How Do You Set Goals?

By: Dan Kennedy on: November 15th, 2010 4 Comments

That’s what Gold/VIP Member Darin Garman asked me, With hindsight, I could have given a better, more complete answer.

One thing I said, that I always do, is re-consider remaining and new items on my “ugly list”. The things about my business or life I don’t like, that perpetually bug me, create stress, waste time, get in the way. Their resolution or elimination equals goals. It is easier to pull weeds than to grow flowers.

One thing I didn’t say, that I do, is consider my own behavior, from the Pogo list: “we have met the enemy and they is us.” What can I do better to be better? Equates to goals.

Some people attempt the blank slate, blank page, fresh, unblemished blanket of white snow approach. Beginning with: what they want. Personally, I’ve never made that work. I have lots of carry-over from month to month and year to year. Work in progress, projects in progress, goals I haven’t hit on time. As I write this, the countdown-to-retirement clock reads: “7 Days, 17 Hours, 10 Minutes, 29 Seconds.”

But it will hit 0 and I won’t yet be ready for the celebration. In fact, I’ve extended 365 days. There are a few lingering frustrations. Unmade decisions. So I have a carry-over list. Fortunately, there’s a really big ‘Done’ list too. And I am determined: no carryover at 372. By ‘retirement’, by the way, I really mean “next life” not “doing nothing.”

Some people use the calendar heavily, as I do. First of all, there are lots of dates blocked off way in advance, all the way through any given year.. This leaves a limited number “loose”, to be thought about. Then I divide by months, quarters, the halves, to note the goals to be accomplished by each end-point. I might add, I rely very heavily on ‘deadlines’ to get myself motivated to work, to write, to produce.

Some people categorize: Business, Personal, Family, Money, Health, etc. I used to use this as the overriding structure; it’s the first approach I learned, from Paul Meyer’s ‘Dynamics Of Goal Setting’ SMI course. I subsequently taught a similar approach in my own, original ‘Money/Business/Success Course’ (out of print). I still use this, too, but secondarily.

Most successful people I know make and constantly modify lists, one way or another. I’m mostly a legal pad guy, although I also use little cards and wall and portable storyboards.

Most significantly, this isn’t a once a year exercise, like ‘new years resolutions’. It is an on-going, continuing, nearly daily process.


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4 Responses

  1. Paul Serwin says:

    Whenever I set my goals, I always envision myself after I had accomplished the goal. How do I feel about reaching my goal? What’s the best part about accomplishing them? What steps did I take and what challenges did I overcome?

    Answering these questions in the past tense (as if they all ready happened) give me more clarity when I set my goals.

  2. Len Ferrara says:

    Great insight. I’ve had great luck with David Allen’s, GTD.

  3. […] by Dan Kennedy on November 16, 2010 var fbShare = {url: '',size:'small'} Yesterday, I taked about how to set goals. […]

  4. Blocking of dates on a Calender way ahead is a great way to see the year ahead, and achieve ones goals. This year I blocked of dates till the end of the year, only to have to make a slight course change around the middle of the year, but it wasn’t too difficult getting back on track.

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