Tips On Setting Goals: Plan For Success Part 1

Last Update: February 06, 2021

This post might seem like a bit of a ramble in places. Be warned; there is a point or two to my rambling which sets the scene for the main point on the often written tips on setting goals.

I’m The Boss Of Me...

Believe it or not, I am the centre of my own universe and you are the centre of yours. Everyone is the centre of their own universe. This is not a spiritual statement nor anything to do with being self-centred. It reflects the way my brain (and I believe your brain) perceives its relationship with all that we are aware of.

While at the centre of my universe, I have complete control over my own thoughts, decisions and most actions. I have responsibility for those thoughts, decisions and actions but no control over anything else.

So just imagine... we all live at the centre of our very own invisible circle of direct control. The further we venture from the centre, the less control we are able to assert.

I can influence others through my actions just as others can influence me. Beyond our circle of direct control, exists a larger, surrounding circle of influence. The further we move away from the centre, the less control and influence we are able to assert until eventually at the outer edges we realise we have no control and no direct influence at all.

However, most of us are in the habit of setting goals beyond the outer edges of our direct influence.

(Note: of course we have no inherent right to be part of anyone else's universe; so most times it is an honour and a privilege to be included in someone else's universe at whatever level. The point where our circles of influence overlap is where we share something of each others universe.)

Humans Are A Goal Seeking Species

Humans are a goal-seeking species. Dr Matthew Maltz of ’Psycho-Cybernetics’ fame stated that the subconscious mind is like an automatic goal-seeking mechanism guided by our mindset combined with whatever it perceives as our (conscious) goals. Most of us love to set big goals...

Sorry... this is a short detour...

Obviously, the subconscious does no conscious thinking although it is the source of many conscious thoughts. It works like a computer... Feed it with garbage and that is what it feeds back to our consciousness. Feed it with negativity and doubt and that is what it feeds back. Feed it with the desire for outcomes outside our direct control and influence and that is what it strives for.

Alternatively, feed it with love, optimism, enthusiasm e.t.c. and that is what it feeds back.

(A challenge for most of us, is that we don’t often notice the tone or emotion of what we are thinking.) Anyway...

Our subconscious mind applies no judgement; it accepts whatever we give it, applies a little logic based on our mindset, and returns the result often at seemingly random times. Our subconscious minds are capable of playing havoc with conscious thoughts. This is why it is so important to learn as much as possible about our own minds and how they work. It is why we each need to take great care over what we consciously feed our subconscious minds.

Now Back to the main point...

Most of us set goals over which we have no real control. That’s ok for the medium to huge aspirations that we have. So long as we know why we want what we decide we want, such 'outcome goals' can be motivating. Understanding why we want something triggers an emotional reaction towards it. But however motivating our outcome goals are, great care is needed when setting smaller goals designed to move us in the direction of our larger aspirational outcomes.

Rather than constantly focusing on our ’outcome goals’, day to day goals are best set as ’action-oriented goals’.

Outcome & Action-Oriented Goals

In the world of sales, as an example, we tend to set outcome goals. An outcome might be to earn $2000 next month or perhaps earn $50000 next year. We mostly have no control and very little direct influence over such goals which are heavily influenced by too many variables that are outside of our control.

It is far better to set goals over which we have control or at worst a large amount of influence. For instance, in the above example of earning $2000 per month, we can estimate how many customers we need and how many items we need to sell, at a particular price. However, these are still outcome goals over which we have no direct control.

What we do have control over is our own activities. So planning and carrying out specific, measurable, achievable, resourced (with our own time), and timely, (SMART) actions, are the key to achieving our business outcome goals. This means setting daily, weekly and perhaps monthly targets for specific actions such as the number of phone calls to make, the number of blog articles to write and post, the number of forum comments to make, the number of adverts to place e.t.c.

In Summary

  • As a natural goal striving species, we humans tend to set outcome goals over which we have no direct control;
  • Such outcome goals may seem unreasonable, however as George Bernard Shaw said: "All progress depends on the unreasonable man.";
  • So long as we have a well-formed understanding of why such a goal is the ideal for us, the resultant emotional reaction can be highly motivational;
  • The key to achieving our outcome goals is to set SMART 'action-oriented goals' that we have control over and that we can focus on every day. We should design our action-oriented goals such that they are specific, measurable, achievable, resourced with our own time, and carried out at the right time.

Personally, Right now, my main action-oriented goals are to write 4 articles (blog posts) per week and to continue working through one lesson per day in the WA training (I admit I'm a little behind on both but will catch up this month).

What are your action-oriented goals?

When you've figured that out, I suggest you move on to part 2.

If you like this post, please click the green button. If you are up for it, tell us what your action-oriented goals are in the comments.

Thanks for reading...

To your success


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APersinger Premium
Goal setting and following through is my weak link in business. I seem to have no problem working myself to death at my regular job, but cannot seem to figure out how to do those two things in my own business. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this topic.
richardgb Premium
It’s great to see you taking action... Reading posts when you say you will (many don’t follow through). Thank you
Roybretton Premium Plus
Hello Richard,

Thank you for your excellent post on goals, very interesting indeed.

I have an off-line business and online business, I find it much easier to set goals for the off-line business as I feel I have a bit more control over things. For example, with an online business we don't know how a particular post will do, or will people find our post at all.

I guess we have to look at it as an overall picture. My goal last year was to write four blog posts a week and include an embedded YouTube video in each post. This worked well until my off-line business became extremely busy, it is quite seasonal. I'm now back on track again.

This year I aim to find a writer to assist me, this may be easier said than done. I'm also going to write some goals down in my diary and some predictions for my primary website.

Have a great day and thank you.

richardgb Premium
Hi Roy, since most offline businesses have far greater financial risks associated with them than online, I think it is easier to focus offline. In general, there is more to lose and less room for manoeuvre .. i.e. It is easier to make decisions offline because the perceived number of options are less.
Thanks fir your positive comments.
Roybretton Premium Plus
Hello Richard,

Yes, I understand what you're saying, I can relate to that as I have put much more money into my off-line business that I have my online business.

Wishing you all the best.

Palatia Premium Plus
This is great, Richard. I love the 'actionable' short term goals. It makes sense when you put it that way. I think I have more short term goals (actionable) than long term goals. I need to work on that. Thanks for the great post.

richardgb Premium
Hi Paula. Thanks for responding. Having more actionable goals than outcome goals is exactly the way it should be!
Best wishes
Dorrie1 Premium Plus
Great post and great points
richardgb Premium
Thank you Dorrie for your kind words.