The Goals That Shape Your Future - Is There A Better Way To Think About Them?

The Goals That Shape Your Future – Is There A Better Way To Think About Them?

Do you have goals?

I don't always have written goals, but I do always have something I'm working toward. I usually keep those goals in my head, that is, unless I read a book that tells me I need to write them down, then for a short period of time, I write them down. But it never lasts.

Goals Were Mandatory In The Corporate World

I remember when I worked in the corporate world, I hated that time of year when I had to set goals for my department and also make sure all my employees set their own individual goals. They didn't call it goal setting, they called it setting “objectives.”

It was like pulling teeth to come up with new ideas for a department that did routine and repetitive work that couldn't be fundamentally changed. It just seemed so contrived, I hated it, my employees hated it, heck, even my boss hated it. But it was company policy and was tracked in an online software program. If we ever wanted a raise or promotion, we had to do it.

Those yearly exercises made me hate goal setting.

A Better Way To Set Goals

I'm currently reading Vishen Lakhiani's book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. In his book, he talks a lot about goals. Experiences, growth, and contribution are the areas where he focuses, but he changes the entire dynamic of goal setting and it gives me a whole new way to look at the process.

He teaches that there are two kinds of goals, “means goals” and “end goals.” He explains that most people when setting goals usually set “means goals,” meaning that most goals are just a “means” to an “end.” The better way to set goals is to set “end goals.”

As an example, one might set a goal to buy a new car. That seems like a great goal, and if you listen to a lot of the great business minds on the planet, you might even use the S.M.A.R.T. system to set your goal. The letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Blue Tesla Model 3So, to set your S.M.A.R.T. goal you would write, “I want to buy a new Blue Tesla Model 3 that includes the software so it drives itself (specific) and I want to have a payment of $xxxx so I will need a down payment of $xxxx (measurable & attainable), by doing this I will help save the environment for my grandchildren (relevant) and I will order it by x date (timely).” You might even add a photo of the car to your vision board.

Vishen teaches you to then ask “WHY?” Why do you want that car?

You might say, I want a Tesla because it's a cool car and owning one helps save the environment.

Sounds good, but

Why do you want to save the environment?

Hmm, so I can make the world a better place for my grandchildren.

Better, but

Why do you want to make the world a better place for your grandchildren?

Because it will make me feel like I have some significance and can effect change in the world.

Getting closer, but

Why do you want to feel like you have significance and effect change?

Because I want people to think I'm a good person.

THAT'S IT, that's the end goal, right?

Not quite.

“End goals” cannot be dependent on other people. What happens if you wreck the car or end up not being able to afford it. Your “end goal” must be one that you can reach on your own because you cannot (and never want to) control other people. In this scenario, you're depending on other people to think you're a good person. What if they still don't think that after you get the car?

But, what if your end goal was, I always want to feel like I'm able to effect a change for the better. If this is your “end goal”, it wouldn't matter if you ever get a Tesla Model 3, you could do other things to effect a change for the better. It wouldn't matter where you end up or who you're with, it doesn't matter what others think as long as you are following your own desires to effect a change for the better. Your pursuit to effect a change for the better in any person, place, or thing will be one that fills your soul.

Now, of course, you can always have “means goals” too. Buying the car would be a “means goal.” It would be an experience that you want to have that will take you closer to your “end goal” of effecting a change for the better. In this case, you're not filling the air with harmful emissions.

And what about my “end goals?” Well, I have a great passion for personal freedom, especially in regard to work, job, and career. Because I spent most of my life in situations and jobs where I felt trapped, so one of my “end goals” is to “live in a state where I have the freedom to do and create as I wish.” Now that I've created my world to do just that, it doesn't matter what I'm doing as long as “I feel the freedom to do and create as I wish.” It could even be in a job, if that's what I choose, however, I would only choose a job where “I have the freedom to do and create as I wish.” My deep inner happiness depends on it and now that I know that, I can craft my life in a way where I will always be happy.

The Three Biggest Questions

There are three things that bring richness to our lives and satisfy our souls. When we ask ourselves what we want in these three areas it helps us craft a vision for our future.  Vishen calls them “The Three Most Important Questions” and all you need to do is ask yourself what you want in each of the three areas:

  • Experiences
  • Growth, and
  • Contribution

In crafting your vision for the future and categorizing the things you want into these areas, you may discover things you want that you have never considered before. If you do this with a friend or life partner, you may discover things they want that you can help them get. My hubby and I did this and some amazing things were discovered, I'll share mine later in this post but here's how to do the exercise that only takes about 10 minutes.

  1. First, take a piece of paper or a page in your journal (this is what I did, I didn't want to lose it), and divide it into three columns.
  2. Next, you label each column for one of the areas – Experiences, Growth, Contribution.
  3. Now set a timer for 3 minutes and as fast as you can, in the Experiences column, list all the things you want to do. List all the adventures you want to have. Big and little things, list as many as you have time to list.
  4. Then repeat the process for Growth. What things do you want to learn? What places do you want to see?
  5. And lastly, repeat the process for Contribution. How do you want to give back? How do you want to contribute to the world? Is there a way for you to contribute through your work? List them.

Each area of the exercise is done with a three-minute time limit so the most important stuff ends up on the paper. Your first inclinations of what to write are usually the ones most dear to your heart. But don't feel pressured by the time limit, you can always go back and refine your list later. And, your list can change over time as you learn, grow and experience the world.

Now, use your “Three Most Important Questions” to decide what your “means goals” will be. Or maybe your “Three Most Important Questions” will be or help you find your “end goals.” Use the information in any way you like, I'm sure whatever way you use it, it will enrich your life.

Some of My Answers to The Three Most Important Questions

My Three Big QuestionsNow, as promised, here are a few things my hubby and I listed when doing this exercise:

  • In the Experiences column, I already knew I wanted to go on a European River Cruise with my kid's families. Disney was on the list for family adventure as well. In fact, just about every experience I listed was travel. If you had asked me before I did the exercise, I would have told you that travel isn't important to me.
  • In the Growth column, I wrote that I want to start eating right. Funny, I had totally forgotten that I wrote that but I purchased the book “10 Day Detox” last week, about one month after writing that.
  • In the Contribution column, I wrote, “Be kind to Mike and any other employees that we hire in the future – pay well.” Mike is my trusted employee that takes good care of my Amazon business. I am kind to Mike, in fact, it's my first priority when dealing with him. Another thing I wrote was to share my views on my blog and YouTube. Maybe I haven't started “taking a stand” on anything yet but I did take a course on the subject last week.
  • To be honest, I really don't think three minutes was enough time to do each area. Looking at this list now, a month later, I don't think it's as complete as I would like. I want to make my contributions more significant and the growth deeper. I will soon get back to this and make it something I'm proud to share.

What surprised me about my hubby's list was that he wanted to go sky-diving! WUT? We've been married 32 years and he has never once told me he wanted to go sky-diving. I think we're going to have to make that happen…just not as a couple! I'll be there to cheer him on.

This is where sharing your “Three Most Important Questions” with friends and co-workers can really get exciting. Vishen shares a story in his book wherein their workplace they post their lists on a big bulletin board. One person that wanted to go hiking in the Alps found two other employees that wanted to do the same. They got together, took a week off from work and made their dreams a reality.

I love the power of collaboration. And that's a whole other subject about how when multiple minds come together it creates a synergy that becomes more than the sum of the parts. More on that in a later post.

Ciao for now!




About the Author Reba Collins

I’m a fifty-something, self-taught, online business geek from Texas and owner of Online To Thrive. A lot goes into creating an online business and it can be a really scary endeavor. I’m here to help make getting started easy and affordable with step-by-step courses that are clear, straightforward, and uncomplicated.