ArticlesGoal Setting

How To Find Lasting Goals

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If you, just by coincidence, read my short article about pleasure and pain called "The cockroach test", you know already why exhilarating business goals are important. For the major rest of readers here is a brief summary.

Pleasure and pain are the two states human life bounces in between. At the very basic level we all want to avoid pain and gain pleasure. The strategies we use to achieve this can totally unhealthy and inappropriate, like drugging ourselves with alcohol, or very smart, like taking control over our own emotions and evoking the emotion we need. However, whatever we do, at the very bottom it is something we think releases pain or increases pleasure.

What is pleasurable is very individual but to strive for pleasure is not. Let me give you an example. Donald Trump finds it pleasurable to be the first in everything. Being a winner is ultimate pleasure for him. All he does is focused toward that goal. It is his way to gain ultimate pleasure.

On the other hand there was Mother Theresa. She found ultimate pleasure in helping orphans to survive. Her whole life was dedicated to contribute. Both, Donald Trump and Mother Theresa, have the same final goal. Pleasure. The means to reach it, the things they find pleasure in though are very different.

Finding the most powerful goal for you is as easy as finding the most pleasurable thing you can think of. Exploring what excites you most, what could totally energize you is the way to do it.

Before I will give you a technique to find your personal ultimate pleasure you need to learn a bit more about how pain and pleasure work.

Pain is a warning signal. It shows something is wrong. When our ancestors still lived in caves pain was the signal that made them aware of a vital threat. Being injured for example was almost always lethal. So the brain developed a way to warn them. Fear. Fear is pain as we all know. Fear triggers two possible strategies, fight or flight. And fighting is riskier than fleeing. Because the risk to be injured during a fight is higher, we tend to choose strategy two. Flight. This is not cowardice but smart. It is our basic scheme of acting. It takes strong believes to overcome this. Believes like patriotism for example.

Because pain is so important it has more weight than pleasure. Getting rid of pain usually is a stronger motivator than gaining pleasure.

Bottom-line: You need a very clear and passionate imagination of a pleasurable state to overcome the tendency to avoid pain.

This is the reason why most goals don't work. They do not evoke the unstoppable desire to reach them. They are not pleasurable enough to motivate us in the face of every day's pain. And because they lack the power to impassionate us constantly we eventually give up to reach them.

Again, a goal that is not desirable enough to energize us every single day that makes us feel vivacious only by imagining it is too weak for a business goal.

Now, how to find a goal that is extraordinary enough to drag us towards it even against pain?

I like to introduce you the "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" exercise. It is developed by Anthony Robbins and I like to use it for my personal goal setting as well as to develop business goal for my clients.

It is a little bit like a balance sheet and a future projection. Get yourself three pieces of paper and title the first "5 years ago", the second "today" and the third "5 years from now". Please do it in hand writing.

Now make 3 columns on every sheet and title the second column "Score" and the third "sentence". Leave the first column untitled.

Make ten rows on every sheet and write into the rows of the first column:

* Physically

* Mentally

* Emotionally

* Attractiveness

* Relationships

* Living environment

* Socially

* Spiritually

* Carrier

* Financially

Start with the sheet "5 years ago" and fill it out. Give each category a score between 0, 0 meaning you had absolutely nothing in this area and 10 you where absolutely living your life's desire in that category.

Just do the score and leave the sentence clean for now.

Once you did the score write a short sentence into the third column to describe where you where 5 years ago in that category. Something like "I was pretty fit, worked out every day but felt I still needed improvement".

Take your time and try to remember what you where like in each category.

Now step to the next sheet and do the same exercise only now you score and describe where you are today.

You have now 2 sheets that you can compare. What has changed where? What progress have you made? Where have you reached your expectations and where have you not? Have you improved in some categories? Are there areas you have not reached what you wanted to reach?

Now to the last part of the exercise.

Before you fill it out, make sure you look at pleasure. The goal is not to be a 10 in every category but to find the most pleasurable state in every category and describe it.

Take sheet 3 and fill it out. Where do you want to be in 5 years in every category? How do you want to score? Write down what exactly you want to reach in each category. Do you want to be physically at 10? Write down what it would take to get there. Financially 10? Write down what it means to you and what must happen to get there.

If you have done this exercise you have a pretty good idea about what matters most in your life and where you want to be. You have the blueprint for your goals.

Now, as a last step I want you to dream.

"We are what and where we are because we have first imagined it" - Donald Curtis

Imagine that there was no way you could fail. Just for a moment. Dream it. You can not fail. Whatever you want to achieve you shall achieve it. What would that be you want to achieve? See it as you have achieved it already, hear what you would hear, feel what you would feel the moment you have reached it.

Dream the goals of the high score categories in your "in 5 years sheet". What feels best? Which one is the brightest most compelling? Which one drags you most?

Once you have done this, you have a clear understanding what goals in your life have the highest potential to motivate you constantly.

Focus your business around these highly desirable goals. Find a business idea that incorporates these goals and you have a great chance of success.

This article may published freely only in its whole including all appendices.

c 2005 by Norbert Haag

Online Business Coach

Norbert Haag is a business consultant, entrepeneur and sought after speaker for more than 20 years. His company - Online Business Coach - provides information and services for online businesses, small business owners and freelancers.

You can reach Norbert at

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