Are you the type of person who tunes out every time you hear the words “goal setting”?
Most likely, you are someone that is into personal development. You know for sure that the most talked about personal development topic is goal setting. You hear it everywhere:
“Successful people set goals”
“You must set goals in your life”
“What are you goals?”
I have frequently tuned out every time I’ve heard “goal setting” come up on a podcast, speech, or YouTube video. I’d almost fill-in the words of what the person would say about it because I’ve heard everything about the topic.
If setting goals is important for success, why didn’t I like them? It’s because I’ve set so many goals in my life and never hit them. Most times, I’d make no progress and even went backwards on my goals. What hurts even more is when I have told family and friends about my goals and didn’t have a suitable response when they asked about it later. I felt shame in front of them because I didn’t accomplish something I told them I would. When you have failed to achieve so many goals, it’s natural to feel disappointed and not want to set them again. Why bother?
You may have also become disillusioned with the idea of goal setting. Perhaps you are tired of hearing about them all the time, like I was. You too have set so many goals that you have failed to accomplish. You don’t want to hear another person tell you that setting goals is important. Perhaps goal setting is just not for you.
The truth is that I was wrong, and I knew it. Goals are necessary, but most people don’t have the right perspective on them, let alone know how to set them.
If you don’t want to read another newsletter about goal setting, I would advise that you at least read this one. Rather than write about goal setting, I want to zoom out a bit and share a concept that I like to call Sharp Goals.
I struggled with goals because they weren’t sharp enough. This is likely the case for you as well. Let me explain sharp goals.
Dots Per Inch Analogy
Take a look at this image. Is it very clear?
A few people might recognize this image, many will not.
What about this image?
Wow! Big difference. All we did was increase the dots per inch (the number of digital pixels per inch of space) by 2 points and it made a big difference in the sharpness of the image.
If you don’t know by now, this is the famous painting of The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Lets increase the DPI by 2 more points:
We can start to see more details of Mona Lisa’s face as well as the landscape in the background.
Let’s keep going:
At 10 DPI we can see almost all the details of the image. Simply jumping from 1 to 10 DPI caused an exponential increase in sharpness of the image.
Just for giggles, let’s jump from 10 DPI to 96 DPI:
The image is now much sharper and way better to look at!
Set Sharper Goals
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to interchange the words “goals” and “resolutions” even though they are technically not the same.
If you ask 100 people about their new year’s resolutions, 99 of them will respond with something like this:
Lose weight Drink more water Go to sleep earlier Drink less alcohol Stop smoking Travel more Discover my passion Spend more time with family Be a better person Find love Make more money
At the end of the year, talk to those 99 people again and ask them if they accomplished their resolution. All of them will say “no”. This is because they set their resolutions to 1 DPI. It’s not very sharp, hence not clear.
When something is not clear, it doesn’t hold your attention. The 1 DPI image of the Mona Lisa is not as attractive to look at compared to the 96 DPI version. When we add more colors and pixels to the digital canvas, the image becomes clearer and sharper.
Our goals work the same way. When we add more details to our goals, they become very sharp. Sharp goals are attractive and stand out more in our minds. What does sharpening a goal look like? Let’s take the most common resolution people have - losing weight:
“Losing weight” is a 1 DPI goal
”Losing 10 lbs” is a 5 DPI goal
”Losing 10 lbs in 30 days” is a 10 DPI goal
”Losing 10 lbs in 30 days by doing intermittent fasting and cardio 3 times a week” is a 72 DPI goal
”Losing 10 lbs in 30 days by doing intermittent fasting and cardio 3 times a week. This allows me to have more energy and look better, which will give me confidence and help me overcome my social anxiety”. This is a sharp, 96 DPI goal
Sharpness is specificity - the more specific a goal is, the more motivation you have to accomplish it because it’s more attractive.
Let’s do another one - money:
1 DPI: “I want to make more money”
5 DPI: “I want to make $100,000”
10 DPI: “I want to make $100,000 by the end of this year”
72 DPI: “I want to make $100,000 by the end of this year through my e-commerce business selling apparel”
96 DPI: “I want to make $100,000 by the end of this year through my e-commerce business selling apparel. This will allow me to quit my 9-5 job and have the freedom and flexibility to live in a warmer climate and have more time for family.”
The more specific a goal is, the more you can picture it in your mind. You can boost the sharpness of a goal by identifying why it’s important to you. How will accomplishing this goal change your life? A strong “why” dramatically increases a goal’s sharpness.
To maintain the sharpness of a goal, you give it sustained thought. If you think about your goal all the time, get around people pursuing that goal, and consume content related to the achievement of that goal, the more clarity and desire you create for it.
Further Sharpen Your Goals
What is better: listening to a song on Spotify from your favorite artist or going to a concert to watch them perform?
What about visiting a new country versus watching tour videos about it on YouTube?
The answer is obvious. You can dial up the sharpness of your goals by exposing yourself to experiences that make them real. My mentors would call this dream building. For example, if one of my goals was to move to Latin America and live the tropical lifestyle of beaches, good food, low cost of living, beautiful women, and immense culture, it could help to visit a Latin American restaurant in my city and taste the food instead of watching recipe videos on YouTube.
A better move would be to actually visit a Latin American country for 2 weeks and experience life out there. I get to immerse myself in my dreams. Feel, smell, and taste it. Another example of dream building that I’ve done before is walked into a luxury car dealership and test drive a car that I want to own in the future.
Dream building allows you to sample your goals. It’s like converting a black and white film to a vibrant 4K color HD experience. The point here is to get as close as possible to your goals so that they become more believable to you.
When your goals become really sharp, you will notice tiny opportunities in your day-to-day life that move you closer towards that goal. These opportunities may come to you as information that you see online or in a book. Or as a person you meet who can help you out. I’ve noticed in my life that when I pay attention to a goal that is important to me, I’m suddenly finding opportunities in my life that start leading me towards that goal.
How to Dull a Sharp Goal
If sustained thought maintains the sharpness of a goal, what decreases it? Unsustained thought, best known as distractions. A distraction is anything that pulls your attention away from a worthwhile thought or action. Constant distractions lower the DPI of your goals. It’s like painting a beautiful picture while simultaneously splattering unnecessary paint on the canvas. You spend extra time and effort painting over the unwanted marks and the painting never gets done.
The information age that we currently live in is the most distracting that we’ve ever faced. Smartphones, social media, and push notifications have created a perfect storm of distractions for so many people. It’s the biggest barrier that prevents people from accomplishing anything. Distractions and how to handle them are too big to discuss for this newsletter. Just understand that it is the biggest roadblock to creating and achieving your sharp goals. You must maintain single-minded focus towards the achievement of your goals.
Practical Steps to Increase the Sharpness of Your Goals
Specificity matters with creating sharp, attractive goals. It’s good to identify a high level “want” (”I want to lose weight” or “I want to make money”) - this adds the first layer of paint to the canvas. As you continue to work on developing your goal and applying sustained thought to it, you will naturally create more details. Here are some practical steps to help you get started.
1. Writing - there is power to putting thoughts on paper. Pick a high level goal that you want to achieve and start writing about it. If you feel stuck, ask the following questions to help get you started:
Why did I pick this goal?
What does this goal mean to me?
What would happen to me if I accomplish this goal?
What would happen to me if I didn’t accomplish this goal?
When do I want to achieve this goal?
How would I feel If I accomplished this goal?
Who is someone I know that has accomplished this goal?
Who else will benefit when I accomplish this goal?
Where can I find information on accomplishing this goal?
You don’t need to answer all of these questions. Just pick what feels easiest and start writing your answers. Often times, when you start writing, your mind will generate more ideas and detail. The idea here is to just start writing and let your imagination run.
2. Consume content - watch videos, listen to podcasts, and read books related to your goal. If your goal is to make more money, consume content from people that have made a lot of money and are sharing how they did it. Note down ideas that resonate with you the most.
One of my goals is to live abroad in a country that is safe and has a low cost of living while making money in US dollars through an online business. This allows me to have a lifestyle much better than what I currently have in the United States.
I’m sharpening this goal by listening to podcasts and watching videos on the digital nomad lifestyle. I’m following successful digital nomads on Twitter and educating myself about countries and cities that are very welcoming for digital nomads. The more I consume this content, the more ideas I have about how I want to achieve this goal. My desire for this goal increases as a result.
A note of caution: it’s easy today to fall into the content consumption trap. Be aware of this. The purpose of consuming content is to educate yourself and go into a frame of mind that is oriented towards your goal. It’s a tool to facilitate sustained thought in your goal. Solely consuming content never replaces taking action towards your goal. It should simply aid you in your efforts.
3. Meet people - this is my favorite way of sharpening of my goal. Find people that have either accomplished your goal or are on the path to accomplishing your goal. There is tremendous power in getting around people that are where you want to be in life. You activate the law of association, which states that you become the type of person you hang around with the most. Being around people that are like us is a natural human tendency because we are biologically wired to be communal. Subconsciously, we want to be accepted by the people we associate with, so we will act in ways that will allow us to be accepted by our peer group. Use this to your advantage to become the type of person that you want to be to accomplish your goal.
Where do you find like-minded people? Everywhere! The internet has made it so easy to find people that have interests similar to yours. Use platforms like Eventbrite, Meetup, and Facebook Events to find online and in-person events. As I am writing this, I jumped on Eventbrite, searched for “Digital Nomad” and found one online and one in-person event in my city about networking with other digital nomads. I signed up for both of them. It’s really that easy!
Follow people online that are successful and have achieved your goal. There is a high chance that they have a community of people that are also pursuing that goal. Plug into those communities. Be a part of their Facebook groups, Discord servers, or Telegram chats.
Make networking and building relationships with people that are pursuing your goals a top priority. It’s a shortcut to accomplishing anything you want in life.
4. Visualization - this is literally seeing your goal, either in your mind’s eye, or physically through pictures and video. Our imagination is the most powerful mental faculty that God has given us. With imagination, we have the free rein to create any sort of mental image in our minds.
Want to have a body of a Greek god? Close your eyes and imagine yourself with a 6-pack and an adonis belt. Want to be with the love of your life? Imagine that person cuddling next to you in bed. Want to live and work on the beach in Bali? You can take that trip right now in your mind and visualize yourself there.
Does visualization actually help you accomplish your goals? Yes, and it’s scientifically proven! Ask Dr. Joe Dispenza. Doctor Joe teaches thousands of people the science of visualization, meditation, and who how to use them to accomplish the life of their dreams. His YouTube channel has hundreds of testimonials of people who have done everything from curing chronic diseases, finding love, landing their dream careers, and creating wealth. His work has been a huge perspective shifter for me and it’s worth checking out.
It’s pretty amazing what the mind can do. It is the most powerful supercomputer that can help you accomplish any goal in life. While visualization helps you see your goal in complete detail, this next step is absolutely required in order to actually accomplish to your goal.
5. Go to work - have you ever drove in a dense fog? Notice that as you drive forward, the road ahead gradually becomes clearer. What was once unseen now becomes seen. However, if you stand still, you cannot see past a certain point in front of you.
Pursuing your goals works the same way. As you take action and perform the daily habits that are tied to your goal, you develop more clarity and awareness. You gain new information about your goal that you didn’t know before. This information becomes innate and a deeper sense of wisdom develops. This only happens by taking action. No amount of content consumption and visualization can substitute putting in the work.
Doing the work is what actually moves the needle forward for accomplishing your goal. This is a non-negotiable step for everyone.
By now, you should understand the importance of being specific with your goals and how to sharpen them.
Goal setting became an enjoyable for me again because I had a better understanding of how to set them. I felt empowered to become the architect of my life when I had the tools to create my own blueprint for success.
If you need a framework to follow to help you gain clarity with your goals, I’ve created this free ebook that will guide you along the way. I will share a perspective on how to simplify your life and craft goals that are not only clear but also provide you with limitless motivation to accomplish them.
Clear, specific goals are a critical to getting anything you want to in life. Make it a priority to sharpen your goals every day. It’s one of the highest leverage activities that you can perform. Your future self will thank you for it.