Goal-Setting: Most Advice Is Wrong

Tower2A mentor of mine—W.Steven Brown—taught me a goal-setting concept that would challenge the modern-day over-achiever. 

A true goal is not the mountain I hope to climb, an image of a new Mercedes on my fridge, or the weight I claim I’ll lose. We say those are goals, but they’re not.

A real goal is this:

The goal I must achieve to feel good about me.

Here is the self-talk we have on goals, from deep inside where we really live:

Maybe I’m not able to climb that Colorado “fourteener,” but if I don’t at least scale this 8,500 ft. foothill with my kids, I’ll be embarrassed.

That Benz would be totally cool, but I’ve got to at least earn enough to buy that shiny red Ford Fiesta Sport!

I know I posted on Facebook I’d lose 50 pounds, but if I don’t lose at least 15, I won’t be able to face my friends.

Two personal examples:

Example One:

For a decade, my high-energy wife, Karen, would briskly walk our two huskies 3 miles—1.5 miles east to Tower Road and back home again. I resisted because I always wanted to turn around short of Tower as I could barely do two miles.

But something happened on my way to 195 pounds on my 5′ 6″ frame:

I decided to get my act together …

The Power of Simple (weight-loss story)

5 Lessons Learned When I Quit Making Excuses

Since April 2012, I’ve walked 4,000+ miles, losing 40+ pounds—and kept them off. 

Sometimes, though, I overdo, like I did Saturday by walking 6.5 miles. When I dragged myself out of the house the next day, I could only go …

To Tower Road and back!

Yep, a 3-mile walk is now my minimum thus it’s my real goal. Anything over that is pure gravy. You may say it’s all semantics, but … it isn’t. 🙂

Example Two:

When I began selling training in 1986, I’d phone execs for appointments. I learned I had to add two appointments to my calendar daily to succeed in sales. It was a grind, for sure, but sometimes I’d get 3 or 4. One day I added 7 to my calendar!

But, if I didn’t emerge from my basement home office/furnace room at the end of the day with a minimum of two new appointments, I had failed myself.

So, two new appointments every day—day in, day out—was the real goal.

Now, nothing says I can’t raise my minimums. However, we need to get clear on this truth regarding goal-setting: The real goal, the true goal, the goal I just have to reach is defined as the least I will allow myself to achieve.

How does this concept add value to our lives?

Nothing kills motivation, excitement, and desire and heaps discouragement upon me faster than a way-too-big, unachievable, monster goal.

The secret to setting and achieving goals is to be able to fill in the blank:

If I don’t at least reach/accomplish/obtain/do/acquire/achieve _______________, I will have failed me.

Got goals? Want to reach them? Then embrace this “goals are minimums” truth and get to succeeding today!

What do you take away from this blog and how will you apply it? Share below!

More on GOALS here: The Absolute Secret to Goal-Setting


7 Responses

  1. I love this approach and will integrate it with the goal – setting framework I use with my 6th grade students. I plan to take heed and use it within my family (me too!).
    Thank you for this “just in time” moment!

  2. Perfect timing! Absolutely what I needed to read today. Thank you. I read your notes from start to finish every time they hit my inbox. I amy not have commented before, however I want you to know your words hit home for me every time. Signing off now as I need to take the “first step” to success with my goals!

  3. Hello,
    I love the idea of setting daily minimums. I am coming up to one year anniversary of starting a healthy eating lifestyle. The initial intent was to lose 80 pounds. I achieve that goal in June, now the hard part, keeping it off. One thing I have been struggling with since I started is getting enough exercise in each week. I will set daily minimum goals for myself to help push me so those 80 pounds do not find their way back to me. Thank you for another great blog!

    Wishing you the best this holiday season.

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