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The 10 [Maniacal] Steps I Take For Setting Goals

It took me 40 years to figure out that the key to life is feeling like I had a fulfilling day — I accomplish that through setting goals…and I’m maniacal about them.

I believe that without goals your progress comes to a screeching halt. As Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator once said:

“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.”

One thing I learned in my goal setting was that these 9 topics matter most...I now keep them nearby

Here’s how I set my goals:

I “begin with the end in mind” (one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People) — I define what I want in my entire life and then chunk down my goals from there.

Here are the 10 chunks (or “steps”) I take:

1) Start With Your Life Purpose Statement

The first thing I do is write a life purpose statement. Mine is:
“To positively vibrate the Universe through friends, family and even strangers.”
I wrote that after going through How To Write A Purpose Statement that I learned from Life Coach Terry Cranford — the main 2 steps are:
  1. Listing up to 10 of your wants, needs & fears (in this case about your entire life)
  2. Writing down a sentence grouping those into a few topics or themes (this is the start of your purpose statement) (you’ll wordsmith it as needed)
Or, you can follow personal development guru Steve Pavlina’s approach:
  1. Write at the top of a document, “What is my true purpose in life?”
  2. Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
  3. Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.

Steve cried at the 106th answer with this life purpose statement :

“To live consciously and courageously, to resonate with love and compassion, to awaken the great spirits within others, and to leave this world in peace.”

Ok, now you’re ready for your goals. Before we get started, I want to point out that I believe in setting ambitious goals. As the advertising guru Leo Burnett once said:

“When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.”

2) Write Down Your “Big Picture Goals”

After that, I started to notice that there are a handful of really important “big picture goals.” These are the more specific items that I know if I do I’ll support my life purpose statement above.

Here is an example of my big picture goals:

  1. Love many (incl. serving others in need)
  2. Be loved by many
  3. Create legacy (leave the world much better off than I found it)
  4. Improve my family
  5. Have many close friends with whom I stay in touch
  6. Create & grow businesses
  7. Feel healthy-good
  8. Express myself creatively (through books, movies, music, art, etc.)
  9. See the world
  10. Connect with nature

3) Write Down Your “Lifetime Goals”

Now you’re ready for a more specific list of “lifetime goals” that will support your “big picture goals.”

Examples of my lifetime goals include to:
  • Have an amazing wife
  • Have children
  • Become closer to my immediate family
  • Have friends in multiple places and with whom I enjoy being
  • Create multiple businesses
  • Write a book
  • Record a CD/album
  • Create a movie
  • Live to 110
  • Have substantial impact on education system
  • Have substantial impact on curing pancreatic cancer
  • Advance my local community
  • Spend 30 days per year overseas
  • Have a net worth…let’s call it $10 billion (that’s a fun # for this exercise!)

4) Set Your 20-Year Goals

Then, I set more specific 20-year goals that will support those lifetime goals. For example, here are some of mine:

  • Have a happy wife
  • Have 2+ children
  • Have formed a (bi-)annual family trip tradition
  • Have formed a tradition of a get-together with my Chicago friends
  • Have formed a tradition of a get-together with my high school friends
  • Have participated in 25 businesses (an average of one per year)
  • Have 5 businesses sold or producing cash for me
  • Be the healthiest 63 year old I know!
  • Have a net worth of…let’s call it $1 billion
  • etc.

5) Set Your 5-Year Goals

Then I set 5-year goals that will support my 20-year goals such as:

  • Get married
  • Attempt to have children
  • Have had 5  family vacations
  • Had had 5 to 10 trips with Chicago and High School friends combined
  • Participate in 5 real businesses
  • Have one business producing substantial cash flow
  • Have a net worth of $100 million
  • etc.

Then do the same with:

6) Set Your 1-Year Goals

Your 1-year goals should support your 5-year goals.

7) Set Your 90-Day Goals

Your 90-day goals should support your 1-year goals.

8) Set Your 30-Day Goals

Your 30-day goals should support your 90-day goals.

Now, I keep all of the above in a Google Doc and I print out the 90 day and 30 day goals and keep it on my desk in a stand-up binder.

Another tip: I use this type of stand-up binder on my desk to keep my 30-day and 90-day goals in front of me...out of site, out of mind!

9) Set Your Weekly Goals

I set my weekly goals every Sunday night with an emphasis on the 5 or so major projects in my life that I want to make progress on to support my 30-day goals.

10) Set Your Daily Goals

Every night before I go to sleep I write down my daily goals for the next day (to support my weekly goals).

Revising Goals

I revise my goals periodically as I add, delete or modify what I want to try to do in life.

Don’t worry about missing some goals. You’re still achieving way more than if you hadn’t set the goals at all!

In fact, once thing you will find is that you will achieve some things that weren’t even goals at all…those are bi-product achievements as a result of your goal setting.

What I Write Down Every Night Before I Go To Sleep

Finally, right before I’m going to go to sleep, I write down the handful of awesome things that I accomplished/experienced that day.

It’s usually just a few bullets of stuff.

They won’t necessarily be directly related to my goals — they’ll just be things that make me feel great.

2 Comments

  • Inglath Cooper

    Great roadmap. I agree that we get so much more accomplished with a visual of where we’re headed. Thanks for sharing your method.

  • Ben Philabaum

    This is such a powerful exercise. It has already shown enormous impact in my life.

    I had thought about making an iPhone app for YEARS. But it was always just a fleeting thought and I would quickly move on to something else.

    But using this goal process – I made one of my 30 days goals to finally create an app and then set my weekly goals to support what would need to be done to achieve the 30 day goal.

    And it worked! I now have an app live on the app store. In 1 month of having clearly set goals and tackling them I had achieved something I had thought about doing for years.

    Thanks Rob!

    If you want to learn more about my experience creating the app you can check out this write-up I did here:

    http://benphilabaum.com/how-i-made-my-first-app-in-3-weeks-for-250-with-no-coding-skills/