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creating to do lists

Goal Getting Made Easy!

by Robert McEntee on August 10, 2011

“When you discover your mission you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”                              W. Clement Stone

The problem with goal setting is people often aim to achieve something that is incongruent with more pressing desires. For example someone may want to lose weight and they realize they will need to start a regular exercise program. However long hours at work are keeping them away from their family and resolving this sense of deterioration in close personal relationships is of utmost concern. This leads to a vicious cycle as they then feel bad about not achieving their weight loss goal.

What helps is to spell out the benefits to your subconscious mind and mentally resolve all internal conflicts before setting the goal. If the person above spends just a little time analyzing the situation, they will observe that if they lose weight they will feel better, and therefore be able to enjoy their time with family more and probably be around longer to do so as well! They also may come up with a compromise on the time factor; perhaps some of the family time could involve athletic activities.

Goals are best set in the positive rather than the negative tense. For example, regarding weight loss say, “By July 1st, I weigh X” (the desired weight) rather than “I’m losing weight” which draws focus back to the problem of excess weight. It’s difficult for the subconscious mind to distinguish a negative concept from a positive one. Notice the pattern of beginning with the end in mind, so the steps needed to work backwards to achieve it become apparent. Setting specific, measurable goals in the positive & present tense is the key.

The whys of goal setting are critical to achieving the whats. Once the mind has a clear vision of the desired outcome and resulting sense of well being, the hows become easier. We often need to sell ourselves on a course of action by clearly relating why it is important to an overall mission. It has often been said that people buy what they want and justify it by creating a sense of need. Similarly your goal needs to be something you really want. This is why people who haven’t really found a sense of purpose for their life, seem to find it harder to set and achieve goals. Just the act of setting your goals on paper forces a valuable review of where you are headed.

Once you know what lights your fire you will find it easier to gather kindling wood. The required work is then really play. Goal setting for creative types and entrepreneurs who love the work like play, can be more challenging since they are drawn to too many wonderful objectives, which all seem attainable. Yet in our brief span on Earth, “Every choice is a thousand relinquishments”, so one must consciously prioritize what they want to achieve in the available time.

The big goal is best broken down into smaller projects with timelines for completion set. This is disciplined fun, blending the radical with rational mind sets. Working from a list really helps clarify objectives. Creating a daily list is best, however I found too many days slipped away without my doing so. I probably would have stopped doing it all together as frustration increased, if I hadn’t switched to a weekly list. I typically create this on Sunday evenings as I briefly compare last week’s accomplishments to its list, transfer outstanding items and add new items, to create next week’s list. You’ll have to experiment to see what system you find most beneficial and then stick to it, even if you miss doing so occasionally.

If you’ve never used a set of written goals or desired outcomes, you probably don’t realize how it increases productivity. Perhaps before going on a trip you have written down what needs to get done before leaving, and saw how much you complete when deadlines are specified and tasks are organized. A short term to do list, and a longer term goal plan should be used as part of an overall system.

Just clearly establishing objectives by itself increases achievement and also activates the unconscious mind, resulting in further benefit as discussed in previous articles. You are now really involved or committed, having used three senses to write your objectives, sight, touch and sound. Most people don’t smell or taste the paper, but that’s up to you!

Interesting studies have been done on our visual-mental processing systems. If a person in a darkened room looks at a chart filled with words immediately after the lights are briefly turned on, typically they can’t make any out. However if the person is simply instructed to focus on one small section of the chart when the lights come on, they can comprehend some words. So too we must focus on particular tasks in our life by defining them clearly, best done by writing them out.

Consistently achieving goals is one of the biggest self esteem boosters around. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything you are not getting to. However once you know that you’re at least doing something about these uncompleted items you can rest easier, even if it’s just a small step. Studies show writing objectives down increases chances of attainment and I can personally say also frees the mind to contemplate more lofty ideals!

One last BIG tip: Do the most difficult or resisted thing FIRST each day! What we resist, persists as they say, and it’s usually what most needs doing. To paraphrase Brian Tracy, if you had to eat a live frog but did it first thing in the morning, the rest of the day would be like a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, be sure to reward yourself each time you do achieve a goal. So here’s to a piece of cake and achieving YOUR mission! I welcome your comments.

Here are a couple of great books/audios which more fully explain the above.

Goals (Brian Tracy

Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves (Robert Ringer)

Getting Things Done (David Allen)

Ready for Anything (David Allen)