The essential steps of successful goal-setting are as follows:

  1. Establish SMART goals aligned with your personal mission statement.
  2. Develop action steps for each goal; consider the benefits to be gained and the losses to be avoided.
  3. Add deadlines for actions and determine who will hold you accountable. Identify a competent coach or an inspiring mentor.

My hope is that more people will make it a priority to live meaningful and intentional lives. Being among the three percent who have clearly-written goals should be your aim.

Goals have power, but only if we are intentional about setting goals, embracing them and taking action. If we do this well, we will ultimately achieve goals that matter.

The Key to Goal Achievement? Planning

It is one thing to set goals and another to take action towards achieving them.

Having timelines as to when you will take an action is an important part of the goal-setting process. If you set a timeline, you will have an accountability mechanism to keep you honest.

I have established timelines where some were too aggressive and some were too conservative. I realized the importance of building timelines that were reasonable: that did not put too much pressure on me. When I did this, I sensed I was making substantial progress.

As a young leader, I worked with others and emulated their behavior, which resulted in busyness. Many of the activities were a waste of time–working long hours or establishing unrealistic schedules.

I found myself doing things for people without knowing why, and I was distracted and disconnected.

I have learned that goal-oriented thinking allows us to maximize time and relationships, and find more meaning in life.

What Happens if You Don’t Have Goals?

When we busy ourselves with no direction, it can be extremely stressful. This is true whether one is a student, a young employee, an executive, a business owner or a retiree.


 I think of students who are worried about getting good grades, but they do not want to miss out on any fun. They party all night, sleep all day, and study when they can work it into their schedule.

The college experience goes by quickly, and they wonder why their grade point average is below 2.0.

Young Employees

I also think of people who are beginning their careers and desire to climb the ladder or build a business to a sustainable level in a short period of time. They burn the candle at both ends, working to achieve something that is unclear.

Sometimes they have a business plan, but in most cases they do not. They certainly do not have one for their own lives.


I have also interacted with retirees who have given it their all during their corporate careers and reached a point where they can or must shift. As few baby boomers retire with enough money on which to live, they experience stress as they attempt to make ends meet.

For other retirees who do not work and do not face financial challenges, the question is what they should do with their time. At this stage of life, many people feel that they are past their prime and do not have anything of value to add to our society or the world.

Taking a Strategic Approach to Life

Goal-setting can help renew one’s mindset and broaden life’s meaning. In fact, if we combine goal-setting with a clear understanding of our purpose, a vision of the future and a clear mission statement, goal-setting in our priority areas of life can be transformational.

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