earlier at the age of 55”.
“Get fit by losing 3 kilos within 6 months”.
“Increase my net income by 100% in 24 months”.
Only when your goals are SMART do they actually start to become worthy of pursuing.
You also need less emotion in order to convert your goals into actionable steps.
Set Goals To Win
A huge misunderstanding about goals is the idea of trade-offs.
Everything you pursue in life has a real trade-off because you’ll likely have finite resources.
So if you decide to start a side hustle, it will be at the cost of something else e.g. your free time and/or savings.
Assessing what trade-offs exist with each goal you set is critical to making sure your goals are actually realistic however ambitious you are.
This could also help you exercise more creativity as you consider other ways you can work towards your goals.
Key to winning when it comes to goals is taking the SMART goals you set above and converting them into periodic steps and actions.
For example, if you had a goal of doubling your income in 24 months, you’d consider 2 things:
Your strategy could be to focus on a side business coupled with going for a big work promotion.
Your tactics could be to wake up daily at 4.30am daily to work on your side business.
And one for work could be – taking a lead on projects at work with visible bonus incentives.
These tactics will gradually become a part of your schedule and planner and occupy slots in your calendar.
Set Goals That Become Real
For goals to become real, there is a need to work on – habits, rituals, and disciplines.
It is at this final stage that most people fail and a minority win.
My personal experience is that it helps to become obsessed with your goals driven by your reasons.
On our journey to Financial Independence, I would always remember specific points of no return:
- When I sat in a room with a former boss and she reminded me that she was in control of my immediate future.
- Days when I would rest on my back in a park as I stared at aeroplanes flying by and dreamed of holidays.
- Those days when my parents would argue about money because there just wasn’t enough.
- Days when we bought “no frills” groceries because we couldn’t afford anything branded.
- The days when I had limited rights as an immigrant and couldn’t even imagine a good paying job.
- Those hard days when I prayed for a breakthrough in my career and struggled to believe I had what it took.
The list goes on.
My desire to create a life of options was so strong that whenever I took a knock on the journey, it was motivation to keep going.
These desires have kept me going even today.
It’s for this reason that I’m able to wake up at 4am if I need to in order to deliver a blog post or work project.
The habits, rituals, and disciplines have become a big part of my internal culture because my reasons are strong enough.
What are your reasons for wanting that life you want?
Action point: Sit down and think of turning points in your life. Were there any points of no return?
Moments that made you cry and crave a new life?
How did they make you feel? And how do you feel today?
If you feel the frustration I did, then you have the fuel of desire that will take you places.
Write them down for they will become assets for the journey.
The version of you today is not equipped for the version of you for tomorrow.
To grow and become who you need to become for the life you desire, you need to focus on how to set goals effectively.
Setting goals is one thing, and achieving them is quite another.
For the latter, you need reasons, habits, rituals, and disciplines day after day.
As you go through the journey, stay grateful and appreciate the opportunity to pursue goals.
You’re one or more goals away from your best year ever!
- Book Recommendation: The Productivity Planner
- Why Setting Goals Is Important For Debt Freedom
- Books I Love: Personal Development, Productivity, Money etc
- The One Way To Fast Track Your Financial Independence
How have you struggled with setting goals in the past? What tips can you offer on how to set goals?
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy