‘Triple YES’ rule for setting sound goals

Every journey starts with the first step.

Journey towards any goal you set, begins with a decision.

Outcome — will you reach the goal or not — depends greatly on the quality of that decision. If the decision is set on sound foundation, you have a much greater chance of attaining the goal you set.

Life consists of many goals. We determine and choose all kinds of goals on daily basis. Some are capital, life changing; others are ordinary, everyday goals, those that get us through the day.

The simple ‘triple yes’ rule

I came across this rule accidentally a few years ago. Like many, I had been completely unaware of how much my goals were missplaced and unrealistic. I had many goals which predominantly depended on others, or on circumstances that I could not control or influence.

‘Triple yes’ rule gave my goals a backbone, a framework to work with. As a result, decisions behind my goals got much clearer.

So here goes.

The ‘triple yes’ rule consists of three questions. If you want your goal to be attainable, all three need to be answered with a ‘yes’.

Whether your goals are directed at accomplishing something in your personal life, relationships, profession or something else, filtering goals through these 3 simple questions can help you determine if you are more or less likely to achieve your goal.

  1. Does achieving the goal I set depend primarily on me?

Odds of achieving any goal you set is inversely proportional to extent to which the goal depends on you.

The more the goal depends on you, the greater are the chances of you achieving that goal.

The more your goal depends on other people, less are the chances of you achieving that goal.

In other words, try to only set goals that depend on you — meaning — achieving that goal requires your actions, or changes you have to make.

If your goal depends on changing someone else or on someone else’s actions, you’re probably setting yourself up for a failure.

2. Does my goal include a change that is under my control?

First rule teaches you to set goals that depend on you instead of others.

Second rule teaches you that the input/change/action must be under your control.

Not everything about us is changeable, even if it is under our control. There are many things that depend mostly on us, but are really not (or not entirely) under our control.

For instance, some personal traits are theoretically changeable, but it is highly unlikely you will change from one side of spectrum to another. If you’re usually sloppy, it is unrealistic to expect you will become meticulous any time soon. If you are an introvert by nature, it is unlikely you will become extroverted over night.

3. Is my goal realistic?

Even if a goal depends mostly on you and assumes action or change which is under your control, you won’t get very far if the change you need to undergo, or actions you have to undertake, are unlikely for any reason.

Some examples…

Let’s say someone sets a goal such as: ‘I want everyone to like me’. Achievement of this goal depends much more on others than on the person who set this goal. It is also unrealistic to expect to be liked by ‘everyone’.

Transformed to a ‘triple yes rule’ compliant goal, it might sound like: ‘I do want to get along and socialise with people, but if some of them don’t like me, I will accept it as it is.’

‘I want a promotion’ — sounds like a nice, normal goal. But, it depends much more on company policy and whims of superiors than on the person wanting the promotion. It fails on both question 1 and 2.

Transformed to a ‘triple yes’ rule compliant goal, it might sound like: ‘I will do my best to do a great job and to be a valuable asset to the company. If I fail to get promoted, I will look at other options available for my advancement.’

Dreams vs goals

It is sometimes difficult to differentiate unrealistic goals from dreams. The difference between the two, in my opinion, is perception and commitment.

If you think it would be nice to make a million $, but you don’t have even the vaguest idea where the money should come from or what you might do to achieve that goal, it’s not a goal — it’s a dream. Some goals, usually huge ones, resemble more to dreams than goals.

This doesn’t in any way mean that dreaming is bad. Dreams are often like a large bowl of idea soup — from which we feed, and draw goals.

Dreams are important. Heck, they are the stuff of life.

But if you want to convert the dream to reality,
you have to accept the ‘triple yes’ mentality.

(Good thing it rhymes. Should be catchy enough to remember.)

Break the dream into small sets of goals, each compliant with the ‘triple yes’ rule.

Adopt flexibility. If the road you have chosen brings you to a full stop, take another road, instead of burrying yourself in belief that there is only one road to your goal.

Why adopt the triple yes mindset

I like to look at the ‘triple yes’ rule more as a mindset instead of a rule (if we define a rule as something we have to apply consciously, and mindset as something we apply automatically).

If you choose your goals wisely, you are more likely to have more achieved goals. As a result, you’ll feel that you’ve accomplished more, even if your output is the same as it would’ve been if you set your goals less efficiently. In return, it will make you feel more confident and self reliant. You will also spare yourself some head and heartache of pursuing unattainable goals.

If you’ve found this piece informative or helpful, please give it some 👏 , or write a response. Your feedback inspires me to keep sharing what I learn, and to keep writing.