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3 Strategies for Creating Goals That Matter to You

02/13/2015 09:54 am ET | Updated Apr 15, 2015

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I used to daydream about my future. I remember flipping through National Geographic magazines. I would fantasize about being the amazing travel writer who brought those stories to life.

Unfortunately, life did not care much for my dreams. So I did what was expected: I graduated, I got a job, I got married. I started a family and bought a house. I was living the "American Dream." So why was I unhappy with my success?

Unclear on why I was unhappy I asked myself these two very important questions:

  1. What do I want to get out of my life?
  2. What can I offer the world in return for getting the life I want?

After some deliberation, I realized I was not unhappy with my success. I was unhappy because I was successful at the wrong things. Worse I was giving more value to my work than my family and my forgotten dreams.

So I spent a few days answering these two very important -- carefully and completely. Answering these questions gave more clarity on setting goals that really mattered to me. The questions also allowed me to make a better plan, in the pursuit of my dreams.

What Do I Want To Get Out Of My Life?

This is a tough question to answer. Not because I did not know what I wanted out of my life but because I was scared. I was fearful of failing miserably or ridiculed for trying.

Up until recently my goals were only dreams. It's much simpler to dream, it's safe. But when you are plotting your journey your dreams become an action plan.

Michael Hyatt has a course in goal setting. He sheds some light on how to turn your dreams into an action plan:

  1. Courage. Here is where we face our fears and punch it in the face. We cannot avoid a situation because it is challenging. We must face it because that is when you grow the most.
  2. Commitment. You must do the work. You must dedicate time to getting things done. It will be hard but what you gain from the experience will be amazing.
  3. Clarity. You have to know what you want. It's impossible to reach any goal if you are unclear on your goal.

If you can embrace all three, then you are well on your way to living the life you want to live.

What can I offer the World in return for getting the life I want?

Now that I am armed with courage, commitment and clarity -- how do I give back?

Let's face it you will never get from where you are now to where you want to be, all by yourself. Along your journey, there will be many people that will help you. Why?

They are helping you because they were once in your position, and someone helped them.

So this becomes a rather serious question and one that you must respect. Yes, the simplest way to give back is to help others in their journey. But you don't have to stop there, I challenge you to brainstorm on how you can give back to the World.

Creating Your Perfect Day

Now that I have answered those two very important questions -- what is next? Now it's time to create my perfect day.

The perfect day is a classic exercise that allows you to be a kid again. Take the exercise seriously. I recommend settings aside a quiet weekend afternoon to complete it.

This is what your perfect day might look like (the more specific, the better):

  • Morning -- I woke up this morning without the alarm clock, and I feel amazing.
  • Breakfast -- After my Yoga workout this morning; I am having bacon and eggs with the family.
  • After breakfast -- I have set a few hours aside this morning start working on my next book.
  • Lunch -- I am eating lunch at the "restaurant" with my publisher; discussing strategies for the next book.
  • After lunch -- I am heading downtown for a book signing and then a business meeting with a startup.
  • Dinner -- I just got home in time for dinner with my family -- I love my wife's cooking.
  • After dinner -- My wife and I just booked the family vacation in Spain -- for the entire summer.
  • Etc...

As you begin to flesh out the details of this exercise. You will begin to realize what is necessary to move your life closer to the perfect day you just designed.

You now have the basics for creating goals that matter to you. What is the first baby step that you are going to take today?

Photo: Author's own