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How To Set Goals

December 15th, 2008 by Kevin Ngo

If you’re reading this post on how to set goals, either you’ve never set goals before, or you’re curious if this technique is different than from what you already know. Goal setting is pretty basic so you can probably go onto the next post on how to achieve goals if you already know how to set goals. Yes, there’s a difference.

Setting goals is like setting up bowling pins. If you set it up correctly, knocking them down will be easier. If you happen to miss, don’t worry, unlike in bowling, you have more than just 2 tries. It doesn’t matter how you do it or how many tries it takes, as long as you knock those pins down, you’re golden. Now if you set those pins up incorrectly, knocking them down will be a lot harder and you might just end up quitting.

Here’s what I mean about setting your goals correctly. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, flexible, and have a deadline.

How To Set Goals: Goals need to be...


Not being specific is like setting each pin on a different lane, it’s too spread out. You’re going to spend way too much time walking from lane to lane. If you’re vague about what you want, you won’t have any focus and will be spending more time and energy than you have to. If you want more money, my question is how much? If you want a new car, what model, what make, what color? You get the idea.


A goal not being measurable is like not knowing if a pin has been knocked down or not. If you can’t measure your progress to see whether or not you’re getting closer to your goal, you’ll be running in circles. You’ll be trying to knock down a pin that’s already knocked down or isn’t even there. Or worse, you get on someone else’s lane and knock their pin down while actually believing that you’re knocking down your own pin. (Working your whole life to make your boss/master rich… in case you didn’t get that joke)

Other people need to be able to look at your progress and be able to tell whether or not you’re getting closer to your goals. Financial goals are easy to measure. Weight goals are easy to measure. A goal to be happier isn’t. How do you even measure that? A better goal would be to laugh for 30 seconds, 20 times a day.


A goal that isn’t attainable is like trying to get a strike using a ping pong ball. Some people will advise to set gigantic goals, even if you feel it’s too far out of your reach because who knows what you’re capable of, anything is possible.

Although I believe each of us have possibilities far beyond our current beliefs about what we can do, I also believe we need to be intelligent. Thinking you can go from 0 to $1million by tomorrow isn’t intelligent and neither is losing 25 lbs by dinner time without surgery.

This doesn’t mean to set small easy goals however. You want to set goals that are “out of reach, but not out of sight”. They need to be big enough to force you to grow, get out of your comfort zone, but not too big to the point you believe it will take a miracle to accomplish. Yes, miracles happen, but I wouldn’t bet on it.


A goal not being flexible is like continuing to bowl with a ball that’s way too heavy or doesn’t fit your fingers. You’ll find that many times your original path towards your goal won’t end up being the one that will lead to your goal. If your goal is to lose weight and starving yourself hasn’t given your long lasting results, find another way. Be flexible enough to change directions and take a different path if necessary as long as it leads to your goal.


Having a goal without a deadline is like rolling the ball once then saying you’ll roll the ball again 2 years from now and expect the other players to be okay with that. A goal without a deadline is a dream. It’s never going to happen. It’s when you set a time frame upon which you will accomplish the dream by, will it become a goal. If there isn’t a deadline, what reason would you have to even get started? It’s like saying you’ll clean your garage when you get around to it and actually believing you’ll somehow get around to it.

So there you have it. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, flexible, and have a deadline. You now know how to set goals. Now go set up those pins!

In the next post, I will discuss how to actually achieve those goals once you have them set up. How to set goals and how to achieve them are different, find out how.

Seriously, now that you know how to set goals, actually take the time to do it. Your life won't change by reading. It changes by doing.

Until next time...

Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.

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