Updated: Jan 7, 2020
In 1981, I was out on New Year’s Eve with a very good friend of mine, when the topic of setting goals came up in the conversation. Being New Year's Eve, it was inevitable that we would reflect upon the previous year and start thinking ahead to what we planned to achieve in the next year. We quickly came up with our goals for 1982, and literally scribbled them down on the back of a napkin at the bar. It was the first time I had set annual goals, and have not stopped since.
For more than 30 years I have been setting goals in order to improve my life. Health, family, career, anything that would help me move forward, progress and achieve contentment. Being a left-brained thinker and always hungry for achievement, the whole process of setting and achieving goals appealed to my most inner nature and unconscious mind. The simple process of setting annual goals for more than 30 years has enabled me to build a fantastic career as an executive with some of the most exciting companies in Canada, build interesting businesses, start and raise a family of three wonderful children, contribute in a meaningful way to my community, live comfortably in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and pursue passions such as my ranch in the interior of beautiful British Columbia.
Over the years I achieved many important goals and missed a number of big goals as well, but along the way, I have fine-tuned my method. In more than 30 years of setting and achieving goals, here are the most important things I have learned:
Keep Them Simple but Important: Our brains like simplicity. Contrary to popular belief, most people are not effective multi-taskers. They think they are, but they are not. I set one big goal for each of the important areas of my life, which are Health, Family and Wealth.
Separate Goals from Actions: Goals are the strategic outcomes that make a measureable and important difference in my life, while actions are the short-term steps I need to take to achieve them. For each goal, I will have a series of actions that I need to take to achieve that goal.
Write Them Down: I always commit my goals to paper and post it directly where I can see it each day. Sometime I write them down every day, which I found to be a fantastic reminder of their importance.
Measure and Display: I set up a system to measure the achievement of my goals and then display my progress over time. For instance, this year I wanted to eat healthier, so I challenged myself to the LeBron James Diet for 90 days and measured my progress every day, and did it!
Focus on Daily Habits: One of the reasons most people don’t achieve goals is because they become impatient and expect results very quickly. Anything worthwhile normally takes a lot of time, so I put all my effort on achieving daily progress through good habits. I work the coal face hard.
Have Faith: I periodically fail to reach goals or run into serious roadblocks that seem insurmountable. I have come to believe that I must think both rationally (task) and irrationally (faith) at the same time to overcome these difficulties. I only recently found out that there is a name for it, The Stockdale Paradox, and you can read more about it here.
MOST IMPORTANT – Only share your goals with those people that want you to achieve them! Creating an environment for the achievement of your goals is the most important way to make them happen. Surround yourself with people that want you to achieve them, not just support you, but who are truly better off when you achieve your goals. This will make it a lot easier for you when the going gets tough, and give you greater satisfaction when you eventually get there.