As a practitioner and facilitator of goal setting for the past 30 years, I can say that while I believe in the process of goal setting, it has become a little too restrictive. By that I mean that many of the books on goals setting require boxes to be checked, forms to be filled, I’s to be dotted, and T’s to be crossed.
In the past, three questions had to be answered for goal setting to work its magic. The first question was WHAT do you want. Obviously if you set a goal, it is to acquire something. It could be something tangible like a vacation or a house or relationship, or it could be intangible such as greater patience, better organization, or an elevated level of interpersonal skills.
The next question that had to be answered was WHY do you want it. The underlying psychology behind answering the why question was an internal rationalization process that supposedly set the subconscious at ease and allowed the goal setter to act with effortless execution.
The last question that had to be answered was HOW do you derive what you want. This is a process that I called in my first book, Goals Book, functional decomposition. By that I meant, you break the goal down into imperceptible, almost subconscious behavioral steps that need to be posted into your calendar and acted upon daily.
Guess what? The above process works, and it works well. However, for as many successes as there are in the process there are typically many more failures. The reason behind the number of failures we experience has to do with the rigid, unforgiving process that we put ourselves through on a daily basis, and the guilt that arises from not accomplishing some of the action steps necessary to achieve our goal.
“Don’t bury your failures, let them inspire you.” – Robert Kiyosaki
For years I thought to myself, there has to be a better way to reach your goals, and I believe I found it! The questions haven’t changed, only their underlying motivation. Let me explain:
When there is something that is wanted, it becomes the WHAT. The what process is logical and scientific. Perhaps what you want is not logical or scientific, but asking the what question is. For example, if you need a new car, the what is very simple, it is a new car. Since we all know that a car is a mode of transportation, and transportation in modern society is necessary, wanting a new car is a very logical process.
However, the WHY, is an emotional process. So, the next question after what kind of a car do you want, is why do you want that one in particular, and this is the type of question that evokes emotion.
Perhaps you want a minivan for your growing family because you feel guilty by cramming your partner, three kids, and ice hockey equipment into your current vehicle. Perhaps you are looking for a high-end sports car that you consider to be an emotional extension of your personality. It really doesn’t matter; the fact is the WHY question is emotional.
It’s the HOW question that I have studied the most. Instead of the process of functional decomposition to determine every point perhaps, I thought, that not worrying so much about the how, and let it unfold before you is enough.
Jack Canfield suggested that you could drive across the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean at night only using your headlights. That means that you can travel 4000 miles by only seeing 200 feet in front of you. The how will unfold every 200 feet!
Using this more contemplative approach to goal setting works. Let me give you the steps below:
Step 1: Determine your WHAT. During this process, be as focused and as logical as possible as to what it is you are looking to have, to accomplish, or to become. See what you want in all of its visual splendor. Use your other senses as you see fit.
Step 2: Determine your WHY. In this step, you need to get excited about what you are looking for. This is not just sensual, but emotional! I want you getting so excited about what you want or what you are going to become that it brings a tear to your eye. When you combine the what and the why, that is logic and emotion working together.
Step 3: Don’t worry about the HOW! Yes, your reading that correctly. As long as you can see 200 feet in front of you, that is the next necessary action step. I have been using the system for several years now, and it works! It got me to move to Costa Rica without a clear plan and yet as I am writing this, I am in the process of opening up yet another business! I could never have done this if I try to plan for it.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso
If you are metaphysical, you can say you threw it out to the universe. If you are psychological, you can say that you made micro adjustments to your subconscious that brought about the desired result. If you are theological, you could say that God helps those who help themselves.
If you’re like me, you realize it’s a combination of all three, and you keep moving forward. I have found that this process has literally changed my life.