A Google search for “goal setting” turns 960 million results in 0.90 seconds. Amazon yields 10,000 outcomes for the same keyword. It’s hard to dispute the importance of goal setting with such impressive numbers. However, such a wealth of materials makes the identification of successful goal-setting tools a daunting task. While there are many theories on how to achieve our objectives, every scholar agrees to set and reach one’s goal; we need a purpose, a strategy, and a goal typology. Together, they represent the groundwork of all worthwhile goal-setting endeavors. Effective time management, accountability, and unwavering self-discipline, amongst others, are meaningless without a foundation built on those three pillars.

You needn’t read through all the books on goal setting in the library, browse through countless materials on the internet, or attend expensive seminars. Those three foundational techniques will steer you in the right direction. All you need is a goal where you can immediately apply those principles. You won’t learn how to lose weight, get your dream job, or overcome stage fright, but you’ll master the principles to build the structure to reach your goal. Do you have your goal ready? If so, read on…

Your Purpose

Ask yourself: why is this goal important? That question will help you uncover and articulate the drive behind your commitment. Knowing your intent is critical for two reasons. First, when working toward your goals, you’ll experience extended periods of complacency and laziness. Just like the waves of the ocean, motivation fluctuates continuously. Motivation’s continuous and cyclical variation forms an integral part of life. It’s inconceivable that someone’s motivation is at its peak 365 days. The best is to adapt and adjust our sails to those ebbs and flows. Reconnecting with your purpose makes it easier to break the cycle of boredom, panic, and lack of motivation.

Setting goals means you’ll encounter defeats on your journey. How do you bounce after a setback? The most effective way is by reaffirming your purpose. James Buster Douglas defeating Mike Tyson at the Tokyo Dome on February 11, 1990, stems from his drive to honor his mother who died 23 days before the fight. Obviously, there’re many reasons for Douglas’s victory, but none so great as his commitment to satisfying his mum’s prediction that he would beat Mike Tyson. When the going gets tough, your drive will energize and propel you forward.

A purpose can be anything: fame, fortune, learning, winning, etc. They may vary in intensity, but they’re all equally important to goal setting. Consider two of the greatest investors of all time, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison. Tesla was never motivated by material possessions; they often attribute his accomplishments to his bright mind and drive to create. However, Edison, besides his obvious genius and passion for invention, was a savvy businessperson. Both men achieved outstanding success despite their views on financial wealth. Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle, admits in an interview getting out of poverty was one of his primary drives. I could go on and on. Never let the meaning, larger-than-self, help-other mantras stop you. If money is the momentum behind your hard work, don’t feel guilty. Keep it to yourself and put in the hours.

An Elaborate Strategy

Massive success implies personal abilities, luck, above all, a strategy. Since we have little influence on environmental factors and our innate talents, our most reliable weapon is a game plan. Devising a strategy involves identifying your long, medium, and short-term goals. Your medium and short-term goals represent the means of assessing your progress toward your long-term goal. They answer the questions: what does achieving your goal look like? How will you know you’re making headway? That’s the meaning of Peter Drucker’s famous quote: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” To be effective, our medium and short-term goals must be as specific as possible; your long-term goal needn’t be if it’s over a year.

Goal Typology

I assume anyone reading this article already has a busy existence with several activities competing for their time and energy. To fit goals harmoniously with other aspects of your life, you must categorize them. Doing so will prevent you from focusing unduly on one activity and harming another. Our life is a system, not a heap; the whole depends on the effective workings of each separate part. You can assign your goals to one of these categories: financial, self-development, relationship, family, leisure, health, and spiritual. You needn’t sacrifice your well-balanced life while working toward your goals.


What now? Reading this article is only the beginning of the long and winding journey toward achieving your goal. With your firm foundation in place, you’re ready to find the resources relevant to your specific goal.