How to Set Better Goals and Achieve More

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You’ve probably been doing goals all wrong.  Or at least not as well as you could.  In this workshop style session, Dan Cumberland walks you step by step through a goal setting framework.

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Dan shows you how to:

  • Have the right goal mindset
  • Choose the right goal for you
  • Choose the right level of goal
  • Choose the right type of goal
  • Create an action plan for your goals
  • Building a Goal System
  • As well as answer a couple FAQ’s

Resources Mentioned:

Get the Goal Audit Template here!

Software Generated Transcription:

You’ve probably been doing goals all wrong, especially if you have resistance to setting goals, new year resolutions, however you think about it. Today in this session, we are breaking down goals. We are giving you a framework for building better habits around goals and achieving more in your next year.

I’m so pumped for this material. Let’s get into it. This is of course The Meaning Movement Podcast. I’m your host, Dan Cumberland. This show is all about helping entrepreneurs build lives and businesses that we can love for the long haul, not just sacrificing ourselves to an every day, day in, day out, hustle culture that we don’t love in order to get to a future that may never come instead.

Um, creating that alignment, finding that balance between who we are and what we do, and building a business that we can. For the long haul. That sounds like you, you’re in the right place Today. We’re diving into goals. Let me give you the roadmap of everything that we have and I have in store for you. I’m so pumped about this material.

This stuff gets me fired out. Me give you the roadmap of where we are going here today. First, we’re gonna dig into the mindset of goals. This is the biggest mistake that I see people make is not thinking about. Goals, the goals that they’re setting, the goals that we’re chasing in the right way. So we’re gonna start there.

Then we’re gonna go through a bunch of points about goals we’re gonna go through, talk about how to choose the right goal for you, how to choose the right level of goals so you’re not overreaching. How to choose the right type of goals. There’s multiple types of goals. How to create an action plan for your achieving your goals because you can’t achieve your goals without an action plan.

And then finally, creating a system for goals and how to. your goals, which will then create, uh, the right environment for you to achieve more in your next effort here. So if that sounds fun to you, stay tuned. This is gonna be fun. First, let’s talk about goal mindset. First thing that you need to know about goals.

So that goals are like muscles setting goals. Achieving goals, chasing goals, it’s like muscles. The first time you do it, it might feel a little bit awkward, but the more you do it, you start building those reps, you start building that muscle and it gets more comfortable. Just like the first time you go to the gym, you don’t bench press a whole bunch of weight.

You start with just the bar and that feels really heavy, and then it gets light over time, and then you’re able to add weight and, and, you know, achieve more with those muscles. Goals are the same way. So understand that the first time you do this, it might not feel comfortable, but you get better at it and the better you get at it, you understand what, what works for.

You understand how to better set goals and how to better pursue those goals. Second mindset piece that we need to understand that goals serve as directions just as much as they serve as destinations. This is a huge mistake that I see people make. They set this destination and they say, I’m gonna get there, and if I don’t get there, then I’ve failed.

but the truth and the real power of goals is that the goals that you set, sure it’s a great destination. We want to get there, but in the pursuit of that destination, we take that direction, we follow that direction, and that takes us somewhere. The saying says, you know, shoot for the stars and you might make it to the moon, which I think captures this well, if you.

Chase after something big, you don’t make progress. So goals, and this is a big reframe. It’s not just about achieving the goal, but about the momentum that you get, the progress that you make in pursuit of that goal. Thirdly, goals without systems. Just get abandoned. You have to have a system to bolster up to support the goal.

You can’t just set a goal and forget about it, and then come back a year later and be like, oh, that goal I didn’t achieve. Of course you didn’t achieve it cuz you didn’t have a system for achieving the goal. So we’re gonna talk about creating those system. Fourthly, in order to do goals, well you have to have a bias for action.

The best goals are the goals that are gonna get you moving forward, moving in a new direction, moving at a different pace. Kinds of things. Then finally, goals must be, should be thought of as iterative. What does that mean? That means that you are constantly iterating on them. You set it, you chase it. Then you revisit in your current context, looking back at where you’ve been over the interim time and then recommitting to that goal.

If that’s a goal that you want to keep pursuing, you keep moving that line, that that finish line further. , maybe pivoting it one way or the other in order to make sure that you keep moving in the direct. That iterative process is so essential to this. So that’s, those are the mindset pieces. Goals are like muscles.

Goals serve as directions just as much as destinations. Thirdly, goals without systems get abandoned. Fourthly, you have to have a bias for action with your goals. And then finally, goals should be iterative. The best goals are iterative, so let’s get. Choosing goals, uh, choosing the right level of goals, the types of goals, systems, and all of that.

Let’s talk about choosing the right goal for you. What goal is right for you at this time? That’s not a question that I can answer. It’s a question that only you can answer. If you go back in the feed to our last episode, I gave you my process for doing an annual review. That’s a really e. Step that can be really helpful for thinking about this question because you gives good context to this conversation.

I’m a firm believer that you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you have been. And so before you start thinking deeply about the goals that you want to set and what you wanna achieve, you need to spend some time thinking about where have you been, where, what has brought you the this far so that you can put these goals in the context of that life.

Some questions that can. If you’re stumped and you need help thinking about what kind of goals you are best for, you are questions like, who do you want to become? And that’s for identity based goals. Identity, uh, you know, you might want to, maybe this is the year where you become an entrepreneur or where you become a better leader or a better, um, you know, wife, husband, friend, brother, sister, father, mother, daughter, whatever might be.

Secondly, so, Who do you wanna become? Secondly, what do you want? What is it that you want to achieve? What is it that you want to have? What and why do you want? Why is that important to it, to you? And then finally, the third question. So who do you want to become? What do you want? And then thirdly, what needs to change?

Again, looking back at your life, looking back at your last year in. , what isn’t going well that you need to change. If you did the exercise, the health areas of life, health exercise that invited you to do in the annual review process, uh, last, in the last episode, then you’ll know there’s some gaps that you might want to address, some things that you might want to course correct on.

So what do you want to change? Answer those questions. That’ll give you a good direction to start thinking. The goals that you’re setting and what goals to choose next. In our process, we want to think about what is the right level of goals. It’s really easy to set a goal that’s so unrealistic that it doesn’t have any real meaning for you.

And it’s also really easy to be on the other end of the spectrum where a goal that you set is so simple that it doesn’t, it’s not meaningful cuz it’s not challenging enough. It’s helpful to think. That spectrum and this pendulum, , the pendulum can swing along that spectrum Comfort. Your comfort zone is right here on one end, and then overreaching is at the other end.

You want your goals to be somewhere in the middle, not too far towards overreaching, where it’s not even realistic, not too close to your comfort zone where it’s not even challenging. The studies show that you get further. And this is super essential. You get further by chasing after goals that are further reached, that are further out, that are harder for you, further outside your comfort zone.

That will take you further by then setting goals that are super realistic, goals that you feel very confident in. So I want to challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. Set a goal that will push you, that you’ll have to change h. Are in the world, the things that you’re doing in the world, who you are in the world, in order to achieve that goal, set that goal outside your comfort zone to get you.


We’ve talked about the goal mindset. We’ve talked about choosing what goals are right for you. Thinking about these questions, who do you wanna become? What do you want, and what needs to change Next? We talked about the choosing the right level, right outside your comfort zone to get you moving so that you’ll move further in pursuit of that goal.

Next, let’s talk about the. Of goals. There are a couple different things to keep in mind here. First, let’s talk about, um, a framework for measuring goals. GE pioneered this framework called the SMART framework. That’s an acronym, S M A R T. Uh, Michael Hyatt adds er to the end of that. So marcher is the word that stands for specific, meaning you can say when it’s done or not.

Measurable, meaning you can measure your progress measure. Done. Actionable. It’s kind of obvious, like it’s something you can take action that you can move the needle on. Uh, next you have the R for risky. We’ve already talked about that in getting you outside your comfort zone. T is for time bound that time.

Element saying that I’m gonna do this in that amount. I’m gonna give you some examples of, of what this looks like in practice in just a moment. But time bound, having a time constraint, and then the ER that Michael Hya adds is exciting and relevant. Exciting and relevant are very important. They come from putting your goal in the context of who you are right now, where you are right now.

Again, the annual or review can be really helpful with that process, but all this is to. If you looked at the goals that you, that you maybe were setting years ago and tried to apply them to who you are right now, they would just fall flat. They wouldn’t have any. So it has to be relevant and it has to feel exciting.

It has to be something that you want right now, that there has to be a good why behind it. Cuz goals are hard and that’s the nature of it. They’re hard, they’re exciting, they should be relevant to keep you, to get you moving and keep you moving. So that’s the smarter framework. I’m gonna give you some examples.

Hope you apply this to whatever it is that you want to pursue, but I’m talk about a couple other really important things. There’s both achieve. Based goals and habit based goals. And this is some something that, you know, people argue about these things. I don’t think it’s that important to, uh, to argue about, but let me just give you an example of, of the two different types.

I, uh, I like habits. Habits are great, but I don’t like habit goals as much. Habit goal is something like, I want to run every. This year. That’s a great goal and I did something very similar. Uh, but the problem with a habit based goal saying I’m committing to inhabit to a habit is that it’s really easy to fall off the train and feel like you’re, you failed.

Feel like it was, you know that, that you wasted all that. That time you had this long habit train coming, and then you got. Sick or whatever went on vacation, something happened, disrupted your routine, and you fell off the habit. And now your goal is trashed because you’re, you’ve broken the chain, you’ve, you’ve lost the habit, et cetera.

I prefer instead to, to think of, of an achievement goal than you build your habits to support that achievement goal. So for me, when I was just getting into. , I decided I wanted to run one mile every day, or the equivalent of one mile every day. But I didn’t want that to be a habit goal. I wanted to, I wanted to be an achievement based goal, which just has more flexibility in it in order for it to be an achievement goal.

My goal then was to run 365 miles in a year for me, starting at running. That those, that’s a lot of. For me, you know, years later as a, you know, well, uh, established runner, that’s not that many miles at all. I do three plus times that in my typical year of running, but at that time, that was huge. So I could do that by running one mile every day, or I could run.

Two miles every other day, or three miles every three days, et cetera. And that gives more flexibility in order to be able to take some time off and if I injured myself or if I got sick or like I said was on vacation or traveling, those kinds of things. So I think it’s very helpful to think in terms of achievement goals.

as much as possible, and then use your habits to support those goals. I’m sure there are, are exceptions. I’m sure there are things that, that, uh, you know, kind of break that mold and where habit, a habit based goal is, is best, but as much as possible, the habits are part of the action plan and the system that supports and bolsters up the goal, the achievement is the goal.

I wanna give you some ideas around what is a good goal that fits into this smarter framework that’s achievable, not habit based, as well as some that are not as good. So, some examples of good goals would be run a mar to run a marathon, to write a book, to buy a rental par Pro property, to code an app, you know.

Begin to fit into that smarter framework that really should also have a time bound nature that I’m going to run a marathon in, you know, three months or, you know, six months, whatever it might be. Um, write a book in tw in the next year, whatever it might be. Some bad goals that don’t work at all with the smarter framework are things like run.

Become a, uh, better writer, become more financially savvy, learn to code. Why? Because they’re less, they’re less specific and they’re less measurable. So we need to, as much as possible, tie those desires. Yeah. I want to become more financially savvy. That’s a great goal, but how can you put that into, um, a very, Immeasurable result.

Maybe buying a rental property, maybe you know, investing, um, a certain amount of, of money or, you know, whatever it might be. Um, running more. Running more is great or being healthier. Losing weight, all those are great, but maybe losing a certain amount of weight by a certain time or running a certain amount of miles by a certain time.

We’re running a certain race in a certain, at a certain speed or a certain pace. All of those are much. More specific, more measurable, which also means it’s, it’s, uh, pushes you more to achieve them and you know, when you’ve actually achieved them or if you have not achieved them. There could be some exceptions to this, right?

Where there’s softer skills like be being a good leader or, you know, relational things or spiritual goals, those kind of things that are harder to measure, but as much as possible, you should then break those down into. Actions that can be measured, even if the specific outcome is softer, fuzzier, what are the actions that accompany that outcome that then could have a, um, achievable result, achievable, um, goal to go along with it?

So maybe you want to be a better, um, a better, better father, right? You maybe for you to do that, you want to spend x amount of time in the next three months, um, on a weekly. with your kids intentionally investing in them, right? So it’s kind of habit based, but it’s really achievement based because you get to the end of those months and you can say, how many hours did I spend one-on-one with my kids?

And you can know if you are achieving that. Yeah, maybe that doesn’t necessarily one for one to equate to you being a better father, but a few goals like that related to your kids will get you much further than saying, I want to be a better father. And then just leaving it at that. All right. We have covered a lot.

All right. Already, and we have a little ways to go still. We’ve talked. Mindset and this idea, iterative process-centric approach to goal setting. Secondly, we talked about choosing the goals that are right for you and answering those questions of who do I wanna become, what do I want, and what needs to change Next, we talked about choosing the right level of goals, getting in that outside your comfort zone, stretch space that’s not over.

Reaching, but where it’s really asking you, causing you to, um, engage differently in the world, that that’s gonna get you further than a goal that’s very much achievable. Next, we talked about the types of goals. We talked about the smarter framework gave some kind high level, not super specific examples.

Again, it’s like you could be applying this to so many different things. We gave some examples of those. Talked about achievement versus habit. We talked about, um, good goals and bad goals and examples for, for that. . Now we wanna talk about your action plan. The first idea here is that all goals require an action plan.

You cannot just set a goal and then expect it to come true without an action plan behind that. So the first idea I want to, to, to talk about related to this is it’s so easy for us to get stuck in analysis paralysis where we say we want to do this or that we wanna research our way. Go through this to find the best path forward, when really the, the best thing that you can do is.

Taking action the best way. The I you, the best phrase that I, I love that just captures this, is this idea of ready, fire, aim. You fire first and then you aim, you figure it out, you iterate as you go. Similar ideas, this, that the idea that done is better than perfect. Perfectionism. Getting so focused on just doing it perfect, making sure that your path from here to achieving your goal is perfectly straight, perfectly clear cut is not gonna work.

What has to happen for most goals, especially the goals that are big and that are big stretch for you, the ones that you don’t even know how you’re gonna achieve, but you want to achieve them, is to just start. and that start, that starting point is to say, this is what I’m gonna do and I’m gonna start figuring it out how to do it.

So just getting that analysis paralysis, that perfectionism outta the way, so that then you can take action. You have to take action. So goals require action next. Secondly, Is this idea, the idea that you need to break your goal down if it’s a big goal, break it down into milestones and each of those milestones into steps.

Those steps then into tasks, and then create habits around anything that is repeatable. So the goals break down into milestones. The milestones break down into steps. Those steps break down into individual tasks that are achievable in one, uh, work session or, or in one effort. And then create habits that.

That effort. Maybe it’s the time that you work on your goals, work on those steps, work on those actions. Maybe it’s, um, you know, how it fits into the rest of your life. So then four more questions to help you create this action plan that you need. So you need to know that it requires action. You need to break it down into steps, into milestones and steps and tasks.

And then there’s four questions that you need to ask. First is, what do you need to. To achieve this goal. So what’s the information that you need to gather the, um, ideas you need to be able to have access to? Secondly, what do you need access to? What resources, tools, systems, networks. What do you need to have access to in order to accomplish your goal?

Third, who do you need in your corner to accomplish your goal? I think who is an essential question? The three categories I wanted to think you to think in. Accountability, your mentors, and then also gatekeepers or super connectors, the people who can connect you to more people. And then fourthly, your last question here is what would set you up best for success in this?

So with all of this in place, we can then begin to envision our goal set, our goal system. Having a goal system is the essential, most essential. To really keeping goals as a part of your life and helping using them to help you achieve what you want to achieve. And there’s four aspects to it, in my opinion.

The system that I use first is this mindset piece that goals are iterative and changeable. They have to be changing with you as you change A, because you are changing. Your goals have to change as you progress. Secondly is to keep your goals. Uh, for me that means writing them as often as possible, preferably writing them every single day.

Thirdly, another piece of that is reviewing your progress monthly or quarterly, or at least biannually annually at the bare minimum. But the more. you, uh, are checking in on your progress. The more you can assess whether or not the goal is still relevant, whether or not it needs to change in some way, and whether or not you’re actually moving, making progress in the way that you need to be making progress in order to achieve that goal.

So, um, have those monthly or quarterly, uh, check-ins and progress reviews on on your goals, on your efforts to see how far you. . And then finally along with those, as you review, you also need to reset and ask the question, do these goals still matter as much as they did when I set them? Things happen. Life changes, we change, and your goals have to change with you.

With all of that in mind, I feel like I’ve just given you so much, uh, information, but I hope that you will take this information and put it into practice if you would. Help with this. I have a goal audit sheet that asks all of these questions, not all of them, but many of these questions for you to fill out as you’re thinking about your goals so that you can create your process and, um, make sure that the goals that you’re setting are the kind of goals that are most effective for you.

You can find that at the meaning movement slash goals. Two, I should, I should make that 23, but it’s gonna be goals 22, the meaning And the number two, two there you’ll be able to go through and fill out this worksheet. A couple questions that people often ask me about goals is, first, how many goals, uh, should I set?

My bias with things like this is as few as possible, but as many as necessary For me, I, I, I want to be able to have just a num number of goals that I can, um, that I can actually keep in mind and focus on. Preferably, that’s three. If there’s more things in life that I need to be mo moving the needle on, then I would have maybe five, maybe seven, but I would also keep them.

Order so that you know what your top priority is, your one thing that you are chasing, and the others by nature have to fall by the wayside. They’re things that maybe you’re not working on as aggressively, but they’re things that you want to keep in mind. Secondly, people often say, I don’t know where, where to start when it comes with goals.

I don’t know if goals even, uh, even. , I wanna invite you to just try something. So first, do an annual review. Go back in the feed of this show and you can watch, listen to my inner review process and use the template there. You can also get that [email protected] slash review 22 and um, go through and review where you’ve been.

That should highlight some areas where there’s gaps in your life between where you are and where you want to be. Set some goals relevant to those gaps. To close those gaps, and to. Progress. So that’s another question I often get. Finally, I have a goal, but I. Have what I need to achieve it. What do I do?

That is a great question. My assumption then, if you have a goal that you really wanna chase after, but you don’t have the things that you need, then you need a different goal. Your goal should then be about. Acquiring the, the interim step, right? You’re reaching too far. You need something that’s more attainable, more, uh, within your grasp that still stretches you, but is actually achievable for you, right?

I could say I wanna make a billion dollars in the next year, but I’m not even making a million dollars. It’s not really gonna be possible, right? So make a goal that you can actually. Pursue actually achieve, even though it will take a big take, take, you know, a big stretch for you to get there. That’s the most common mistake that I see people make when they say, I don’t know how to to go about doing this.

I don’t know how to pursue my goal. It’s because that goal is irrelevant for them because of the nature of it. With that, I want to know where this takes you. I wanna know what questions you have, what I missed, so shoot me an email, Dan, at the meeting I’d love to. Uh, what you do with this. I’d love to hear any questions that you have.

I hope you use this to make your next year an epic year. Thanks so much for watching. Thanks for so much for listening. This is The Meaning Movement podcast. Hit that subscribe button wherever you are watching or listening. Leave a rating and review if you can. If you’re an entrepreneur, you want help, course correcting in your entrepreneurial journey. Shoot me an email as well. I’d love to share about the accelerator that I’m building. Invite you to be a part of it. Thanks so much. I’ll see you next week.

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