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Why you should forget your goals

When I was a young and innocent I attended a cheesy, guru-ish personal development seminar where I was taught about the power of goals. Up until then, I had just bumbled through life satisfying my wants and needs.  I had never really got strategic about setting goals for the future.

Sitting in this seminar, watching this guru talk about the law of attraction and the power of goal setting… blew me away. I have never experienced anything like it. This guy was promising the secret to creating the future and it could be any future I desired!

I don’t mind admitting that I was entranced. I could see all these glorious, desirable goals, glimmering in my future. I got totally carried away and decided to pursue one.

I set myself the goal of having ten thousand dollars in my bank account, in six months time.

Keep in mind, I was very young and didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur at all. I was “just a therapist” and I sure had my own problems. As far as I could tell, ten thousand dollars would solve them all.

The guru told me I didn’t need to know how I would achieve my goal. He said that merely setting it would cause the universe to bring it to me. I’ll bet you’ve heard, or read, this kind of thing before.

Following his instructions, I visualised myself on the specific day of October 16th. I imagined reading the numbers “$10,000” on my online bank balance. I was “manifesting” the specific evidence that my goal had been achieved. I focused on it like crazy!

How naive.

Want to know the crazy thing? I achieved it. Six months rolled around and on that day, not only did I have ten thousand dollars, I had another twenty six for good measure. My bank balance read $36,000.

True story. I had thirty six thousand in cash, sitting in the bank.

Thinking back, I’m filled with regret.

The next day, I had less than thirty six. The next day even less. In six months time, I had a couple of thousand I was holding onto. Sure, I had a wealth of amazing experiences and some hilarious photos to prove it, but the money had dwindled fast. In a year, I was in debt.

Young and naive, I had made a false and costly assumption:

Money = Financial Freedom. WRONG!

Money equals a party. Financial freedom has nothing to do with your bank balance.

I had set myself a sexy goal and worked my butt off to make it happen. Yes, I got “lucky” too, although I believe we create our own luck. I achieved my goal and then it left me. My goal did the cosmic equivalent of going for cigarettes. I was left bitter, disappointed and heart broken.

Since that happened, I’ve focused myself and all my clients on creating the habit of financial freedom. It isn’t a sexy goal. It’s no fun, it’s hard work and there is no golden moment of ultimate achievement. You can’t put a date on it.

Habits might have none of the excitement of goals, but they’re better. Habits are always there for you, unlike the fly-by-night, badass goals you dream of. They’re sustainable, which means they stay with you day after day.

A habit builds momentum and power

Make a habit of writing 1000 words per day. In six months you’ll be a significantly superior writer. Sitting down to write won’t be the motivational struggle it used to be. The same goes for fitness, finances and any area you’d care to build a positive habit.

As an entrepreneur, make a habit of earning far more than you spend. The habit, unlike a static goal, is scalable. It will ensure that even if you’re racing Ferraris or subsiding on a $20k budget, nothing will spin out of control.

A goal creates achievement, celebration and good vibes on the day it is ticked off. A well tended habit creates consistent, incremental and exponential success over a lifetime.

What habits would you like to create?


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  1. This is why I like the 37 Signals model of building a company. If you force yourself to earn what you spend, then it forces you to be profitable. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.

    I’m very goal oriented, but I found that they changed so often that I just need to find my rhythm instead. That works for me.

  2. Awesome stuff Peter I really enjoyed this post and it got me thinking seriously yeah around goals, I never quite grasped the concept of goal setting not so much what it is and bla bla how to go about it, but like “what for?”

    I resonated much more with the “well tended habit creates……..!

    Great content Peter, value! And congratulations, what an amazing incredible website!!

  3. The online world is evolving at a rapid pace. I like the idea of habit creation over setting goals that don’t create sustainable results.

    I’ve found that weekly and monthly goals work best for me. Having a 5 year goal is dead! or at least its not something that should be preached anymore.

    I believe in having a 5 year VISION…then simply having weekly and monthly goals of getting results. When new opportunities come along I have an open mind and as long as its on the track I want to be, I’ll take ’em. Following this process can form some awesome habits of focusing on one building block at a time.

    Amazing things can happen when you break them down to simple steps.

    1. Hey Tony,

      I think you’ve got a *really* important point here. In an area where business models are evolving so quickly, anyone who sticks rigidly to a 5 year game-plan is going to get left in the dust by those who are more flexible.

      To me, creating habits is about finding the simplest of simple steps… working out what does need to be consistent, even if the external world is evolving and changing rapidly.

      Habits of profitability, daily-writing, daily-exercise, weekly planning (the list goes on)….. they can’t be beat!

      Great comment man – serious insight.

      Everyone else? Watch this guy, he’s gonna be a game-changer.

      1. I often ask my clients what their goal is for this year, two years, and five years – and I tell them to imagine what life is like the day of that five-year goal.

        Most have never considered it. And the question rocks them back on their heels.

        That said, you’re right, Peter. I have my five-year vision – where I’d like to be at that point – and I try to make everything I do NOW help me achieve that (or almost everything, ha!)… but I’m very flexible. I keep the target in sight but I definitely do shift my aim depending on the winds and variable factors.

  4. Hey Peter,
    Great writing and I echo the previous comments and will enjoy this blog as you develop layer upon layer of value and insight.

    Habits – a word that has significant connotations for many who are attempting to develop new ‘good’ habits and yet we are often completely unaware of many of our ‘routine’ habits – like our morning routine.

    Habits are neutral – some enhance our lives, some destroy us.
    Thank you Peter

  5. Hi Peter,

    Fantastic post! I believe creating “good habits” equals setting “good examples” in most situations. Since my passion revolves around horses it’s important to me to set good examples, be consistent and continue to work on my leadership skills. All which are great “habits” that will help keep me safe around horses.

    The “good habits” people will observe from others can be very powerful not only with horses but with most anything.

    I love your statement “A well tended habit creates consistent, incremental and exponential success over a lifetime.” What a great quote!

    Take care.

  6. I totally think that the whole “law of attraction” thing is BS. However, I do believe that imagining yourself achieving your goals is very powerful. Not in the sense of calibrating the universe, but in keeping a clearer focus on what your working for.

    Working with smaller easy to achieve goals as way to reach your big goal is definitely the way to go. I don’t how many times my “big” goals have changed over the last 5 years as my live and family have grown.

    The “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” phrase comes to mind. You have to be able to change directions and tweak your goals as life changes around you.

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