Setting Big Goals: 9 Crucial Elements To Know


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The process of setting big goals has been over-complicated by many experts, in my opinion. I suggest that setting big goals and achieving them is similar to achieving smaller goals. But, you must be much more motivated, focused and consistent when setting big goals compared to small goals because they are much less forgiving than smaller goals.

You also need to be much more diligent, disciplined and aware of any negative thoughts associated with your huge goal.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose all your momentum when going after a goal that is far more challenging than you’re used to.

Huge goals also take more time and persistence.

But, if you’re up for the challenge, there is no reason you can’t achieve a huge goal.

Just consider the few important points I make in today’s article on how to achieve huge goals, and get to work.

Setting a big goal and going after it can change your life quickly, but you have to consider a few important things.

9 Crucial elements of setting big goals

Choose the right goal.

A goal can be too big.

If your goal exceeds your belief that you can be successful, you’re finished before you even get started.

The biggest goal you can reasonably achieve is a goal that makes you think you can be successful if everything goes perfectly and you work hard.

Anything beyond that may create too much internal resistance.

Setting the right goal is actually quite tricky.

You have to find the balance between a goal that is big enough to stretch your abilities yet small enough to be achievable.

But it’s this very element that makes it quite hard to define a “big enough” goal.

On the one hand, one has to be realistic in terms of your abilities, even those you can learn, but on the other hand, you don’t want to limit yourself because we often underestimate what you’re capable of.

A classic case in point is someone like Sylvester Stallone.

When he started out everyone doubted him and nobody wanted to give them a chance.

He got so broke pursuing his dream of acting that he had to sell his dog at some stage.

Even when he wrote the script for the iconic Rocky movie, nobody wanted to cast him in the lead role.

He finally got a breakthrough and the movie ended up becoming a runaway success.

He also managed to buy his dog back.

Today, he is a huge success and icon. A true-life rag to riches story.

The important point being, Stallone could have given up when everyone told them to; even his wife.

But he stuck to his guns, believing in himself, and it paid off.

That doesn’t always happen though.

We can sometimes pursue something so blindly that we end up missing other real opportunities that are right in front of us.

So, this is a tricky one.

You have to find the balance between a big enough goal and a “realistic” one.

Truth be told, some things will just never be.

Let’s be real about that.

But, underestimating yourself isn’t good either, and most people I know are better at that than self-belief.

You need to know the difference for yourself.

If you want to set big goals, you need to be able to choose the right one to start with.

Get clear on what “success” means.

Some goals, like weight loss and income goals, are easy to measure.

Other goals can be more challenging.

Be sure you know how you’ll measure your success. Otherwise, you might end up being successful and not even know it.

One of the saddest things to see is people continuously pursuing “success” but never realising they’ve been successful all along.

Get very clear on what “success” means to you and how you will measure it before you end up chasing pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

setting big goals

Getting clear on what success means simply requires asking the question:

What needs to happen for me to know that I’ve achieved success?

Create a plan for setting big goals.

Setting big goals require some sort of plan.

You might get away without a plan when pursuing smaller goals, but huge goals are not that forgiving.

Without a plan, you will end up wasting too much time, energy, and finances.

You might end up chasing the wrong things, surround yourself with the wrong people, spend far too much time on the wrong things, and end up being disappointed.

Now, of course, all plans have limits.

That’s why it’s perhaps better to think of having a “map” rather than a plan.

With a map, you know the general direction you are heading in, but it makes room for detours and course alterations along the way.

But, regardless of whether you prefer a plan or map, a good way to develop an effective strategy is to start with the end in mind and work backwards from that.

setting big goals

Just create a general outline of the map that you’re planning to follow that will help you reach your goal.

Start with setting big goals and work back from that.

Considering what needs to happen.

Who needs to be involved.

What skills are required?

How much money is needed?

And what is the first step that needs to be taken?

Create a detailed map.

Now that you have a general map, create a detailed map that will get you from one step to the next.

Once you have all these elements clearly mapped out, start with the first step and move towards your end goal.

Develop habits related to your action plan.

If you want to succeed at setting big goals, you must develop the habits that will help you reach those goals.

Effective habits are really the key to setting big goals.

Even the greatest, most detailed, and clearly mapped out plan is useless without effective habits underlying it.

Without habits, a plan or map merely becomes a nice drawing on a piece of paper.

It’s also important to have habits that supplement your eventual end goal.

When you’re setting big goals that are completely unrelated to your ultimate end goal, it won’t help you achieve any goals at all.

You will, however, end up wasting time and energy on certain activities without moving 1 inch closer to your end goal.

For example, you might take a daily walk before breakfast if you’re trying to lose weight.

Or your habit might be to skip breakfast!

setting big goals

If you’re trying to save money, however, get in the habit of “paying yourself first” whenever you receive income and investing that straightaway before using what is left.

Taking a daily walk before breakfast won’t help you save money.

It’s an unrelated habit, even though a good one for being healthier.

So, make sure that the habits you choose actually support the huge goal you have.

Review your results regularly.

There’s an old saying that goes,

“You can only manage what you measure.”  

The reality is, you can’t know how well or poorly you’re doing if you never check.

It’s important when you’re setting big goals, to regularly review your progress in order to make the necessary adjustments when needed along the way.

This is an important step that many people skip.

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you have to have some way to track your progress (or lack thereof).

Ways you could do this include, stepping on the scale, using a tape measure, fat callipers, pictures/photographs, or the mirror.

Also, write your numbers down.

Don’t rely on memory.

That’s the only way you will know whether you moving forward or not.

Right now, if you walked into my office, you would find my goals, current numbers, and various motivational quotes are written down on two whiteboards I’ve put up on the walls.

This way, every time I look up, “reality” is staring me in the face.

I see what I’m trying to achieve as well as where I’m at. There is no hiding the facts.

setting big goals

Setting big goals demands you do this to the letter.

Like I said before, smaller goals are more forgiving than huge goals.

There is a big difference between trying to lose 5 kg and 50 kg.

You have to know your “numbers” and track your progress religiously.

The moment you notice your results going the wrong way, you have to step in and assess why that is and fix it.

Check your attitude daily.

Once you start pursuing any huge goal, your emotional state will become your biggest ally or enemy.

It’s super important to be constantly aware of how you’re feeling at the moment.

We call this, being mindful.

Ask yourself: how my feeling today?

Am I feeling doubtful, intimidated, or fearful?

Am I procrastinating as a result of it?

It’s critically important to deal with negative feelings immediately because they are like weeds.

If you allow them to shoot roots and grow, they have a tendency to suffocate your progress.

So what can you do about them?

Some people rely on willpower to do that.

But, research has shown us that the amount of willpower anyone possesses is limited.

Consequently, we cannot rely on willpower alone to help us overcome negative feelings when setting big goals (or any goals for that matter).

Willpower is a limited resource.

It is much smarter to use willpower to get going (find the inspiration or motivation to start something) but then relies on things such as effective habits, accountability partners, good measuring processes, and effective rewards.

Therefore, if you discover that negative feelings are inhibiting your progress, it’s important to put certain things in place to deal with them.

You cannot rely on willpower to help you push your way through negative emotions indefinitely.

For example, one effective tool for managing your state is called “the Triad” (developed by master coach Anthony Robbins).

setting big goals

He teaches that a person’s emotional state is basically determined by the interaction of three elements namely, your focus, language (self-talk), and physiology.

Once you understand how these three elements work together to create a certain emotional state, you can then shift them to create the most helpful state needed.

If you want to know more, I wrote a whole piece on it that you can read here.

Find a mentor.

Setting big goals mean you’ll most likely need help.

Moreover, odds are someone else has already accomplished your very goal.

It only makes sense to take advantage of someone else’s knowledge and experience.

Most people are happy to help. It never hurts to ask.

If necessary, consider getting a mentor/coach. It might be some of the best money you’ve ever spent.

Visualise success.

Spend a few minutes each night visualising success (whatever that means to you).

Visualisation is almost like a “super tool” that most people know about these days, yet only a few practices.

Some of the most successful people in the world have credited visualisation as the thing that put them on a path to great success.

It’s important however to note that visualisation still requires putting in the hard work.

It merely focuses your mind and aligns your behaviour with your unconscious and intention.

Watch the video below where a whole group of very successful celebrities talk about the power of visualisation and the law of attraction.

It’s not very complicated and you too can do this daily.

Imagine how you’ll feel when your goal is achieved.

Where will you be?

How will you feel?

How will your life change?

Make the experience as positive as you possibly can.

If you rated the desirability of achieving your goal on a 1-10 scale, it had better be a 10!

Final thoughts

Setting big goals require appropriate goals, a good plan, a mentor, and stamina.

When setting big goals you must be prepared to do things you’ve never done before.

The question you, therefore, need to ask yourself is:

Are you willing to be and do more than you’ve demonstrated to this point?

In recent weeks I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that life is ticking.

Every day I get to spend above the ground, is a gift and NOT a dress rehearsal.

This is it.

So, if there’s anything I would still like to do, experience or achieve, NOW is the time.

Life is ticking, so set a huge goal and get started on the path to achieving it.

Tomorrow might literally be too late.

I would love to hear your comments or questions, so please leave them below.

About the author 

Gideon

Gideon is the founder of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a top-50 relationship blog (2021) and top-100 marriage blog (2021) which focuses on providing healthy relationship advice about love and life. He earned a Master's degree in theological studies before training as a professional counsellor and hypnotherapist (DipProfCouns., DipMSHT.) almost 10 years ago. He completed a graduate diploma in Psychology and is currently pursuing postgraduate Psychology studies at Massey University. He has been married to his wife for nearly sixteen years and is the father of two children. His articles have been published on Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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