Coming up with goals for the future is harder than it sounds, especially if you expect to reach them. It’s one thing to jot down a list of wishes and then put the paper away. It’s a whole different ball of wax to create plans and intentionally live the results ahead of time.

Dear Diary,

I used to think setting goals was a stupid idea that didn’t mean anything. Just consider all those New Year’s resolutions that end up being ignored. If those resolutions were meant to be taken seriously, we would work hard on them all year. But that’s not my experience.

Year-end is a good time to reflect on the recent past. Some of us have the reflection part down, but when setting future goals, there’s usually more silence than noise.

That’s most likely why I started thinking goals were stupid in general. Don’t get me wrong – not having official goals at the office or home didn’t stop me from being a diligent worker who took pride in doing more than was expected.


I’ve recently been spending time with a group of women who use the goal game to their advantage. They set big goals, make plans to achieve them, and then get to work. Being around this group has made me wonder what I might have accomplished in the past had I been consistently working toward specific, defined goals.


As an experiment, I decided to implement a new goal-setting process and pay close attention to see if increased motivation was a result.

The first goal I came up with had little impact on how I felt (motivation-wise). There was something about it that seemed “too easy.” So, I set a much bigger goal that I wasn’t sure I could reach. I’m not talking about trying to lose 40 pounds in one month or reading “War and Peace” in Russian, but this bigger idea was intended to push me a little and help me learn, grow, and expand my current thinking.

What I discovered is that having a big goal combined with the determination to reach it gave my brain the challenge and structure it required to maintain focus and keep moving forward during the execution phase.


When it comes to our personal lives, we often forget the importance of making specific plans and working toward outcomes. Many of us choose to take life as it comes and then feel confused when things don’t work out as we had hoped.

I now realize there’s value in making distinct plans for our personal lives (vs. our business lives). It has been suggested that we go through this planning process annually and use it as an opportunity for making new life decisions, i.e., what outcomes do we want to have and by when? The only tools needed are pen and paper plus dedicated time without distractions.


The big question to ask is this:

What do I want to do or have in my life, and who do I want to be?

Make a list of at least 25 responses (some should be things you already have). Be as detailed as possible and include all the relevant specifics in a sub-list of actions required to make it happen.

After your list is complete, review it again and ask yourself why you don’t have these things in your life now. Make notes about previous attempts and current obstacles that are in the way of achievement. Look at all your reasons and make notes about how they make you feel. If (when) you find you are stuck in self-criticism, cut it out. Choose to give yourself a fresh start.


At this point in the process, it’s time to put into practice the most important step that all the successful self-help gurus highly recommend. (Don’t skip it.)

Read each entry on your list one at a time. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and imagine yourself having achieved that goal.

For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, see yourself 30 pounds lighter going through a normal day. How would you be feeling? What decisions would you be making? What would you be thinking about? Once you’ve got a clear picture, intentionally decide to believe you are there right now. When you open your eyes, continue believing your goal is achieved and move on with your day. If you find yourself slipping out of the belief, repeat the process described as often as needed. This practice will eventually become habitual and will make goal attainment much easier.

Whether or not you ultimately achieve everything you want, you will become a better version of yourself for trying.

Either way, you win.

Until next time,


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Lisa Boyer