Tangible Goals

Reality and the Fantasy

By writing goals onto paper, magic happens. They go from being abstract to being real. They go from being nice-to-have to being things-to-do.

At the beginning of 2010, I put down several goals, including some financial ones. They were a stretch, and not SMART goals, but close enough. As I started hitting them, I saw that I could do even bigger things, if I wanted to work on those goals for 2011. Combined with my ideas about asking better questions, I found that you can really get far if you write your goals down.

Written Vs Stored

Some people say, I have my goals memorized. That’s great, but the world is built to distract you. My goals are on paper and I can refer to that paper daily, many times a day. In fact, I can stick a Post-It on my monitor so that when I get distracted, or when I stray into areas that aren’t part of my goals, those little notes will get me back on course. You can “cheat” a little if they’re not written down, either. So, get your goals onto paper. More than once, if you really want to get better at it.

Big Enough to Stretch

I set my financial goal to be three times higher than last year’s goal. That was a bit challenging, but I figured that if I worked hard enough, then I’d reap the rewards. It appears that I’ll hit the goal. (Never mind the fact that I’m turning around and investing it all into Human Business Works, so I’m not exactly cuddling up to bags of money or anything.) I’m setting similar fitness goals, but for every day that I don’t write it down, and for every day that I don’t stretch beyond what’s easy to accomplish, I just do the bare minimum.

Multiple Dimensions Matter

Stephen R. Covey had a whole thing about “Roles & Goals” in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve used that for well over a decade to be sure that my goals match up with the roles that matter most to me in my life: Experimenter, Builder, Teacher. I make sure that my goals can be expressed across all those roles and that they dovetail together reasonably well. Meaning, it’s not all that useful if you improve your business, but lose your family. It’s not that useful if you grow your family’s love for you, but lose all your earning potential and have to sell the house. Everything is in balance, and everything is a measure towards keeping success flowing in all areas of what you’re doing.

Start Now

The final piece of advice I have for you is to start now. Not tomorrow. Not on your birthday. Not on New Years. If you haven’t written out tangible goals, figure out what you can do between now and the end of the year. Write them around the various roles you have. Write them big enough to stretch. And write them about the larger story that you’re part of, and not the here and now. Work on these goals daily, or you’re just working on doing what others have put in front of you.

Success in the small ones, by the way, is fuel for the big ones.

What say you?

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  • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

    For some reason, I have great resistance to reading 7 Habits. I own it. I’ve owned it for about…erm…5-6 years? I felt when it was purchased for me that it was kind of Oprah/Dr. Phil type stuff, which I don’t abide by much. I know you reference it a lot though…is it written in a “this is good advice to consider” kind of way or is it written in a “grab your collar shove you up against the wall so you get it” kind of way?

    I know. I could just read it and find out.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Do the audio program. That’s how I got over it.

      And it’s what changed my life. More than any other written work.

      • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

        ok. Do you have an affiliate link for that, sir?

        • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan
          • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

            Coolio. I shall purchase once I get home!

            Your next half a coke is on me :)

          • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

            Coolio. I shall purchase once I get home!

            Your next half a coke is on me :)

        • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan
        • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan
  • http://www.blogmarketingmix.com Trish Jones

    I must be a woman Chris … they’re both ugly! :-) I agree with setting tangible goals though … but I’ll skip the car. :-)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      The car’s just a thing. But it was a goal. : )

  • http://www.blogmarketingmix.com Trish Jones

    I must be a woman Chris … they’re both ugly! :-) I agree with setting tangible goals though … but I’ll skip the car. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/jasonhobbsllc Jason Hobbs, LLC

    Good stuff as always Mr. Brogan. :)

    I like to set up short medium and long term goals and use them like a roadmap to where I want to go within a year.

    I really think you made a great point about the importance of putting goals on paper. I tend to take it a step further by also having someone (or multiple people) that I respect read those goals and potentially help hold me accountable for them. Its not that I need handholding, its just tends to make the goals that much more real, since they are on paper and they have been promoted to another person.

    I find its the tough times when things are not going perfect to plan where the goals being on paper is my biggest advantage, rather than trying to muddle through the various thoughts in my head to recall my goals/why I got into this mess in the first place, I can whip out my handy dandy goal sheet and refocus instantly.

    Lastly, I think it really comes down to knowing your personality for determining the best way to set goals successfully. What I mean is, while all goals must be “big enough to stretch” as you pointed out, some people are motivated more by pushing for those HUGE goals and even if they fall a bit short, they are able to see that they have accomplished a ton in respect to where they started the process. Others can get negged out by not achieving the goals and for them incremental, along the lines of a staircase, goals are the best for moving them forward and building their confidence along the way.

    Again, great post, I always enjoy reading your work.

  • http://coursepilotfinancial.com/ Mike Langford

    Written goals are an absolute must as are written reviews of your progress towards your goals. Taking stock of how you are doing and asking yourself if these things are still important is a great way to make sure you are getting what you want out of life.

    I also think it is important to go beyond the page and get out there and touch and feel your goals when you can. As I wrote yesterday, I take my family to the Newport Boat Show every year because I have a goal to buy a BIG sailboat when the kids get a little older. Stepping on the boat and sitting at the helm while my 5 yr old plays around is tremendously valuable. It makes the goal real.

    But something else happened this past weekend when we were at the show. I discovered that I want a small motor boat too. Sailing is great, but we may want to go fishing for the afternoon or zip across the bay to the beach. I would have never realized that this should be a goal if I hadn’t gone out to stay in touch with my other goal.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I like that, Mike. BREATHING IN a goal is an obvious way to really get it into you. Feel it. Touch it. Smell it. Smell LIKE it. Kinda cool. Neat reminder.

  • http://wordsdonewrite.blogspot.com Words Done Write

    Goal # 1: Start a list of goals…

    Thanks for the smart reminders, Chris!

    Amber Avines
    @wordsdonewrite

  • http://www.diewithoutart.com Danijel Å ivinjski

    Amazing. I really do like posts like this, posts about setting goals. I also wrote some on my blog. This is very important for our own future if we want it better. Thanks Chris, regards from Croatia.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Hello back, Croatia. : ) Glad you’re here, Danijel.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Hello back, Croatia. : ) Glad you’re here, Danijel.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Hello back, Croatia. : ) Glad you’re here, Danijel.

  • Rick Banas

    In total agreement about written goals and that success in achieiving small goals is significantly beneficial in helping you achieve your big and bold ones. I encourage sales people to write down their goal for the number of sales contacts they are looking to complete between 3 and 5 p.m. this afternoon. At five, take a few moments to compare their goal with what they actually were able to achieve and think about what they might have been able to do differently to increase their odds of surpassing their goal.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      It’s got to work a lot better, eh? I mean with sales people, if you’re not looking at the numbers, you’re not going forward, are you?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      It’s got to work a lot better, eh? I mean with sales people, if you’re not looking at the numbers, you’re not going forward, are you?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      It’s got to work a lot better, eh? I mean with sales people, if you’re not looking at the numbers, you’re not going forward, are you?

  • http://darraghkelly.me Darragh Kelly

    A timely reminder, thanks Chris.

    Do you directly follow up on that with some type of game plan based on an analysis of previous year? A possible post follow up, would be interesting.

    Thanks again for all the value I get from your blog, it really is thought provoking wealth of knowledge.

  • http://darraghkelly.me Darragh Kelly

    A timely reminder, thanks Chris.

    Do you directly follow up on that with some type of game plan based on an analysis of previous year? A possible post follow up, would be interesting.

    Thanks again for all the value I get from your blog, it really is thought provoking wealth of knowledge.

  • Xpences

    Thanks for the good reminder to just keep writing those same goals down…day in & day out. It’s persistence & focus which turns into belief & eventually reality.

  • http://karate-kids.com.au Sensei Matt Klein

    Like your advice about writing it down now, not just on New Years, etc. How many people just pay it lip service once a year? I sometimes the extra step of making it public–there is nothing like peer pressure to goad you on down the road.

  • http://karate-kids.com.au Sensei Matt Klein

    Like your advice about writing it down now, not just on New Years, etc. How many people just pay it lip service once a year? I sometimes the extra step of making it public–there is nothing like peer pressure to goad you on down the road.

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    When we write them down they become more actionable. We are taking the time to write them so we become accountable (or should) as when we do not write them down we never are taking any action towards them. I have goals in many aspects of life. Last year when it became time for Andrew to learn how to ride his bike without training wheels I set a goal of going out there every day for 14 days and if he rode without them for 2 min that was fine, the goal was to stay focused and committed to it. On day 6, he was comfortable enough and was off to the races. On day 10, we was going up and down ramps. I know had I not written it down, I may have abandoned ship as some of the days I would have not gone out there but since it was written down staring at me I had to remain accountable.

    Small goals that are achieved are the stepping stone for the big ones. It is a confidence builder that we need to look at the bigger picture and take it one step at a time.

    @SuzanneVara

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    When we write them down they become more actionable. We are taking the time to write them so we become accountable (or should) as when we do not write them down we never are taking any action towards them. I have goals in many aspects of life. Last year when it became time for Andrew to learn how to ride his bike without training wheels I set a goal of going out there every day for 14 days and if he rode without them for 2 min that was fine, the goal was to stay focused and committed to it. On day 6, he was comfortable enough and was off to the races. On day 10, we was going up and down ramps. I know had I not written it down, I may have abandoned ship as some of the days I would have not gone out there but since it was written down staring at me I had to remain accountable.

    Small goals that are achieved are the stepping stone for the big ones. It is a confidence builder that we need to look at the bigger picture and take it one step at a time.

    @SuzanneVara

  • Matt Stigliano

    Chris – I was an “it’s in my head” guy for a long time. Why? Well first, I didn’t belies the hoo-haw that writing them was any different. Second, because when I failed to obtain them, no one could say I missed the mark. I was able to cheat the system and readjust the goal. Said a better way, I was able to lie to myself and change my goal to suit my needs.

    I struggled with goals because I didn’t want to fail. Didn’t reach a goal? I failed. Writing them down only allowed me to admit that failure publicly (even if no one read the goal – it still feels more public).

    Then came Reggie, a fellow agent in my office at the time. He planted an art easel with one of those giant Post-it pads on it with a note that said “Goals.” he parked it in such a way that I had to move it or squeeze by it to get to my desk. I would squirm my way around it for days before I got sick of it. If I moves it, he would wait until I left and put it right back in the same spot for the next morning.

    Frustrated, I finally took the pen and started jotting them down. Seven sheets in all that I then stuck to the tiny wall of my office. I didn’t reach all of them that year, but I never had a doubt what I was working for each and every day.

    Maybe it was a bit drastic, but it kept me working towards them every day that year. I’m a goal writer now. Not a goal typer either – hand written. Every time.

  • http://twitter.com/KaRilCa Karen Rilstone

    Thanks, Chris, for your recent series of articles (Ask Better Questions, Find your Blinders, Silence as a Business Edge, Tangible Goals, etc. I need to stop and determine whether my current path is one I want to continue to pursue and set down goals for whatever I decide. I will then have something concrete to focus on and commit to.

  • http://www.HabitofThought.com Mary Anne Shew

    Intangible goals are important too.These are goals about what you want to become. They relate to attitudes, behaviors, personality traits, and skills you want or need to develop. Although they are harder to visualize than tangible goals, often they have a more profound effect on your personal and professional growth and success. One of my intangible goals is to improve my attitude about exercising.

  • http://www.HabitofThought.com Mary Anne Shew

    Forgot to mention a book I’d like to recommend in this context. It’s not about goals per se, but its concepts have a profound impact on which goals to set and how to carry them out. It’s The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

  • Anonymous

    I am a big believer in the power of written goals. Do I meet them all…nope… but often I get really close, closer than I ever would have without that goal out in front of me all year. A written goal equals a focus point. We tend to get what we focus on, and miss what we are not focused on.

    People call me all the time and ask how a putz like me became a full-time professional speaker? (yes, they almost say “putz”, he he). Some want to do the same thing. I tell them I have spent over a decade studying the business of speaking, and had a goal to be doing it full time by January 2009. I did it part time for five years. It was April 2009 when it became full time. Without that goal for a long time, and a lot of work in between…. it would still be a wish or dream. The focus of the goal made it happen.

  • http://ajleon.me ajleon

    Totally agree, dude. Three years ago, I was incredibly unhappy with everything about my life (besides my sweet Melissa). Since then, I lost 80lbs, started a business with my wife, have traveled to 30 countries. All those things we wrote down when we decided we didn’t like the story we were living. Great post, man :)

  • http://ajleon.me ajleon

    Totally agree, dude. Three years ago, I was incredibly unhappy with everything about my life (besides my sweet Melissa). Since then, I lost 80lbs, started a business with my wife, have traveled to 30 countries. All those things we wrote down when we decided we didn’t like the story we were living. Great post, man :)

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  • http://twitter.com/PhotoBySki PhotoBySki

    I read Brian Tracy’s GOALS! book last year and ever since then, I have been writing out my goals EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. And here’s the thing, I use a composition notebook and write out my goals (personal, family, business) on a separate page WITHOUT LOOKING AT WHAT I HAVE PREVIOUSLY WRITTEN. This is key. It’s not about memorizing. It’s about knowing. I can recite my goals from memory but that’s not the point. Yes, my goals change. It saddens me when people don’t have goals. If you don’t, what’s the point of living then? We are all here for a reason. What’s yours?

    • CyborgRun

      How successful has following Brain Tracy’s GOALS! method been for you? Can you list a percentage of goals that you’ve achieved vs. percentage you haven’t, etc?

      Just trying to get a concrete idea of how it’s worked for you in the real world.

    • CyborgRun

      How successful has following Brain Tracy’s GOALS! method been for you? Can you list a percentage of goals that you’ve achieved vs. percentage you haven’t, etc?

      Just trying to get a concrete idea of how it’s worked for you in the real world.

  • http://escuelacass.posterous.com Susie Monday

    I’ve been working with maestros in El Salvador this weekend to do just that. They’re part of CASS and involved in a financial and social education program Aflatoun, now in 55 countries from its base in the Netherlands. Even young kids can make progress when they set and write down goals, and teachers can become change makers for entire communities.

  • http://twitter.com/charlotteclark charlotteclark

    Great post, I have postits stuck to my monitor at the moment for my every day tasks. Helps me focus majorly! Weldone with the financial goals, I’ll have to start working on mine. Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/charlotteclark charlotteclark

    Great post, I have postits stuck to my monitor at the moment for my every day tasks. Helps me focus majorly! Weldone with the financial goals, I’ll have to start working on mine. Cheers!

  • http://www.jamieflinchbaugh.com Jamie Flinchbaugh

    Absolutely, writing them down helps. But reviewing them regularly is also important. Regularly means at a scheduled interval. If you just do it when you feel you should, your brain will likely play tricks on you. Specifically, it will say “you haven’t made progress on it so don’t look it.” This of course is a mistake.

    Also, I don’t think SMART goals are necessary. MT is enough. If you make your goals measurable and time-bound, you’ll develop good goals. If you need a reminder to make them relevant, then we have a bigger problem. If they are M and T, then they are already specific. And personally, I don’t think Attainable should be a check the box text, because sometimes our goals have to be ambitious.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh

  • http://www.blackfridayplanet.com/ William Hushburn

    My tangible goals would be a better car, a bigger house and a better camera.

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