When it comes to achieving anything in life, I firmly believe that goal setting plays a fundamental role.
But just how important is it? And how do we go about setting goals successfully?
This article will dive into why goal setting is crucial to your success in life and business, and will show you a few things you can do to make sure you stay focused on whatever it is you set out to achieve.
And to help tackle these important questions, I managed to sit down with multiple business owner, coach, and friend of 20 years, David Braithwaite.
David has been a member of the wonderful Strategic Coach® program for many years now, and has recently become a coach for them himself, so I was keen to hear what he had to say about the goal-setting process that helped him achieve incredible success in business. Here’s what he said:
Goal setting gives you your “why”
David: “For me, goals have always been part of a well-thought-out process. They didn’t always used to be like that though. In the past, people just used to turn up to their job and try to do the best they could do.
But what’s the point in that? Goals help to answer that question. When you set goals, you start to have an idea as to why you’re doing what you do, and why you’re going to go the extra mile to meet those goals. Because goals aren’t achieved overnight.
They’re not supposed to be easy, but by setting yourself some goals and having an idea as to what it is that you’re going to achieve, you have a real solid reason for doing what you do and that gives you motivation to keep going.”
Like David, I’m a great believer in goal setting too. When we set goals, it actually engages a part of our brain called the reticular activating system (RAS) which performs a crucial role in maintaining behavioural arousal, consciousness and motivation.
So, we know goal setting is psychologically linked to things like motivation, but how do we actually go about setting goals? I asked David for his advice on this:
Write down your goals
David: “When you start thinking of your goals, it’s important that you are committing something to writing. The very fact that you have put something on paper means that you’ve thought about it, you’ve imagined it, and then you’ve had to think of the words to describe it.
This level of commitment means that you start to feel much more attached to the goal, and you will feel that you are letting yourself down by not achieving it.
Additionally, writing down your goals provides you with a timescale and a deadline for achieving your goals, which is great.
Whenever you write down a goal, be sure you are asking yourself questions like:
- By when do you want to achieve the goal?
- What is it going to be measured against?
- What does success look like when you’ve achieved your goal?
These questions will allow you to start to see your goal as something tangible. It could be a specific item that you want, an amount of money, maybe even a holiday. The important thing is that you are able to see, feel and almost touch it, so you know when you’ve actually achieved that goal.
So, writing down your goals is vital, but you need to go that step further and actually see your goals too.”
See, feel and touch your goals
David: “Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach® has a great quote:
‘Eyes only see and ears only hear what your brain is looking for.’
And it’s true! For example, let’s say you have a goal of owning a red Mini Cooper. You do your research and shop around, then suddenly you start to see red Mini Coopers everywhere!
It’s like a sixth sense. Your brain directs you to see what it is that you need to see to drive you towards that goal.
So, it’s absolutely vital you not only write down your goals, but have a way to see, feel and touch them too.
A great way to do this is to set up a vision board in your home. There are many ways you can do it but, essentially, it’s a pinboard on the wall, where you put up pictures of all the things you really want to achieve.
Every morning when you wake up, you can visualise yourself already having achieved your goal. Then, you start to think as though I HAVE got it – not that I WILL get it.”
David is absolutely right here. I remember having a picture of a Harley Davidson as a screensaver on my iPad. Whenever I opened it, I would see my goal right in front of me and that really permeated my brain!
(Though, another reason to have it as my screensaver was to keep my wife aware the Harley was coming!)
In a lot of David’s talks, he speaks about setting big, hairy, audacious goals and working towards achieving them. I wanted to find out his process for achieving those big goals a lot of us might consider “lifetime goals” or perhaps goals so big that they almost look impossible.
Achieving “lifetime goals” in a fraction of the time
David: “Firstly, I don’t think I would have achieved my lifetime goals without having a vision board and seeing pictures of them every single day. But not only that, I believe being able to see, feel and touch my goals enabled me to achieve them in a fraction of the time!
For example, I never thought I’d be able to have my dream car, yet alone within five years of setting it out as a goal. I thought maybe, at some point in my life, I might have it, but sometimes life is too short.
Sometimes you have to do things that you are fearful of in order to realise those big goals. When you’re nervous about something, you get excited and that’s the perfect chemistry – it means that you’re ready.”
So, it seems that goal setting won’t only help you achieve these big goals, but it can get you there in a fraction of the time too – that’s the madness of things!
In the past, I thought that some of my goals were far too big and there was no chance of them really happening, but that’s the wrong way to think.
Now I am in a position I never thought I’d be in, and it’s happened 10 years earlier too! That’s the power of writing these big goals down and making them as clear as possible.
However, setting out your goals is only one part of it. You’ve also got to take that step forward towards the goal, you can’t just sit around and wait.
I’ve heard David speak on a number of occasions, and another really interesting thing he talks about is “doing what you can’t”, which I love as a statement.
I asked him for a couple of examples of what he meant:
Do the things you can’t
David: “When you’re looking to set a big goal, straightaway your mind or people around you will say: ‘You can’t do that.’
From a very early age, teachers, parents, friends all say you should toe the line, but I think heck no! You should do what you want to in life but, unfortunately, in order to do that you’ve got to do what you can’t.
Fundamentally, it’s about fear, and the fears that we don’t face become our limit. So, if you want to grow as big as you can, you have to step through that boundary of fear in order to actually get there.
For me, that fear is great, it means something important is about to happen!
It’s easy to run from fear because we don’t like to go through the process of doing whatever it is we need to do to get through that, but living in fear means you can be stuck in that one place forever.
I believe that the best things in life are on the other side of fear, but you have to actually experience it to get to the other side.
So, don’t be afraid of writing down goals or thinking big, hairy, audacious goals and having a dream. Dreams are where all the good stuff comes from. It’s our reason for doing what we do. We all need to dream bigger, face that fear and go out there and do what we can’t.”
More to come next week!