Level Up Your Goal-Setting: Four Approaches to Moving the Needle on Your Goals


Goal-setting is a prime lesson in “Personal Productivity 101.” It’s one of the most powerful habits an entrepreneur, salesperson—or really any professional—can have, but too often, goals feel out of reach.

Why is that?

At times, it can feel like creating a puzzle without the picture. What’s realistic? What’s feasible? What both fits with what we are currently doing and sets us down the right path?

As coaches, we use criteria such as the SMART model to analyze our goals. Are they Specific? Measurable? Achievable, Time-bound, and Realistic? Sometimes these criteria can feel limiting, and we end up with smaller goals that don’t really move the needle. How do we dream big? How do we create meaningful goals?

How do we level up our goals?

1. Take a Trip to Space

Maximize your goal-setting success by carefully considering the space in which you set your goals.

Physical Space: Find a place that inspires you, that has the right level of distraction and visual appeal. Goal-setting should be wrapped up in a positive experience. Setting goals at your desk at work or at stoplights is unlikely to generate powerful results.

Mental Space: Give yourself ample brain space—free from both digital notifications and mental clutter—to set your goals. Goal-setting is not always a sequential 1-2-3 process. Allow room for shortcuts, sideroads, and pitstops on your journey.

Temporal Space: Block time for goal-setting. Time is precious, yet we give it away to anyone more organized than we are. Time-blocking—wherein you dedicate a chunk of time to a single task to increase your focus—is an often discussed yet seldom implemented productivity tactic. Don’t rush the goal-setting process!

2. Get Your Dream On

What life do you want to live? What does truly living that life look like? What do you want for yourself, your family, and your community? Often, we put a ceiling on our goals. Why is that?

As children, dreams drive us. As adults, dreams can cause us—and those around us—to feel a little uncomfortable. It’s safer to not go for the big dreams because then you can’t fail. Huge dreams can inspire others—or intimidate them.

Give yourself permission to dream big! You’ll inspire others.

3. Get Unrealistic

Your dreams likely haven’t happened yet, or they would have graduated from dreams to realities. When we want to accomplish something we’ve never done before, it helps to start off a little unrealistic.

Take what you think is a reasonable goal and double it. Could you achieve that with your current actions? Is that still on your current trajectory?

If so, congratulations! You’ve identified a goal that will require a quick trip out of your comfort zone. If not, double it again and check. The objective is a find a goal that is not unachievable, but one that requires you to shift your actions to a new level. Level up your goals, level up your actions, and level up your results.

4. Brainstorm First—Then Find Connections

Goal-setting is an art first and a science second. Give yourself room to explore. Spend some time brainstorming all possibilities before choosing a path.

We are complicated creatures, and all possible connections are not instantly apparent. Lay everything out and then see how it all connects. While using something like the SMART criteria is a powerful way to finish goal-setting, it’s a terrible way to start it. Start with a blank canvas, not predetermined buckets.

Leveling up your goals will level up your life.

Leveling up goal-setting asks more of you. It takes more creativity, ambiguity, and exploration.

Ultimately, you’ll set more powerful goals—goals that will change your view of what’s possible and impact how you interact with the world around you.