How To Set Goals For Yourself

Nov 11, 2021

How to set goals for yourself and, more importantly, how to stick to them, is a challenge as old as time.

A Very Old Story

Imagine; you're sitting in the entrance to the cave with your fellow hunters contemplating the day ahead. The sun is slowly rising and your bones are starting to thaw as you look out on the empty plain! You are chatting about how much shorter the daylight hours seem to be. Yesterday you only got as far as the river before the sun was directly overhead and it was appropriate to think about turning around.

In that moment, you realise you probably need to think about how you can get to the river quicker to give you a longer opportunity to kill your dinner. You hatch a plan between you and set off to achieve your daily task in a slightly less haphazard way. Today, you have a plan. You have divided up some fo the tasks in a different way and you've even thought about sequencing things.

On the way back you talk about what went well and how you could do it even better tomorrow.

 The first Goal had been set.

Fast forward a few thousand years and some people are still struggling to get the most out of this essential process. This short blog will help.

Why Setting Goals Is Important

With the advancement in knowledge of neuro-science and quantum physics, it is tempting to think we don't need goals any more. If we can make things happen through our thoughts and we can learn to accept and be grateful for what we have - why set goals for more?

First of all, there is a fundamental misunderstanding here. Believing you can attract everything you need means two things;

  1. Being clear on what it is you want to manifest AND
  2. Working for it with the belief your results will come.

It is not about imagining something and then sitting around waiting for it to happen. It's like the old adage that you need to at least buy a lottery ticket if you want to win the jackpot.

However, goals are about so much more than acquiring things. Goals can be about personal development, accessing different skills, learning new information.

We can attach goals to significant life events, different experiences and exciting journeys.

The Energy For Life

By far the biggest benefit of setting goals is the life energy it provides. Having significant goals you want to achieve or waiting for the world to give you something can be the difference between bounding out of bed in the morning and burying yourself under the duvet.

Some goals take a long time to achieve and there will always be peaks and troughs in your desire to keep going. Having a goal that excites you in terms of the potential outcome can be all the tonic you need.

Sometimes the energy comes from somewhere else. Sometimes, it is the process of pursuing a goal that drives you more than the eventual achievement of it. Think about this next time you are going after something. How can you liven up the process and fall in love with the journey?


When we set goals and share them, either through our deeds or though talking to people about them, we invite serendipity into our lives.

If you pick up nothing else from this blog, remember this. START.

When we start out on any venture we will meet challenges, questions will arise, our curiosity will be peaked. All this means we'll be tempted to talk to other people. And that's when the magic happens. As soon as we decide on a goal and share it, we "bump into" people that have ideas, insights and opportunities for us to move forward.

Sharing your goals, is like drawing a large circle around you. It will overlap other people's circles and the intersection is called Serendipity. But you need to draw the circle first or their circle may just float on by.

How to set goals

Now we've established a couple of reasons why it might make sense to set some goals let me share a process I have used for many years and taught to thousands of others across the globe. It's called the CARWASH.


Big goals can be daunting and, frankly overwhelming. Chunk them down. Go as small as you need to identify a very simple first step and you'll be off! Remember START is the most important feature of goals.

A big ASK

Anything less than a stretch is probably no more than a task. It's not going to motivate you to action for long and may even fail to stir you to get started. Go as BIG as you like, you can always chunk it down.


I use a process I call the 3i's. Imagine three eyes looking in different directions giving you sight of all the data you need.

Foresight - Before you start, draw on your memory and search for information that may help you get started. What experience do I have?

Insight - When you are in the middle of your journey, keep stopping to gain some insight. What do I know now that I didn't anticipate/know when I started?

Hindsight - Always look back at what you did with curiosity. What did I learn? What would I do differently next time.


More magic for you. The process of writing down a goal seems to improve the chances of it happening exponentially. I wrote down some goals in 1992 and promptly lost the list. I rediscovered it in 2000 when I moved house and discovered I had completed 13 of the 14 things on the list!!!


Get some leverage. Building in accountability is a great way of doing this. How can you hold yourself to account? How can you share your goal in ways that encourage others to support you and boost you when you inevitably tire?


This is your energy booster. A finishing line is helpful and so are a set of milestones along the way. The combination of the two provides a feedback loop that will keep you focused.


This is the big "watch-out" in this process. Raise your self awareness and listen out when you hear yourself rationalising about why you are not doing something. Is it just rational-lies? If so, give yourself a good talking to and march on!

And Finally

Motivation is key when you are considering a goal. Make sure you're asking yourself the right question.

WRONG QUESTION - Is it attainable?

RIGHT QUESTION - Is it worth my time and effort?

You definitely won't know the 100% accurate answer to the wrong question but if you answer the right question affirmatively, it no longer matters if it is achievable - you're setting that goal anyway!

For more on the CARWASH, goalsetting and a host of other tools and techniques to help you get the most out of every day and balance your life on your terms, grab my new book - Dynamic Time Management.


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