Thomas Green On Setting Goals

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. Today, I’m going to talk to you about goal setting.

Now, previously when I’ve heard, let’s say, motivational speakers, talking about goal setting, it’s a very encouraging activity to do but there often isn’t an explanation that goes along with why goal setting is a powerful activity. There’s often encouragement to do certain activities in relation to goals. Writing them down is often highly encouraged but again, not necessarily a reason why you should do that, and also the evidence provided in terms of why they’re so powerful is often not very scientific. So, there might be anecdotes, for example. In this episode, I am looking to make things clear for you and tell you what some of my experiences have been.

My interpretation of what goals are and why they’re powerful is simply that all it is, all that you’re doing when you’re setting a goal, is you’re making something clear for you. It’s clarity about what it is that you’re trying to achieve. A good question to ask is, what is it that makes something clear? An example of a goal that is not clear is, I want to earn X amount in this timeframe. Now, it is encouraged to put a date on it, so if you have a goal that has a particular date then that is more clear rather than less clear because you’re specifying a timeframe. But if it is just about, for example, earning a certain amount of money, that doesn’t tell you how you’re going to earn it. It doesn’t tell you what activity you’re going to do in order to earn it. And it doesn’t tell you necessarily a reason why you might want to earn that certain amount of money or what your life looks like, and that’s what I’m going to go into in this episode.

I said that clarity is very important and it reminds me of what Earl Nightingale said about how human beings operate in the same way that ships do – and I’ve said this in prior episodes – which is, if you’re a captain of a boat or a ship, you have a predetermined destination, you have a certain route that that boat or that ship is going to travel, and you also have a destination time so you know you can go and speak to that captain and you can say how long is it going to take? How are we going to get there? And where is it that we’re going? Whereas if you ask the average person, they often don’t have that level of specificity around what it is they’re trying to achieve. But if you do set a goal then the ideal level of detail is that you do have those things. You know where it is that you’re going, you know how long it’s going to take you to get there, and you also have a journey, if you like, with detail about what’s going to happen along the way. You have it broken down into steps. It’s all very clear for you and if it’s clear then you know what your outcome is and you can start working towards it.

I had Terry McDougall on the podcast and I asked her about big or small goals. So, some people say that you should have very clear realistic goals and they should be small, and then let’s say if you have a bigger goal you can work towards that with smaller goals. And some people say that you should have goals that you can’t even achieve in your lifetime because it will inspire you to do better things. And as Les Brown said, if you shoot for the moon you might end up among the stars. Terry’s answer was that as long as you’re serious about the goal, that’s the only thing that matters in relation to this particular question. I mentioned previously about whether or not you should write them down as this is a highly encouraged activity. Some people say that when you write things down, you’re almost creating space between you and your thoughts and you can make it a lot more real or specific when you write something down. I think there’s a hesitancy to write something down because you have to answer that question of am I serious about this particular goal because as soon as I have written it down – it’s almost like a commitment for you – I’ve said I’m going to do this activity by this timeframe and if it’s in my head and it’s general or it’s vague, then if I don’t achieve it then I haven’t failed at anything. Now, I do plan to go into what happens when you achieve a goal and that will help with trying to determine what it is that you want and how you determine whether or not you should try and achieve a particular goal. And that will help as to whether or not you’re serious about a particular goal.

There are some people who advocate telling people about your goals, so, kind of like, a public commitment. I remember hearing – maybe it was a course or maybe it was a talk or something like that – and the encouragement was to say something along the lines of I’m going to be retired by the time I’m 35 or I’m going to be financially free and tell everyone so that you have to encourage yourself to actually take action and do it. And the flip side of that is that some people say keep your goals to yourself so that you don’t get any pushback from anyone else and you can just stay on track. No one’s going to make fun of you and no one’s going to tell you why you can’t do it if you just keep goals to yourself. There are also some people who advocate “the law of attraction” which, as I’ve said before, is my least favourite thing to speak about in self-development. You have to be very wary about crossing over into the woo woo or the spooky side of self-development. Now, there is a cause and effect that can happen here, which is the more you tell people about a particular thing that you’re trying to do, and let’s say that you ask them if you know anyone that can help me with that, you know, please send them my way. So, if you’re, for example, trying to be a doctor or something and you say it’s my last mission, I really want to become a doctor, and you say if you ever come across anyone who might be able to help me with this, please send them my way because, you know, I feel like it’s my life’s calling. I’m trying to get all the help I can possibly get. Then that is a cause and effect principle. You are providing the cause which may get you an effect which is people who might be sent your way to help you with your goal. The woo woo in this is like that you’re manifesting something like you’re putting something out into the universe, and I would say all that is, is just simple cause and effect. But if you are going to walk around telling people that type of thing, I would say it has to be highly meaningful and it can’t be something that you change the next time you speak to that person. And one of the things which I share on goals is that there is no harm in deciding that you want to do something one moment and, let’s say, you learn about that topic, you should be able to change your mind on whether or not you want that thing – whether or not you want to achieve that goal. There is no harm in changing your mind. But if you go around one moment saying this is my life’s calling and please help me with this, and then the next moment you’re saying something else, I don’t see that as being very good for your personal relationships.

There are certain exercises that you can do that are beneficial to goal setting that help with that clarity that I spoke about. A business plan is one of those. In my view, a business plan, all it is is a goal, so you’re setting out with your business plan what it is that your outcome is and how you’re going to get there, and you’re detailing it step by step. It’s a clear analysis. And we are going to look at a business plan in order to use it as an analogy for setting goals, and you might use these principles when setting goals for yourself in order to get that clarity if you haven’t already. In the business plan – or at least the example that  I’m looking at – it starts off by asking you the summary. What’s the summary of your business? Now, in this analogy we’d be talking about goals, so what’s the summary of your goals? Are you able to communicate that to someone in a short way so that they can understand exactly what it is that you’re trying to achieve? The next part of it is breaking down that summary in one year, three years, and five-year goals, and if there is a financial aspect to your goals then you need that financial summary. These are essentially the numbers, so this might be on a spreadsheet.

The next part is about why you want to achieve that goal. Why is it that that’s the right choice for you? Why do you think you have the right skills and experience to make that work? And if you don’t, where are you going to get them from?

The next part in a business plan is, what is it that you’re going to sell, meaning where are you going to get the revenue from? In a personal goal that might be what cause is going to get you the effect that you’re looking for? Now, with business plans, they actually ask you whether or not there’s a demand for what it is that you’re trying to sell. And in a personal goal, you might say who is it that’s going to give you that effect that you’re looking for? A question that’s regularly asked is, what is it that makes you different from everyone else? How are you going to set yourself apart? It talks about who your customers are or your market and why they would do business with you. This might be if you’re going to get education or training or a mentor, why is it that they would help you? Or if you’re looking for a particular type of job, why would they hire you?

There’s a section on market research. The summary for me in this particular instance is, do you know what it’s like once you achieve this particular goal? In other words, if you spend years and years trying to achieve something, do you know what your life will be like once you’re there broken down into the theory and the practical? We can all get on the internet, we can all go on Google, but have you actually gone out and spent time with someone who’s doing what you would like to do?

There is a section on your marketing and with businesses, marketing and sales are going to be the thing which drives revenue. I’ve said before that people rely too heavily on the idea and not enough about how they’re going to get their customers, which is the marketing in sales, and it asks you to be specific. Specifically, where are your customers going to come from and how much is it going to cost you to actually reach them? If it’s a personal goal and you’re looking for help from a particular type of individual, where will you find them and why will they help you?

There’s a section on your competitors. Typically, if you’re trying to achieve something there are other people trying to achieve that too. If you can be in a business where you’re creating rather than competing then that’s great, but there’s a certain element of competition in everything that we do. So, the question is, how do you compare to your competitors? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?

There’s a section on finance, not just from a business perspective but from a personal one, because in most instances you need to be able to support yourself when you are attempting to achieve a goal. And so, if you’ve got a certain amount of money saved up, how much do you have from a time perspective for how many months or years can you go about attempting to achieve this goal? In other words, how will you support yourself?

And then lastly, it has something on a backup plan. If for some reason this doesn’t work out for you, what will you do? Now, somewhat controversial because some people say you should not have a plan B at all, you should stick with plan A and don’t give up until you get it. I think there is some value to having something in place if you decide to change your mind. When people set out to achieve a goal, typically they don’t think I’m going to fail at this. Everyone thinks I’m going to keep going until I get what I want, which is fine, we’ve got all inspiration and motivation at that time. So, rather than thinking of it as what if I fail? Think of it as if I decide to change my mind for any reason, how can I use this time and this effort I’ve put in in order to benefit myself?

The next tool that you might wish to use is a letter to yourself. Now, some people do this for therapy but how it relates to goal setting is a letter to yourself from the future and how you feel and how grateful you are that you put all this time and effort into achieving this particular goal. So, for myself, when I was in employment, I might have written a letter to myself. You’re pretending essentially that it’s five years from now. You’re being yourself in five years from now and you’re saying, “Dear Thomas. I just want to thank you for all the time and effort that you put in because my life now as a business owner has changed things for me so much and it was well worth the time and effort that you put in. I’m making a difference. I’ve got much more freedom in my life.” All the things that you are attempting to get from your goal you put in the letter. You make it clear, as I said at the beginning, and the letter contains within it all the things that you hope to achieve. And essentially you refer back to this whenever you’re either having doubts or you’re thinking about giving up or it’s something that you can look at once you achieve your goal.

Another good exercise and this helps with trying to determine exactly what your life should look like or it can help with trying to determine what it is that you want when trying to choose a goal, and that is writing down your ideal day. So, rather than talking about your ideal life which would be quite a long exercise to attempt to write down all the details from your ideal life. Basically, you think about what your ideal day would be like from start to finish. So, you get up. What does the view look like from your window? Who are you getting up with? How do you get up? What do you have for breakfast? Who do you have it with? What do you do at the beginning of your day? When’s lunch? What do you have? Who do you have it with? What does your working day look like start to finish? And that includes your evening and then obviously it includes when you go to sleep at night. You basically write out in as much detail as you possibly can what your ideal day looks like, and this can be very beneficial because it sometimes doesn’t match up with what people’s goals are. There are lots of people, I think, who have goals and, let’s say, I want to be a billionaire or something like that. But if you think about what your ideal day might be, your ideal day might be spending it with your family, for example, and you might have an element of relaxation within your day or yoga or meditation or whatever it might be. And in order to reach that billionaire status, it’s very possible that that’s in conflict with your ideal day. So, whilst it’s still possible to get those two, you could potentially have your ideal day without wanting to be a billionaire, and that’s why it’s a very beneficial exercise for you to do.

That exercise is somewhat similar to something called mental rehearsal and mental rehearsal is done a lot by sportspeople. And if I understand it rightly, Seve Ballesteros, who was a very successful golfer, was asked in an interview about whether he was shocked to win a particular tournament – I’m fudging the details a bit but it’s something like that. And his response was no I wasn’t shocked because I’d already won it dozens of times over or hundreds of times over, whatever the number was. And all he’d done over and over again was visualise or mentally rehearse exactly what was going to happen in that tournament, and then when it happened, he wasn’t surprised. So, he didn’t have any nerves, he knew exactly what it would look like, it was very clear to him. And I would say it would be beneficial for you if you do the same in relationship to your goal. The more clear you make it, the more you break it down, the more you rehearse exactly what it will look like, and you actually take the steps to achieve that goal, the more likely it will happen for you.

There’s a book called Psycho-Cybernetics from someone named Maxwell Maltz – and if you’re interested in mental rehearsal I’d recommend reading that. I have touched upon breaking down goals slightly. This is another exercise that you can do to make your goal much clearer. So, to give you a much more specific example, I have said previously that by the end of my career I would like a team of a thousand people. So, I want to have created a thousand jobs for people or have a thousand employees. Since talking about that number, it’s a fairly arbitrary number, I think that it is possible to have a thousand people, but I think I’d probably prefer to impact people in a much more meaningful way than have a larger number of staff. But the reason I’m telling you is because, in order to break that number down into steps, like we’ve talked about, the way that we would go about doing that is, let’s say I’ve got 20 good years left of work in me – hypothetical number. With that number, I can then look at the average number of employees I would need to add to the company in that timeframe. So, every year between now and then I need to add 50 staff, so it makes it much more clearer for me. Rather than thinking of this big number of a thousand people, I just need to add 50 staff each year. So, another question would be, well how do you add 50 staff each year? In order to add staff members or create jobs you obviously need customers to pay for those staff, and so the question then becomes how many clients do I need in order to pay for those staff members? Now in this hypothetical, let’s just say that for every staff member I hire, all I need is one client. So, I need 50 clients each year to pay for my 50 staff members. And so the question becomes, what do I do in order to get those 50 clients each year? Well, in reality, there’s going to be multiple ways that you get clients but let’s just say it’s cold calls. Let’s say I get all of my staff members from cold calls. As I’ve stated previously, I don’t recommend that you use only one media because if that media goes away then you no longer have a way of getting clients for your business, but it’s hypothetical.

The next question is, how many calls do you need to make in order to get one client? That might be a hundred calls. Now, if I need 50 clients per year then it’s a little over four clients every month. If I need four clients every month to get my 50 clients per year and it takes 100 calls to get one client, then I need to make 400 calls every month in order to get my four clients a month which is 50 clients a year. If I need a thousand clients in order to support a thousand staff members then all it is is 400 calls per month. There are about 20 working days in every month, so 400 calls over a 20 working day month is 20 calls per day. Now, that is highly theoretical but that means that all I would need to do in order to get to that end goal is to have 20 calls every single weekday with a potential prospect. Now, once we know that number then we can break it down even further. In most people’s working day there are seven hours, so you’d need to make just under three calls per hour, and that’s a call every 20 minutes. Now, we’ve taken this lofty goal right at the end of my career and we’ve given it a very concrete activity that you need to do every 20 minutes in order to achieve that end goal. And that is an example of breaking your goal down step by step.

And if I wanted to, I could break it down even further, and there’s an episode on the channel about productivity that helps with this. So, if we look at the concept of a cold call, all it is really is picking up the phone, dialling the number, waiting for someone to answer, and then having the conversation. So, if I’m feeling particularly demotivated in a particular moment, all I need to do is pick up the phone. Well, you know, it’s not difficult to do that. The next thing I need to do is dial a few numbers. It’s not difficult to do that either. And then once someone answers you’re already in the activity by then. And you can apply that principle to your goals. Break it down right into its smaller steps, and what you’ll find is it’s not so intimidating after all.

I thought it would be good to spend some time on what happens when you achieve a goal because often people don’t think about this. Most people think about how they will feel when they achieve a particular goal. And although I hesitate to use words like secret in marketing or any kind of communication, it might as well be a secret because people don’t seem to absorb this principle. And the principle is that when you achieve your goal that you’re trying to achieve right now, you’ll feel pretty much like you do right now. Initially, you might get a bump in happiness, you might have achieved something and you’ll feel really good about something, but then after a fairly short period of time that will be normal for you just like life is normal for you right now. You will feel no different when you achieve your goal than you do right now. Now, rather than taking that as a negative, what it means is that what you should be focusing on with your goal setting is meaningful activities because life is difficult, it’s tough. You’re probably going to want to give up on the journey towards achieving your goals, but if your goal is highly meaningful and you have a valid reason why you want to do something, then it’s more than just the feeling you will get from achieving it. When that feeling goes away of achieving your goal, it will still be worthwhile that you did it. And I’ve said many times on my channel and this comes back to the definition of success which I take from Earl Nightingale, which is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal. It says nothing about money. It says nothing about reaching a particular outcome. All it says is that the person who is successful is progressively working towards something that is ideal for them. Now, some people say that it’s about the journey. Tony Robbins says that it’s not what you get that will make you happy but who you become, and he also says that the quality of your emotions is the quality of your life. It’s a long-winded way of saying that on your way to achieving a particular goal, that’s your life. So, you should really enjoy the process because if you don’t, when you get there when you achieve your goal, it’s really not going to be any different for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to do it.

So, to give you some examples of what I consider to be a good goal versus a bad goal. A bad goal might be – as I’ve highlighted already – I want to be a billionaire. The reason why that is a bad goal is because it says nothing about who you will become during that process. So, you might hate yourself. You might be completely depressed. Your health may suffer. And when you reach your goal you’ve probably got more problems than you started with and the money is not going to make you feel any better. An example of a good goal might be, I want to be a billionaire so that I have the resources to tackle poverty in some of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. I am going to do it by the time I reach 65. It will require a thousand new customers for my business and I can achieve that goal with 20 sales calls every single day. When I reach the age of 65, I will sell my business and I’ll spend the rest of my life doing charity work. Now, that is just an example. Goals are a very subjective thing. I’m not saying that you should necessarily do that, but there is an episode on the channel with Jeff Morrill and it is about being profit-wise, and you should check that out if you are interested in that topic.

I really hope that this has been beneficial for you to get some clarity on goal setting. If you have questions, feel free to put them in the comments, and I’ll speak to you soon.