Setting the Right Kind of Goals

How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve is an article about setting goals, but it dismisses the idea of SMART goals.

It addresses time differently from the way most people think of it. I think that even if you don’t agree with the idea that only the present moment exists, it is a useful exercise to sit down for a few minutes and ask yourself, “What would improve the quality of my life right now if it were true?”

I took out an index card, wrote the question at the top, and came up with the following list:

  • Working backup system for media and data
  • LCD instead of CRT for home office
  • Replace dead lightbulbs in kitchen and bathroom
  • Repair kitchen sink stopper
  • New shoes for exercising
  • Fix car’s turn signal
  • Fix car’s suspension
  • Fix car’s engine light

What this list tells you other than the fact that my car is badly broken is that I now have some results that I would like to have in my life. My original backup system had a hard drive failure months ago, and I still haven’t replaced it. It would be nicer on my eyes to have an LCD instead of a CRT monitor. I lost a few lights in my kitchen and bathroom, and replacing them would sure make the place brighter. The kitchen sink stopper just broke apart one day, and now food can too easily get down the drain. My shoes were really in need of replacement.

So what can I do with such a list? Well, I can make goals from them. “Buy new gym shoes by end of November” and “Plan budget for backup system by end of week” are examples of the kinds of goals I can create.

One other thing the article mentions is that your mindset is important. I put off repairing my car because I kept thinking about the expense and hassle of taking time to bring it in to a mechanic. I thought about how much I hated shoe shopping because I can never find simple shoes. They always have to have some widgets or air cushions or something. When you think about how difficult or arduous something will be, it will be. On the other hand, if you can envision how it will make you feel to have the outcome right now, how motivated it makes you, then you have yourself a good goal. New shoes meant that I no longer had to worry about the old ones falling apart. I wouldn’t need to worry about a shoe slipping and twisting an ankle. Fixing my car would mean no longer worrying about my car. I would be able to drive it without concerning myself with a broken turn signal or failing an emissions test. I could drive it with confidence. Even though I hated shopping for shoes, I went out and got two pairs. My feet feel great, and I also have the peace of mind that my shoes won’t wear down as quickly since I have another pair as backup.

And what about bigger goals? You can set them as large as you want. If it motivates you, if it inspires you, then it is obviously worth it to set that goal.

What would improve the quality of your life right now if it were true? Does it inspire you? Then make it a goal, and go achieve it!

2 comments to Setting the Right Kind of Goals

  • I haven’t read that article yet (in fact I think Steve Pavlina is a fruitcake, as “in nutty as…” however I did think at one time he had good ideas) — but there are some things you can’t really do. I would like new shoes too, and some other things but I literally don’t have the money. Half the time it is just about the money too.

  • Money is just a means to move wealth around. You have a few options: give up on your goals, find a way to get your goals without money, or find a way to get more money.

    Having money is obviously preferrable to not having money when you are trying to accomplish your goals, but you can’t let the lack of it stop you from trying.

    But the point of the exercise isn’t to do just the things you can accomplish. What if you wanted to do something huge, something that you can’t accomplish in your life right now? It doesn’t have to be materialistic. The idea is that you identify what you want so that your goals can be defined in a way that actually coincides with your desires.

    Whether you want to become wealthy or fight poverty, you can’t get close to accomplishing your goals if you don’t realize that it is something to work towards.

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