“Setting goals is the first step to turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins
That’s great, but how do you decide which goals to go after?
Some people have too few goals. My problem is too many.
I want it all. Lose weight, get strong, play all the sports, win races. Meditate daily, read spiritual books, find my inner authenticity, feel better mentally. Become awesome at my job, find a new career, ignore my work to focus on my hobbies, start a new business. Master a new instrument, spend time scuba diving, learn Spanish, travel the world.
It’s taken me 35 years, but I’ve finally figured out that I can’t do all of things, at least not at the same time. How to choose which ones to pursue has weighed heavily on my mind for some time now. I want to share the strategies I’ve learned.
1. Warren Buffet’s 2 List Strategy
Write down your top 25 goals. Rank them. Now, separate that list into your top 5 goals and the rest. You top 5 goals are the goals you work on immediately.
The remaining 20 are the ones you ignore at all costs.
Don’t try to do all the goals; this way leads to madness. Focus on the ones that matter the most.
I’ve seen this strategy written about in several places, but most effectively by James Clear: Buffet Focus.
2. Playing to Your Strengths
My coach, Heidi, suggested choosing my goals based on my strengths. It doesn’t do me any good to have a goal that doesn’t align with what makes me tick.
According to StrengthsFinder 2.0, you’ll improve more when you focus on what you are good at. Ignore your weaknesses.
You can figure out your top 5 strengths by buying the book: Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0
(Here are my top strengths:
3. Aim for a Balanced Life
Andrew Ferebee runs a mastermind group focused on studying The Four Pillars of Life: health, wealth, relationships, and personal growth. You can find out more at Knowledge for Men.
Chalene Johnson recommends setting goals for 10 areas of your life: learning, joy, romance, friends & family, spirituality, office/home environment, profession/purpose, financial, fitness, and mental wellness. Chalene Johnson explains this in much more detail in her appearance on The Art of Charm podcast.
Do an internet search for “health, wealth, and” and you’ll find other lists. The point of every one of these is that your goals must be balanced. If you neglect part of your life in pursuit of a single goal, you’ll find yourself burnt out on your main goal and in debt elsewhere.
Having an overarching goal in each area also helps you focus and achieve what you set out to do! A recurring problem I have is that I’ll pick a goal, work on it for a while, and forget about it or change it after it gets stale. I’ve failed to achieved it!
For example: a general goal I have is to improve my fitness. I have goals to get a personal record in a race, lose weight, get a more muscular look by hitting the gym, eat a Nutritarian diet, improve my cardiovascular fitness to lower my disease danger, start Intermittent Fasting, etc. If my goal is, instead, “achieve excellent health,” it’s clearer what I should work on. Some of these are possible side effects, not goals. Others are part of a something larger — and I’ll achieve my goal only by working on them together.
4. Push Goals
A Push Goal is a larger goal that, once aimed for, topples the other goals like dominos. Bigger than a single area that your life, you can’t achieve it without achieving many of your other goals. Do you have an epic in your life, one which will take mental health, physical stamina, an uncluttered environment, supportive relationships, and more to achieve? This is your Push Goal.
Read more from Chalene Johnson: What is a Push Goal?
5. Finding Your Mission
None of your goals mean jack if they don’t help you fulfill some higher purpose. Without purpose, you’re going to wonder why you’re working so hard on something that doesn’t resonate with your true self. Without purpose, you’re going to find that you’ve toiled for weeks or years to achieve something that was a waste of time.
Some people are lucky enough to know their purpose. If you’re one of those, you have an advantage, and you can work on fitting your goals into this larger framework.
For the rest of us: try picking a mission and starting from there.
- Be the best version of myself possible, always growing and achieving
- Live a life of authenticity, compassion, integrity, and joy
- Be a force of positive change in the world, and help as many people as possible
If a goal doesn’t fit snuggly into your purpose, why is it your goal?
Let me know what your mission is in the comments.