We all know that setting goals is an important part of driving our productivity and progress—but how many of us think clearly about what we want to achieve over the course of our lives and lay out the steps we need to accomplish to make that happen?
Life coach Tony Robbins knows how to get the best out of his clients. He’s set out the following process that will help you not only identify your goals and make a plan for how to achieve them—it will also help you get clarity on how these goals will impact your life in the long term.
When you’re old and grey and sitting in your rocking chair reflection over your life, what kind of life do you want to see behind you?
Figure out how to get there by following this goal-setting process.
It might sound obvious, but the first step to setting compelling goals is identifying what your goals are.
Get specific. What do you really want?
“Something almost magical happens when you take generalised desires and start defining them more precisely through detailed goal-setting,” says Tony Robbins.
Then, you need to identify your purpose. This is the ‘why’ behind the goal: why do you want to achieve this? What benefit will it bring to your life?
Having a compelling ‘why’ results in a compelling goal that you will be much more likely to achieve.
Next you should make sure you’re clear on the difference between short-term goals, long-term goals and lifetime goals.
Short-term goals can typically be achieved in less than a year. These goals are ‘enablers’; achieving them will make it possible for you to progress towards accomplishing your longer-term goals. Eg, getting a promotion or losing 5 stone.
Long-term goals generally take years to achieve rather than just months and involve more of a life change than short-term goals. Eg, owning your own business or getting an advanced degree.
Lifetime goals involve more of a significant life change. These are the things you want to accomplish over the span of your life. Examples of lifetime goals could be retiring early to travel the world, or having and supporting a big family. These types of goals involve setting what Tony calls ‘capstone goals’: smaller incremental goals that will contribute towards the bigger goal, such as putting a certain amount of money away every year in order to be able to retire early.
We’ve covered setting SMART goals extensively in this post, but the infographic below provides a good overview on how to make sure your goals are SMART.
Now that you know what kinds of goals you want to set, it’s time to follow Tony’s five steps to goal setting.
Set a timer for six minutes and write down everything you can think of that you’d like to achieve, create, do, have, give and/or experience in the next 20 years. Write down as many goals as you can think of in six minutes.
Set the timer for 90 seconds and go through the list, writing 1, 3, 5, 10 or 20 depending on how long you think the goal would take to achieve. Be realistic!
Set the timer for 15 minutes. Review your list and choose your top four one-year goals, the ones that make you really excited. Write a paragraph on each outlining why you absolutely must achieve this goal in the next year. Mind the timer!
Share these goals with a family member, friend or colleague to make them real. If they’re private or you’re not ready to share them just yet, repeat them out loud to yourself. The act of speaking them helps to make them less of a concept and more of a reality.
The last step is to write your goals where you’ll see them daily (think: post-it note on bathroom mirror, or phone or desktop wallpaper).
Write down and take at least one action towards making these goals a reality, then it’s time for Tony’s rocking chair test:
“Visualise yourself older and looking back,” Tony says. “What’s the pain from not achieving, and what is the pleasure from having achieved your goals?”
Repeat the above process, focussing on different areas of your life: relationships, career, health, wealth. This will help you get hyper-focussed on what you want to achieve.