I’m a big believer in setting goals.
I’ve been following a system I created for myself in 1989. It’s worked dramatically for me, and it’s worked dramatically for others.
I’d like to share it: I promise it can work for you…
Why 90 Days?
When I first started setting goals, I’d set six-month goals. But I discovered I didn’t start working on them until I had 90 days left: I’d procrastinate.
Procrastination is the killer of all goal setting. You have to set a goal with a time limit that causes you to take action today.
I picked 90 days because I wanted to give myself enough time to accomplish something, but not so much time that I’d procrastinate.
Don’t make a goal so far out that it doesn’t affect your behavior today. You need a goal that makes you start now.
How To Start
The key to setting a goal for anything is to make them time-bound, measurable and written.
The vast majority of people who make goals fail to give themselves a deadline, and they fail to write them down. But, according to Stanford’s executive program, 90% of high-performing people:
• set specific goals—with outcomes,
• set a deadline for their goals, and
• write them down.
I set my goals at the beginning of each quarter. I set three personal and three professional goals.
First, Set Three Personal Goals
When I say personal, I mean personal. They’re just for me: I don’t share them with anyone.
I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. I’m trying to push myself to get better. I want to make myself reach new heights.
Most of our lives, we’re told what we can’t do and what we can’t become. We get a lid placed over our self-belief and our aspirations.
But successful people won’t accept that. They push themselves beyond what others tell them they can’t accomplish.
When I set these personal goals, I ask myself this question:
“What can I accomplish over the next 90 days that will make me feel good about myself?”
I really believe this is important: You must set goals that help you feel good about yourself. Aim to lift yourself and your expectations.
Why? When you feel good about yourself, you act differently, and you carry yourself differently. This creates a personal feedback loop that changes you.
Then, Set Three Professional Goals
The second set of goals is focused on identifying what I can achieve that has an impact on my business.
In contrast to my personal goals, these three time-bound, measurable goals are shared with my boss and with those I serve. I ask my boss and my team how they’d feel if I were to achieve the goals over the next 90 days.
Most times they feel good about my choices, but at times I get great feedback about the goals. This helps me hone and focus them.
The beauty of getting feedback is that it helps me sharpen the goals before I’ve even started work on them.
And Finalize Your Goals
Now that I have my six goals—three personal, three professional—there are three steps I follow.
First, set the goals aside for a day.
Second, come back and read each one, asking myself if I’d be proud of myself to achieve the goal.
At this point I may tweak the goal to aim a little higher. Not massively, but enough to affect me. Push yourself as high as you can go. The goals don’t have to be huge. They can be small steps to achieve—so long as they stretch you.
(Remember: You’re not setting these goals to make others proud. You’re doing this to make yourself proud. Once you realize this, it’s like a breakthrough in your mind.)
Third, make these goals your highest priority. Schedule action items for each goal. They’re appointments you cannot break.
For example, if your goal is to exercise more, and you schedule your exercise at 7am every Wednesday morning, then that appointment has to be your highest priority: It doesn’t get rescheduled or moved down the priority list.
Treat it as if it’s the most important meeting of the day, because it is. You are important and you need to treat yourself as important.
Do all this, and you’ll do things you never dreamt possible.
Time To Reach Higher
At the end of 90 days, you’ll have done something you’re proud of.
And you’ll realize you can do more. You’ll expect more of yourself, as will others. You’re on your way.
This is a system, but more importantly it’s a change in mindset.
But it’s not a failure if you don’t achieve all six. In fact, the first time I did this, I hit four of the six goals. But I was ecstatic: I’d aimed at something and made tremendous progress. Then came the realization that I could aim higher.
So every quarter I started to shoot higher.
The Bottom Line
I define my goals, I have a target to aim at, I write down and commit to my goals.
For more than 20 years this system has worked for me. Many high-caliber professionals have adopted this system and found success—they’ve contacted me over the years to say so.
I promise it can work for you. It changed my life and it can change yours.