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Goal Setting

What’s the Most Successful Way to Set Personal and Business Goals?

July 24, 2015 by Dr. Jon Warner in Goal Setting

What's the Most Successful Way to Set Personal and Business Goals?

Most people know in theory that setting personal goals for themselves (in their home and work life) is a good idea but nonetheless don’t always do this in effective ways (if they do it all). In this brief article we want to look at what is preventing people from doing this and what they might be missing out on.

As young children we are prone to think that life’s possibilities are both open and endless and in this climate set goals which are more stretching and that we are happy to strive towards.  But as time goes on, we start to see more and more limitations on what we can actually achieve and, before we know it, we are setting much more constrained or limited “low bar” goals, or even worse, setting no goals at all and letting life just “unfold” day by day or week by week. But no matter what age you are, it doesn’t have to be this way, and it is therefore worth thinking about if you had no restrictions what would you do and where would you be in your life? In other words, what would our goal and target setting be like if we asked questions of ourselves such as “what outcomes do I dare to strive towards if I had no limits?” or “What could I completely change in my work and life there were no obstacles?” In other words, if you don’t take the time to decide what you want for yourself without editorializing, someone else will choose for you, and you will simply be helping them to pursue their goals.

One great way to start this mental “opening up” process before setting goals is to write down a series of aspirational statements or what are often called “positive affirmations” which help to create the right mind-set to establish targets with are stretching and worthwhile. Although these will be unique to each person, here are a few examples:

  • I am a knowledgeable and smart businessman/woman.
  • I can achieve as much happiness/contentment in work/life as I choose.
  • I give myself permission to be as powerful/rich/influential as I want to be.
  • I have absolute certainty in my ability to generate any amount of income I choose.
  • Money is flowing to me from both expected and unexpected sources.

Simply put, positive affirmations such as these then are the beginning of the journey in what will become self-fulfilling prophecies. We should therefore think of affirmations as the building blocks of the future life you are visualizing. Affirmations are consequently powerful reminders that you can use to regularly guide you that help to keep you on track as you start to develop a whole series of sub-goals and use them to get to what you have dreamed about.

What happens neuro-scientifically when we use positive affirmations such as the ones above is that we give our brain  new information for the subconscious mind to start considering. And by maintaining our focus on these affirmations we start to recondition our brain at a deep level and create new neural pathways on which you can more readily act. And by constant repetition, our positive affirmations will begin to replace our old more limiting or unhelpful beliefs and habits (about practical obstacles, so-called “real life” getting in the way and even the chance of failure) with new ones that are much richer and prone to open up doors to success than close them.

Much of the research into approaching personal goal setting in this way suggests that people should spend at least 5 minutes each day to revisit your own affirmations and even use slogans, written lists, posters, etc. to keep these ideas “top-of-mind” or in “line of sight” every day. But whatever approach you choose to take, the more we can imagine an unconstrained future, the more we are likely to be successful in achieving our goals – why not therefore give it a try?

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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