100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 70. Learn Proper Goal Setting

Again, that goes hand in hand with writing a personal mission but it’s more than that. It’s the habit of clearly deciding – and, subsequently, describing – where you want to go. Do you have a goal? A passion, maybe? Go for it! And be verbose.

Create your desired reality in your head first. Make it clear. And the easiest way to make it clear is to translate it into goals. I want that thing. And that thing consists from… fill in the blanks.

Learning proper goal setting is a very useful thing to do not only from the productivity perspective, although it will greatly improve your productivity, but more from the perspective of taking real decisions and make them clear.

A goal is in fact the shape of a decision you?ve already taken. Make it clear. 

Goal Setting – What It Is, What It Is Not And How To Use

Napoleon Hill once said “a goal is a dream with a deadline”. To some extent, I think he was right. But a goal, in my opinion, is much, much more than that.

Let me start by giving you a few examples of goals I set over the time, many of them already achieved:

  • to start my own business (just one in the beginning, followed by a few others in the last  years)
  • to make an exit from my own business (to sell it for a profit)
  • to travel around the world
  • to run a marathon
  • to learn and dance Argentine tango
  • to come back (and stay) to the same weight I had in my twenties
  • to run a 200km+ ultra-marathon (this one is in the process, I’m training for it)
  • to embrace a raw vegan diet (did this for 9 months and it was great)

As you can see, a goal can be anything from a thing I want to own (a business), from a thing I want to do (run an ultra-marathon or a marathon) up to a general context of your life (keeping a healthy weight or dancing Argentine tango).

During the last 15 years, since I started my own business, I became almost obsessed with goals. I had a lot of breakthroughs (or, in popular talk: successes) and learned a lot of lessons (in popular talk: failures). Based on this experience I created my own goal setting framework. It’s like a set of rules I apply every time I set a goal. This set of rules help me set up powerful goals correctly, and create a practical approach to reach to those goals.

This framework is flexible enough to make me change course in the middle of the process, if need will be, but strong enough to keep me on course when the going gets tough.

I will give you 3 inside hints about this system:

1. The Difference Between A Goal And A Monkey

A couple of years ago I did a wild experiment. I lived an entire year without goals. Instead, I set aside 30 days to solve one “monkey”. Or, in the terms used at that time, to “tame” the monkey.

Now, what is a “monkey”, you asked? Well, a monkey is underdeveloped part of ourselves, a promise that we made, but never honored, a place where we want to be, but for which we didn’t do anything. It’s something stopped in its evolution, just what real monkeys are compared with humans.

It took me 12 months to tame 12 monkeys and this proved to be en enlightening experience. I learned that the first thing that changes wishful thinking and transforms it into a goal, it’s the wording. How you define the goal. How you make it human, how you set it up to be human, and not “monkey-like”.

2.  What Is Assess, Decide, Do And Why It Matters

I’ve been obsessed with productivity for many years (I still think of myself as a productivity power user, so to speak). So, in time, I came to realize that we live in 3 realms, not only in the Do realm, as many productivity techniques are preaching. In other words, we’re not designed only to Do. We’re also designed to Assess – which means to take feedback, to day dream, to analyze, to just evaluate something, without engaging in any activity with it. And we’re also designed to Decide – to plan in advance, to forecast, to sign a contract with the task, or the project we want to achieve.

This combination of realms, this swinging back and forth between Assess, Decide and Do is the cornerstone of my productivity framework. I even wrote an iPhone app for it, you can get it from AppStore, if you want. I used this app day in and day out from the day I finished it and it works great for me.

So, the basic thing is that we need to correctly position ourselves in all of these 3 reams, in order to avoid any imbalances created by too much time spent in one of them. For instance, if you live too much in Assess, you get the “analysis paralysis”, an imbalance in which all you do is crunching data, but never take action.

3. The Magic Fairy Exercise

There is this joke about a Bedouin who accidentally meets a magic fairy in the desert. Excited, the Bedouin makes three wishes: he wants to be white (to get rid of the desert tan he got for years), to have a lot of water and to be touched daily by dozens of women. After a second of thinking, the magic fairy fulfills his wish and he makes it… a toilet seat in the ladies room. White, with a lot of water and touched daily by dozens of women.

Beyond laughing, that’s a fundamental mistake we make when we set up goals. We focus on the small parts and we never take into account the big picture. It’s like we wish to have a big car, a big house and a lot of money, but focusing only on those we lose from sight the peace of mind, the relationships, the health. We may get all that we want, but we may find in the end that it isn’t at all what we really wanted.


Now, all you saw above, and much more, is nicely packed into a series of lectures I teach online. It’s a course called Goal Setting 101, officially launched in 2012, on Udemy. At the time of writing this article, the course was retired form Udemy (mainly because I found another teaching platform, with a more flexible pricing structure and Udemy policies doesn’t allow to have your course published in many places at once). But during his time on Udemy, Goal Setting 101 was taken by more than 150 students and it had a 4 and a half star review (which is kind of outstanding).

The new pricing structure allowed me to shave instantly $20 from the original price, bringing the price from $69 to $49. That in itself was a huge advantage for me, because now the course can be available for many other people. But on top of that price, I will give a $20 discount, if you follow the link below (or if you add the code dragosblog when you buy the course).

Goal Setting 101

I didn’t write this article as a way to sell the course. But in a window of 5 to 7 minutes (that’s how long it took you to read until here) I can only put a limited amount of information. Even if you follow those 3 simple things described above, your outlook on goals will change and that was my goal with this blog post: to give you as much as I can in a time window of 8 minutes.

But if you want more, you will need some form of commitment, you will need to put aside at least 2 hours (that’s how long the 11 lectures in the course are taking). Hence, the link – and the discount – to my course. If you decide that goals are important, if you have at least one goal similar to those described above, then this course is for you.

Not to mention it will be a pleasure for me to work with you. See you here: 🙂

Goal Setting 101

Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner

The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.

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