How To Make Sharp And Clear Goals For Life
Commit to your fitness, finance, and life goals when you make this one change
“Often people will keep their goals fuzzy. One of the problems with specifying your goals means specifying your failures. Make your goals sharp and clear and you know what to aim at.” — Jordan Peterson
The American public school system has failed us.
Instead of producing critical thinkers, we’ve developed directionless zombies. It has a lot to do with our outdated industrialized approach to education meant to train children as factory workers. It’s the reason that so many kids feel directionless when they enter college. And I was one of these kids.
No major, goals, or life direction. I took pleasure in coasting through life and doing the bare minimum to get by. Moreover, no one ever stopped me to talk about goals or plans. After all, it’s not like you need “goals” to get into college — just a lot of money and average intelligence.
By the time I began my third year at college, I had to declare a major. In other words, at the age of 20, I now had to make a plan for my life.
A Message to Kids 18-years or Younger: You don’t want to end up like me. Find a mentor, a teacher, or a parent to steer you towards the core of your being. Yes, it’s easier said than done. But there are people in your life who will help you if they can sense your passion and honesty. It’s ok to make mistakes now. You’re young — you’re supposed to make mistakes! Do it now when the stakes or low.
A Message to Adults: An adult without any goals or life direction is far less sympathetic. It’s a painful truth. We likely know what we want. We know what our passion is. But instead of telling ourselves and the world the truth, we lie. We bury our truth to make ourselves feel more comfortable with the way things are.
Without any real goals put forth into the world, we don’t have anything to fail. And without anything to fail at, you can live in a pseudo-comfortability for the rest of your life.
Both of these scenarios are terrifying, but in truth, having no direction as an adult is a death sentence. Pink Floyd put it best in their prophetic song “Time.”
“You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun” — Pink Floyd
No one is coming to show you the way. If you don’t formulate goals and begin to hold yourself accountable, none of your ideas or dreams will ever come to fruition.
The Key Principle For Creating Goals
Deep down, most of us already know that goals work. The same way that Elon Musk or Bill Gates don’t walk around aimlessly until a brilliant idea strikes them. You can figure that you won’t wake up one morning with a sack of cash in your lap and washboard abs. That said, to become the person you want to be, we need to change the way we create goals.
When creating goals, whether it’s health, business, or whatever, you must confront the brutal truth. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to achieve this?”
The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
- Why do you want to start a business? Is it for money? Do you want to make an impact on the world? Is it because you know you’ll deliver the best product?
- Why do you want to finally get into shape? Is it so that you can look good in a swimsuit? Or maybe you want to live a long, healthier, and happier life?
Why do you want to achieve anything? If you can answer that question, getting up in the morning, eating right, and pursuing your goals won’t be a string of random activities. These activities will have a purpose driving them.
Aim high with these goals, make it something really worth striving for. As a struggling young actor, Jim Carrey used to visualize himself having made it; he even wrote a check out to himself for 10 million dollars. Carrey’s current net worth is 180 million dollars.
The Importance of Writing Your Goals
Whatever the final goal of this journey is, you must write it down. Don’t let your new-found goals float around with fatuous thoughts like, “I wonder if Starbucks still has the Pumpkin Spice Latte in season?” Or “Is that cute barista checking me out? Holy crap she’s seriously checking me out!”
In one recent study called “The Gender Gap and Goal-Setting,” people who very vividly described or wrote their goals were anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals
One participant said, “my goal is so vividly described in written form (including pictures, photos, drawings, etc.) that I could literally show it to other people and they would know exactly what I’m trying to achieve.”
If you aren’t writing down your goals, you’re not serious, and you’re wasting your time.
Heck, even God was yelling at people to write their goals down in the Bible…
“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the LORD replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”
The Science of Incremental Progress (And Final Thoughts)
Ok, so you wrote down: “Get a six-pack by the end of the year or get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.” Whatever the goal may be, keep your goal visible and within reach. This is your point of success, but it’ll also serve as a point of failure if this goal isn’t met. How do you avoid failure? By breaking the goal down.
Every single day should be centered around tasks and activities that will bring you closer to your goal. Today, we call this a schedule.
Now, don’t BS yourself by creating a schedule that is impossible to adhere to. Start slow and add a few activities to your schedule that you know you can accomplish.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour,” as author James Clear so aptly describes incremental progress.
Do you want those six-pack abs? Ok, let’s write down a plan. First, after breakfast, you’re going to do five-minutes of abdominal exercises and then after work, you will go on a one-hour walk.
Every day should be supercharged with meaning if you schedule out a few tasks that will bring you closer to your goal. Moreover, the Harvard Business Review found that even incremental progress can increase people’s happiness and productivity.
You likely won’t see immediate results from anything you do on the first day. But if you keep coming back, if you remember why you’re attacking this goal, you will dominate what you’re chasing after.
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