10 Tips for Setting Your Greatest Goals

UPDATED: July 19, 2022
PUBLISHED: July 16, 2022
10 Tips for Setting Your Greatest Goals

I’ve told people countless times that they’ve just got to ask for what they want. The problem is, most people don’t know what they want. You can’t ask for what you want unless you know what it is.

So I’m going to start you on the wonderful path of painting your dreams into reality. I’m going to teach you the secrets behind setting—and achieving—your greatest ambitions.

Before we set off on this path together, let me make one thing very clear: The word “goals” can be intimidating. It can feel so overbearing that it keeps people from even beginning the process. Instead, think of goals as a to-do list with deadlines.

Do the deadlines have to be tomorrow? Or next week? Of course not. This is the to-do list for the rest of your life. Goals can be added, subtracted and, most importantly, scratched off the list as you move through your life.

Here’s a checklist to ensure you’re using a successful framework to create your to-do list:

1. Your most important goals must be yours.

Not your spouse’s. Not your child’s. Not your employer’s. Yours. When you let other people determine your definition of success, you’re sabotaging your own future.

2. Your goals must mean something to you.

When you write down your goals, you must ask yourself, What’s really important to me? What am I prepared to give up to make this happen? Your reasons for charting a new course of action should be what give you the drive and energy to get up every morning.

3. Your goals must be specific and measurable.

Vague generalizations and wishy-washy statements aren’t good enough. Be specific.

4. Your goals must be flexible.

A flexible plan keeps you from feeling suffocated and will allow you to take advantage of the genuine opportunities that walk through your future door.

5. Your goals must be challenging and exciting.

Force yourself to jump out of your comfort zone to acquire that energy and edge. Setting challenging goals will push you to do and try more, which in turn will expand and increase the potential of your life ever-further.

6. Your goals must be in alignment with your values.

Pay attention to your intuition, your gut instinct. When you set a goal that contradicts your values, something inside of you will twinge. Notice that, and revise your goals accordingly.

7. Your goals must be well-balanced.

Make sure you include goals that allow and encourage time to relax, have fun and enjoy spending time with the people in your closest circle.

8. Your goals must be realistic.

Be expansive but don’t be ridiculous. If you’re 4 feet tall, you will probably never play in the NBA. Also, be sure to allow yourself time to reach your goals.

9. Your goals must include contribution.

Unfortunately, many people get so wrapped up in pursuing their goals that they don’t have time in their lives to give something back to society. Build this into your goals program.

10. Your goals need to be supported.

Either selectively share a few of your goals with a number of people, or share all of your goals with a select few people. In either case, you’re creating a web of support and accountability for yourself.

And now it’s time to get started on your master plan. Give yourself some quiet time, put on some relaxing music and write down 101 goals. That’s right, 101.

Open your mind to all the possibilities. Start each goal with I am or I will. Don’t even think about restricting yourself. To help you with this process, here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • What do I want to do?
  • What do I want to have?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What contribution do I want to make?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • Who do I want to meet and spend my time with?
  • How much do I want to earn, save and invest?
  • What will I do for fun and optimum health?

This process might take two hours. It might take two weeks. Don’t stop until you have 101 goals. Remember, you’re building your better life here—it’s the only life you have.

This article was published in December 2016 and has been updated. Photo by 23 estudio/Shutterstock

Mark Victor Hansen

Mark Victor Hansen is best known as the co-author for the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and brand, setting world records in book sales, with over 500 million books sold. Mark also worked his way into a worldwide spotlight as a sought-after keynote speaker, and entrepreneurial marketing maven, creating a stream of successful people who have created massive success for themselves through Mark’s unique teachings and wisdom. With his endearing charismatic style, Mark captures his audience’s attention as well as their hearts. Having spoken to over 6,000 audiences world-wide with his one-of-a-kind technique and masterful authority of his work, time and again he continues to receive high accolades from his audiences as one of the most dynamic and compelling speakers and leaders of our time. Mark and his beautiful wife, Crystal Dwyer Hansen, have co-written their newest book to be released in April 2020 called, ASK! The Bridge from Your Dreams to Your Destiny.