How Are Your Goals Then?

As we approach Christmas and New Years it’s really that time of year again that we need to be reviewing our goals, and planning our expectations and goals for 2016.

The end of one year and the start of a New Year is as good a time as any to review your current Goals and to set new ones.

Two years ago I wrote two great blogs on goal setting. Here I’ve updated those thoughts, combined into a very thorough analysis of the goal setting process and its benefits.

Remember that it doesn’t have to be the start of a New Year for you to set new goals. You don’t need to wait for the end of one year, or the beginning of another, before you begin to update your goals list.

Goals can be set at any time. And they become effective from the moment they are created, provided you do just that…you create them.

And create them well.

Because a poorly created goal becomes just a wish, or even worse, an idea only….

And as wishes or ideas, they are less likely to be seen through, less likely to be acted upon and less likely to be of inspiration than would a fully fledged written down, thought out and crafted goal.


So, what’s the best way of going about setting goals?

Firstly, I’d like to say, there is no *best* way.

But there needs to be some way.

There needs to be some purpose, or definition, to the task of setting goals.

A goal, on its own, can be created at any time.

An idea that just pops into your head can be acted upon, categorized, and remembered to become of such worth and such intent at a later date.

So never discount or discard a thought or inspiration just because you aren’t officially at “goal-setting time”.

Having said that, I think allocating and marking off a specific time duration in advance, and keeping that “appointment” with yourself, is the best way to go about setting goals.

So what do you do David?

This is how I go about setting goals. It’s my way of doing it. It’s not *the* way, but it is a good way.

Firstly, I tell myself that I need to set my goals.

I need to set myself the task of setting goals.

Once I’m comfortable with that action requirement, I then choose myself a day and a time of day to do it.

It’s like making a doctors appointment. You know you need to go see the doctor, so you make the decision. Then you think to yourself, what would be the best day for me to see the doctor? And would mornings or afternoons work best for me?

Allocating goal setting time is much the same.

I also leave my goal setting time open ended. I don’t back up another task, like lawn mowing, or dinner cooking, right on top of the goal setting.

Because of this, I feel that mornings after breakfast is the best time for me to sit down and set my goals.

Goals, by definition, need to be written down.

This is a Golden Rule.

A goal must be written down to truly be a goal. Otherwise it’s only a wish. A dream. An idea. A concept.

So you need pen and paper. Or something to record your goals.

I use pen and paper. I like to scribble. I like to write them. I like to expand on them.

I like using system cards. 3×5 system cards. The reason being, as I write, I tend to want to categorise my goals. So I tend to jump around a bit.

Using system cards allow me to write down a goal, or a plan, and then expand upon it by adding another thought to another card, and then arranging those plans and thoughts into their appropriate positions within a framework of other plans, thoughts and goals, all written down.

At the end of my goal setting session, I then have a stack of 3×5 system cards in a generalized order that then becomes my list of goals.

I like to use cards of different and many colours, though I’m not regimental in sticking religiously to the colours.

I just like to use a different colour for a different idea, or sub-goal, if you would call it that.

Choose a nice place to write your goals

Create a comfortable environment.

You have a purpose, so your environment needs to facilitate that purpose.

Some choose a quiet room.

Others choose a comfortable chair.

Some prefer an inspirational view.

Others prefer no view. A view to them is a distraction.

Work with what’s best for you.

For me, I like to be looking outdoors.

Sometimes at a desk. Sometimes in a comfortable chair. It’s horses for courses.

Last time I set goals I chose the kitchen bench at the farm.

Start with a list of categories.

The best way to begin a goal setting session is to start with a list of categories.

I’ll write a few categories on a few different 3×5 cards, just as headings, just to get the thought juices going.

Once I’ve got a list started, then I’ll return to one of those categories, and get started in earnest on the goals list for that category.

Your list of categories does not need to be complete before you start writing goals.

It can be a list of one. Or two. It just needs to be a category.

Then you can start expanding on that category title.

Here’s some of the list of categories that I created last time I set my goals…


UPE Business.



Books to read.

Write a book.



House plans.

[You know I succeeded in writing that book.]

Now I didn’t create the whole list holus bolus first up.

I think I started with Family, travel, health and UPE…

And as I worked on each category, I created others and jumped around, from idea to idea, card to card, new card to old card…

Do you try to block out all other non-goal thoughts while you’re setting goals?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I get so focused on the task of goal setting, it’s like I’m driving at high speed down a straight one-lane highway…

At other times, and this is what happened last time, because I had another creative task to work on, I ran that task in tandem, with it’s own set of system cards as well.

So I jumped from goal setting across to the second task and back, as the creative juices flowed.

[I’m happy to say both tasks, the goal-setting and the second task, advanced well using this method …. but that’s not always the case]

For some people working on two things at once may be a difficult concept. If that’s you, then I’d stick to just straight goal setting.

How long should goal setting take?

You’ll know when it’s time to wrap it up.

But like I said before, you don’t want to programme an end time, with another task to follow right on top.

I find it’s best just to let the time for goal setting to run its course..

So I’ve got my list of goals David, what now?

The next thing you need to do is allocate a date for completion to each goal.

Because a goal without a date attached is only a dream.

It’s not a mission.

Add a date. Set a date. Make it a true goal. Make it a mission.

Once you’ve assigned your completion dates, then you can go about prioritising your tasks for each goal, and organising which tasks you’ll do when.

Some goals may have distant completion dates, but need action taken sooner rather than later.

Other goals may be short term, but can be put aside for a short while to be begun at a time closer to their completion date.

This is where using the system cards allows us to “lay out” our plans and create our time line.

It’s important at this point to look at your time line, and look for balance.

Your goal list should be a balanced mixture of short term, medium term and longer term goals.

With an emphasis on shorter term for two reasons.

A list lacking in short term goals never gets started. It gets put off. And put off.

Distant goals become dreams, and then ideas, sadly. Someday ideas.

Someday is not a great date to complete a goal. It’s an even lousier day to start a goal.

The second reason for having short-term goals is it creates some success momentum early in the process of achieving goals.

Weight loss goals, finance goals, and fitness goals, though longer term, can be broken down into shorter term accomplishments to be celebrated along the way, along the journey…

It sounds complicated David

If goal setting were easy everybody would do it.

But most people don’t.

And there’s the secret. Because it’s been proven that goal setters are higher achievers than those who do not set goals.

And that’s your choice.

So if you want to be successful, or more successful, you need to set goals.

Do I really need goals?

No one really needs goals.

But goals, and having goals, adds purpose.

So you work it out…. if you want purpose in your life, in your work life, in your family life, in your health, and in your fitness, and in your finances, do you think having goals is maybe a good idea?

So when should I start setting goals?

How about today?

How about now?

How do I use my goals, David?

So you have your goal list now?

Let’s talk about the use of a goal list and the process of reviewing that list. And the benefits of reviewing that list.

I’ve mentioned many times, that at a meeting of exceptional and high achieving dentists held in Australia in May 2011, Dr Omer Reed stated that in the USA, ninety five percent of dentists will not have reached their own Independence Day by age sixty-five.

He defined Independence Day as being that day in a person’s life where they can literally walk away from what they are doing for a living knowing full well that they have the ongoing income and investments to maintain the lifestyle and choices they so desire.

Sadly this means that at age sixty-five, only five percent of dentists are able to walk away from their drills, if they so desire. Ninety five percent of dentists at age sixty-five are still working because they have to.

This means that really nineteen out of every twenty dentists are doing it wrong when it comes to planning and achieving a great lifestyle in requirement.

So what’s this got to do with goals, David?

Studies have shown the benefits of goal setting.

Only three percent of the population set goals and review their goals.

Yet studies show that that three percent of the population achieves dramatic success and substantial wealth far more than the remaining ninety seven percent of the population who do not seriously set and review goals.

Do you think there may be a correlation and points of commonality between the five percent of dentists who reach Independence Day, and the three percent of the population who set and review their goals?

[Oh and by the way, insurance industry statistics will show you that across the board, ninety five percent of the general population are either dead or still working or reliant on assistance at age sixty-five]

So back to goals….

Before we discuss the reviewing of your goals, I’d like to clarify and define my meaning of the word *Goal*.

An online dental chat forum discussing goals drifted around what I believe needed to be a true definition of what a Goal really should be.

Let me explain.

Some of the items that some of the dentists called goals, I call to-do items.

And there is a difference.

To me a goal should be difficult to achieve. A challenge. A challenge to get there. A difficult process.

I don’t believe a visit to Disney fits the description of being a true goal. I think it’s something you should do. It’s something you can do any time. But a true goal?

I really think that it is not a goal as such, but a to-do item.

Maybe it is a bucket list item?

So maybe we need to differentiate between goals, bucket list items, and to-do list items…

The way I see it, goals are pretty well out there. They are things that you want to achieve, but you don’t know whether you can or not.

Goals are things that challenge us in achieving them. That stretch us. That require commitment and discipline to achieve them. Discipline of action. Discipline of purpose.

That being said, there probably is a small grey area of overlap between one person’s goal and another person’s bucket list.

But not that much overlap.

I think in travel there may be some overlap.

Like visiting somewhere exotic. Like the top of the Eifel Tower.

Is that a goal? Or a bucket list item?

As a golfer, I always wanted to play golf on St Andrews.

The Old Course. The home of golf.

I’m not sure if it was ever a goal as such.

It was certainly a bucket list item.

The reason being there is a definite process of getting a game of golf there. It is achievable and doable. It just requires planning.

I’ve visited Scotland four times. I’ve played golf at St Andrews, on the Old Course, four times.

Was it something that challenged me in achieving? Did it stretch me? Did it require commitment and discipline to achieve? Discipline of action? Discipline of purpose?

Maybe in the early days, it did require a commitment…

Maybe in the early days, travel items are a cross between goals and bucket list.

It’s definitely a goal if you look at it every day and ask the question of yourself, “What do I need to do today to move me closer to getting a game of golf on St Andrews?”

But because it is a definite process, and a process available to everyone who can play golf, getting a game on the Old Course soon becomes a bucket list item.

So back to goals, really!

It’s been said that goals need to be smart. Smart goals.

S. M. A. R. T. Smart!

Specific: Exactly what, where, how.

Measurable: A measurement gives feedback along the way, and let’s you know when the goal has been met.

Achievable: Goals are achievable. A stretch, but can be done.

Relevant: Goals are relevant to you and who you are. Not whimsically unrelated.

Time Based: What time frame is required? Set specific dates for the completion of relevant tasks to achieve the goal.

Using the goal list

For a goal list to be successful it needs to be reviewed regularly.

Viewed and read.

Images need to be seen. Regularly.

Words, numbers and descriptions need to be read. And can be heard. Or can be listened to.

And there is no negotiation here.


Or even better, multiple times per day.

The more times that goals are reviewed and presented front of mind, the more they become more relevant, more specific, more achievable and more measurable.

Out of sight, out of mind, is the antithesis of purposeful goal setting.

Goals must be reviewed.

Someday is not an option for reviewing goals.

Reviewing is a must do.

It makes sense to be specific with your goals and to review and visit them on a regular basis. And to report and record what you have done to progress you toward your goals as well as regularly reviewing your list of goals…

Reviewing goals is a non-negotiable requirement in successfully achieving goals.

We know goals work…

Are you going to create your goal list?


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