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Setting Goals


The purpose of this book is to assist you in obtaining absolute clarity on what you want in every area of your life. If you are willing to get clearer about your intentions in life, if you are willing to get more value out of your life, if you are interested in improving the quality of your day-to-day experiences, then you can look forward to taking the first step toward a richer, fuller, more satisfying life. This book does not suggest purposes for your life. It does not suggest goals either. This book is designed to be a tool for you to determine and clarify all of your own desires, your own wants, your own dreams, looking at them, establishing your willingness to have them in your life, and making them even more real by writing them down. You may discover many desires about which you were previously unaware. I strongly recommend that you read this book in as short a time span as you can arrange in your schedule. An absolute essential for getting value from this book is doing the exercises in Chapter IX (actually listing what you want) in one continuous sitting. I'd like to see you read the book in a relatively short time period, such as one day or a weekend, depending on your reading ability, speed, and comprehension. I personally believe that shorter period of time in which you can absorb the material contained in this book, the more value you are likely to receive from it. Remember , the time you give to yourself in order to get clear about what you want could be the most valuable gift you ever give yourself. There is more value in giving yourself a day or two on the subject of what you want in your life than you could possibly receive by doing anything else! Think about it. What else could you do that could be more important than to resolve what you want in life. ALL OF IT! In order to achieve the maximum degree of value from this book, you must be willing to have the things you say you want and recognize that this may be a significant change in your lifestyle; you must be willing to create an environment for really looking at what you want, taking responsibility for getting value from the entire experience. Welcome to a level of personal responsibility that few people ever reach. Congratulations for coming this far.

John Renesch

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Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I discovered how much I could contribute to the quality of my life by being really clear about what I wanted, I wondered why it was being kept such a secret. I was given volumes and volumes of educational data in elementary school, high school, and college. I was provided with religious dogma and sense of morals. I was informed about the rules of society ó the laws and the penalties for breaking them. However, the system has no provision for educating me on how to lead a satisfying life. Our culture has chosen to make the 3 Rís available as basic requirements and has expanded these to the university level, including nuclear physics and calculus, literary compositions and doctoral dissertations.

Other than choosing a subject in which to major in college, which usually has a vocation attached to it, we are not encouraged, in society, to choose the life we want. Iím sure there are many families and even some schools which are exceptions to this generality. However, for the most part, our environment in our younger years concentrates on teaching us to read and write, getting trained for a job career, staying out of jail, and going to Heaven.

Now, taking these objectives one at a time, let us assume that we have accomplished reading and writing. Letís say we have a job we like, or we can obtain another one that we do enjoy. Let us also assume that we have learned how to stay out of jail. Since our seat in Heaven can be presumed to be some time off yet, how do we maximize the enjoyment of this life, here on earth, the one we are experiencing right now?

The truth is that planning oneís life is a relatively new concept. The human potential movement has contributed enormously to the discovery of more and more techniques that support the attaining of a higher quality of life. There is no longer any necessity to "endure" or "survive." Ultimate control over the quality of our lives is available to us right now. All you need to do is learn how to direct your life, and you begin by getting clear on just exactly how you want your life to be.

Recall any truly satisfying moments in your life and see how they corresponded to your own purposeful and conscious accomplishment of something you really wanted, a goal or self-determined end to which you were dedicated. There are some popular myths and misconceptions that may get in the way and block the flow of personal goals. The first of these is significance.


Many people feel that goals are things you set out to accomplish that are really significant, and therefore not to be considered for less-than-significant achievements. Common examples of "significant goals" include winning a gold medal at the Olympics, becoming the president of the United States, and sailing around the world. Other typical "significant goals" are retiring at a certain age, getting married, living in the best area in town, or becoming a vice-president of your company.

Few people recognize that some of the most valuable contributions that they could make to the quality of their own lives is to be clear about what they want, even the "insignificant" things, such as getting all those incomplete household projects done, fixing a faucet that has been dripping for two weeks, a garage that is in desperate need of spring cleaning, a worn-out needle on the home stereo phonograph. These things can really distract from the experience of being at home and truly enjoying it.

You may say, "I donít need a list to get those things done, Iíll get to them soon." When are you going to do them? What do you need to do them with? What do you have to buy in order to get them done?

Little items may be just as valuable and worthy of listing as the "biggies;" they may not always have the priority that some more important things have. Some of the little items could include starting a savings account, writing those letters youíve been putting off, and paying the mortgage.

There are many, many more of these "less significant items"- many more than there are of the "significant" goals. Perhaps you could see where a person could achieve his "significant goal" (say, becoming a corporate vice-president), while having little awareness of his incomplete projects at home, and wondering why he isnít feeling totally satisfied.


Paul, a freelance writer, asked me for an example of one of my goals and I told him that I had just completed a very satisfying one ó the replacement of several cracked window panes in my high-rise apartment. Hie looked at me rather quizingly and asked whether or not I thought that this kind of thing was too ordinary to be a goal.

This is an example of where you need to be your own judge of whatís important to you! In my case, the cracked windows had been a confrontation for me for several months. I live in a Russian Hill high-rise in San Francisco with a view I consider incomparable. The distraction caused by the cracked windows, the amount of negotiating and prodding to get them repaired, and the time period that was necessary made this "ordinary" activity significant enough for me to include on my goals list.

Quite often, these seemingly little things have more to do with our well-being than the ones we put out as our "biggies" anyway. Priorities may vary, but anything you want is worthy of being listed. Sometimes the things we consider the most important are buried deep an would never be included on a list.


Another common misconception about "goals" is that you can only have a limited number of them. Many people act as if there is a rationing of goals, and each person is only allowed a predetermined number in his of her lifetime.

I have often heard a person say, "Oh, yes, I had a goal once ó to become a teacher," or, " Well, I have two goals: to retire in a yearís time and to sail around the world in my own boat." A very common idea is that we need to have "a" goal, and many people cherish their single " goal" like a prized trophy. In fact, many people have shared with me how they are worried about accomplishing their single goal and fear that there will be nothing left for them.

I am not suggesting that you should have lots of goals, but many people feel that one or two is all that they are allowed!


Literally nothing would get done on this planet without someone wanting it to happen. Every action requires an intention, albeit often unexpressed or uncommunicated. Thousands of "goals" are achieved every minute on this earth.

In working with individuals in goal-setting, Iíd estimate the average person discovers forty to one hundred goals he or she wants to list. It is my theory that these are only the tip of the iceberg. We have wants and desires for nearly every area of our lives, so why not express them?

Quite frequently, when someone discovers that I am an enthusiastic goal-setting advocate, they will inform me of their goal (as if they gad just one) as if they have already achieved goal-setting perfection (when they have really only just begun). They see the value in setting goals but are still confined or limited by accepting the concept of scarcity or a shortage of the supply available to them.


One of the most common blocks or barriers to people expressing their wants (often on a below-conscious level) is an idea that expressing oneís desires is wrong, sinful, or otherwise socially unacceptable. For many people, concepts of greed and other unattractive conceptualizations prevent them from allowing themselves to acknowledge that they truly want something. It seems to be similar to admitting having a sexual thought about somebody and being too embarrassed to admit it to yourself. There is some shame and guilt attached even to the simple admission of it sometimes.

One of the most often expressed feelings I heard form people during Focusing appointments went something like, "John, I donít want much ó just to be happy." One woman hesitantly expressed this sentiment as if that one goal might be considered "wanting too much" by other people.


Perhaps due to misconceptions with regard to religious training in our childhood, many of us have experienced some conflict between personally wanting something and a picture of wrongness about wanting that thing. We might tend to persecute ourselves for wanting it because "no really good person would want that." Let me be clear that I am not talking about immoral or unethical things, or criminal acts; I am talking about simple ethical goals, such as wanting a large New York steak at a very deluxe restaurant (when somewhere else in the world someone might be starving and your guilt prevents you from expressing that goal).

It took me quite some time to acknowledge that I really enjoyed food and eating and finally got rid of the picture I had of starving people in Europe (from my childhood) whenever I ate a meal. I had that drummed into my head for years and the conditioning that I was holding was actually diminishing my experience of eating.


A frequently expressed idea about setting goals is that great amounts of unrewarding effort will be required in order to achieve the goal. Many people refrain from setting any kind of goal due to this preconceived notion.

I have observed that when you are doing something that you really want to do, it is an exhilarating experience. Doing something that you donít want to do can be a drudgery, indeed!


When you are really certain about a goal, dedication, commitment, and all the activities that support the accomplishment of that goal all flow very naturally and effortlessly. Itís fun, energizing and extremely satisfying!

On the other hand, when you doubt if you want your goal, or have no conscious goal, the same activity, commitment, and dedication can be very exhausting and unrewarding, often being a struggle requiring large amounts of effort and certainly no fun! This often results when the goal is really just a good idea - made up in order to have a goal.


Another barrier to many peopleó a block or obstacle that seems to interfere with making a commitment to have something happen ó is an often unconscious fear of failure if it doesnít happen. Our society seems to have created a very negative conceptualization of a "failure," to the point that many people donít try anything, rather than confronting the possibility of failure.

You have absolute total choice on how you evaluate a failed goal. You can make it as significant as you like or you can look at a failed goal as it really isó a missed target, or a mistake. When you fall short of the goal, you do not need to feel like a "failure," bringing up all the pictures, memories, and concepts you have about failures. For example, if you didnít become a vice-president by the date you had targeted, you need not picture yourself as the Harold Stassen of the business world. Itís okay to feel some sadness or discontent, but be responsible for how you treat yourself.


A popular opinion is that goal-setting is only for careers or the business communityó the professionals. Getting really clear on what you want is certainly a professional approach to living, I agree. I would like to live life professionally, too. Wouldnít you? When it comes down to the quality and the degree of satisfaction you experience in your life, who wants to be an amateur?

Business executives who live every day in goal-oriented positions at work still resist applying the same principles to their personal lives, often creating an imbalance among their personal, social, career, and psychological desires and wants.


Another popular concept is that goals are targets that athletes set for top performance. Physical performances, dexterity, scoring skill, muscle power, and agility goals are very short-term goals and therefore satisfy our impatient appetite for immediate results.

Many people look at goal-setting as only for athletes (in terms of physical prowess of ability) and not for people who are not engaged in sports-oriented activities. Even our vocabulary supports this idea, given that "goals" are identified with several organized sports, such as football, hockey, basketball, and soccer.


Perhaps due to the business and sports connotation given to the subject of goals by so many people, another misconception is that goal-setting requires a lot of effort and strain. Ironically, experienced goal-setters report that they are energized by the clarity that they experience, the single-mindedness of their purpose, and the clear understanding of where they are going. They report "less effort than doing nothing at all!"

A goal is a future desired condition. That future can be the next minute or the next century. Setting a goal is simply determining where you want to be and when you want to be there. Everything about you is the result of a goal you setó perhaps unconsciously, perhaps not verbally or written down, but, nevertheless, a goal.


For most people, the biggest single block to getting really clear on what they want (the first step to getting what they want) is a subconscious doubt or earlier decision about their deservingness.

Are you willing to have what you want? Will you feel really good when you get it? Do you deserve to have it? Are you sure youíll allow yourself to accomplish what you want to or will you come up with a way to sabotage your success? Sabotage is very common, by the way, so donít feel odd if you have noticed this pattern in your past accomplishments.


We humans do pick up attitudes and habits and ideas along the road of life. We make decisions every day that are based on habit and preconceived notions that we adopted from people and events in our past environments.

You can read about our conditioning, its influences, and how it controls our every-day behavior in (any of the) many books on psychology, motivation, and behavioral sciences. You can begin to look at what conditioning concepts you may have running your life right now. Everybody has preconceived notions and attitudes, not just a few people. The only possible exceptions would be those who were raised in test tubes, under ideal laboratory conditions, and (as weíve already read) they have most likely perished anyway.

Mastering life is the process of moving from where you are to where you want to be.

Werner Erhard

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The principle of Focusing is to break down and subdivide all typical areas of your life in order for you to look at each one individually and focus on it, in order to closely examine what you want for yourself in that particular area of your life.

Recognizing that we all have very distinct and different ideas of what we want and when we want them to become real for us, we will be looking at any and all conditions that you want in your life.

There are no suggestions concerning what your wants should be or deadlines for when you should want them. The categories are meant to trigger desires youíve been suppressing in that area, not to promote goals that arenít there. You are the composite of what you want to be, do, and have. Your desires and wants are an integral part of who you are.

The desires that you express are the sum total of how you want your life to be. We are not out to make up or manufacture any goals or desires. We want to get at what your real intentions are. Be thinking of how you want your life to be; what kind of experience of yourself do you want. What do you want to do; what things do you want to have?


Be, do, and have. Keep these three words in the forefront of your mind throughout this exercise. Many people look only at the "things" they want, or the activities or "doing" part of life. By keeping these three verbs in your consciousness throughout the exercises, you will be reminding yourself of all the facets of yourself, especially the "being" part, from which everything else comes!


The categories we will be covering have been divided into three primary subdivisions. This allows you to keep your attention on one point of view throughout each subdivision, allowing most of your energy to be focused on looking at what you want.

These three subdivisions are:

By going through each of these areas, one at a time, you will be better able to concentrate on all the suggested categories, with an overview of the main subdivision.

Utilizing the Focusing principle, many people have found it much easier to look at what they want. The whole process becomes much more appetizing and appears much less overwhelming. Focusing also exists as a form or structure within which you can commit yourself to complete the looking experience. Itís like playing an entire ball game, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, rather than going out on the street and throwing a ball around until dinnertimeó a perennial middle.

Bob, a California realtor, had spent several years "thinking about" leaving the family business, a second-generation real estate brokerage. In one of the earliest Focusing seminars, he chose to quit thinking about it; he chose to leave the business after seven years; he also chose to select a plan of action that included his own personal goals. Within one year, he had developed his own company and had established partial ownership in two other real estate-related companies.


Focusing utilizes basic guidelines that work very well for people in recognizing what they want. Iíve used these guidelines myself and I have found them to be extremely valuable, for my own goals and in my work with others in setting their initial goals and also in maintaining goals once they have been listed. Even as an experienced goal-setter, I will still occasionally catch an omission in checking over my own goal list by using these guidelines.


These people, even though they are fantastic achievers and very effective individuals, were striving for goals they felt they "should" haveó things they were impressed with as being what they should work for in their lives.

Sound crazy? You bet it is. However, many people are very busy striving for goals theyíve set without really personally owning them or taking personal responsibility for them.

Decisions you made as a child or in your early adult years could easily be influencing what you are now doing or feel you should be doing. The most common mistake is where people set goals which they feel they "should" set and are, therefore, seeking goals that they think someone else wants them to achieve.

An example of this kind of behavior could easily be the person who is continuously struggling to get rich but has never really given much thought as to whether he or she really wants to be rich.

A very common example of a non-owned goal is the concept of early retirement. Many people work and plan their lives in order to retire earlyó the Great American Dream. Seldom, however, is this retirement satisfactory. It usually results in either a depressed regression of the individual, sometimes resulting in a shorter life, or a new activity altogether.

Working towards a goal that someone else thinks you ought to achieve is not a very satisfying endeavor. Desire falls off sharply when you are just doing something because you think you should or it is the "right thing to do."

Recognizing whether or not your goals are really yours (not some good idea you picked up from your family or peers) is one of the most difficult parts of goal-setting. I have noticed that this area is where most people experience uncertainty about what they really want.

A simple test for whether or not your goal is really yours is to see how much it "turns you on." Are you excited about the possibility of attaining it? Do you feel a "rush" when you think about it or is it just your mind telling you that this is the kind of thing you "should" want in order to conform to some ideal picture of yourself?

Mimi, a real estate saleswoman, was telling me how many "goals" she had written down. Her problem, she explained to me, was getting to them. It appeared that her "goals" or the activities she had listed might not really be what she wanted since she had difficulty getting around to doing them. This is another test to see if you really want somethingówant it enough to stay excited about doing it.

Set your goals with the imagination of a child, but list them as an adult. Plan your goals with deadlines for their achievement and stages of accomplishment all planned out, as an intelligent adult; but, look at what you want as a child who has very few limitations on his or her imagination. Be creative, imaginative, and true to your own desires. Children have not yet been sold a bill of goods that serve as barriers to a totally self-fulfilled life. Did you ever notice how easily children get what they want?

Many people do the exact oppositeó setting goals with their minds, using the powers of reason, logic, and rational thinking, and then act like children planning how they are going to accomplish them. They keep their goals in their heads, vague and cloudy, and allow every activity around them to distract them.

Your own goals need to be totally ethical for you to enjoy achievement and satisfaction. Your ethics are the criteria, not someone elseís "good idea." You need to be absolutely ethical- true to your standards and morals for your goals to work. To be true to someone elseís ethics is "unethical," a lie, and will sabotage your satisfactionóthe goals you set will be somebody elseís.

Gary told me how much he wanted to start reading regularly, but he "never had the time." When I pressured him to keep looking at this goal, he realized he felt that he should read more and that he actually had no interest in reading! As a result of this realization, he was freed of this conflict and could relax and really enjoy "not reading!" By owning your goals you can rid yourself of any needless items you are carrying around in your head which you donít really wantóyou just think you want. These "unwanted" goals are examples of wasted energy and needless baggage for you to be carrying around.

Be Willing For It To Happen.

Picture yourself in, or with, the condition you want; see yourself being the kind of person you want to be, doing the things you want to do, having what you are expressing you want to have. Visualize the result; make certain you will have the result you desire. Imagine the exact feeling you will experience when you have reached your goal.

Does it fit? Are you willing to have it realized? Are you desirous of this goal becoming a reality or do you want to keep it as a dream?

Do you have any problem with your deservingness to have this goal realized? Are you afraid that there may not be enough of what you want? Are you concerned that if this goal is actually realized, there may be nothing left for you in the future?

If you are not absolutely certain that you are willing for your goal to become a reality, then it is a waste of time and energy on your part to even consider it as something to have on your goal list (unless the purpose is to simply have another item on your list).

I often wonder how willing people are to have their wants and desires realized when they steadfastly refuse to list what they want. They seemingly would rather remain muddled and unclear than to be clear and organized about that which they want. This seems to be an indication of unwillingness to have their goals realized.

Playboy magazine once published a cartoon that was very appropriate to the subject of "wanting, but unwilling to have." While God was parting the waters of the Red Sea, miraculously exposing a wide corridor to the Promised Land, a figure, who appeared to be Moses, was complaining to the heavens, "But weíll get our sandals all muddy!" This seems like a near-perfect example of how someone can be so unwilling to have a miracle performed on their behalf that they need to find fault with the way it was done.

Iíve seen numerous occasions when people found frustration and dissatisfaction working towards a predetermined goal only to discover that they were unconsciously sabotaging their progress, based upon their unwillingness to actually have it become a reality.

Who was it who said, "Be careful of what you want in life, you may get it"?

See It As Attainable

You need to see your goals as being attainable for yourself. Donít set your goals so high that you canít see any chance of their becoming real. It doesnít matter if others see any chance of their becoming real. It doesnít matter if others canít see them as attainable, as long as you can! If you donít see any way you can make it, you are just setting yourself up to lose at the goal-setting game. I see no way to provide guidelines for what is attainable for you; it is very personal and only you know how you feel about it.

Personally, I donít think we are capable of true desire for a condition to exist in our lives unless we possess the ability to attain it. Sometimes we set ourselves up to lose, by setting unattainable goals- but then this is not real desire- it is manufactured by considerations of what we think we should have.

Donít get trapped by going for goals that you "think" are attainable, based on the "everything is possible" theorem or belief. If you cannot see your goal as really attainable, for you, donít set it for yourself. We all have different personal realities and we have to be consistent with our own realities. What is considered possible by one person will not necessarily be considered as possible by another. Donít buy someone elseís idea of reality!

Personally, I donít spend time worrying about whether a desire of mine is unattainable. If I really want it, I know I am capable of attaining it. Discovering new capabilities in myself is a part of the fun and excitement of it all. This is my own personal approach and I certainly donít recommend you take it unless you agree totally with the concept.

If you donít happen to agree with me and would rather trust your own intellectual assessment of your capability to attain it, thatís fine, too. Whatever you do, donít set yourself up to lose! Your mind has to see that you can achieve the desired end that you designate.

Whatever you see as real and challenging ó yet possibleó makes for a good goal-setting subject. To set a goal that you dream about, but hold in a framework called "impossibility," or "Iíll never get that," or any other similar negative context, is foolish and unsupportive of your own well-being.

Jim is an engineer who has spent several years in the pursuit of expanding his consciousness and awareness. His goal might seem impossible to many peopleís standards and yet it is totally attainable from where he sits.

In a moment of looking quietly at decisions he had made in his life, Jim discovered a decision he made at the age of nine, while living in Arkansas. He decided that he had poor eyesight and subsequently developed such poor eyesight as to prove himself blind. He couldnít even read the large E at the top of most charts used for testing.

Preparing to leave San Francisco for a trip to India, Jim shared with me how he was progressing toward the elimination of his need to wear glasses. His goal was to achieve an ability to see without corrective lenses of any kindó a rather dramatic objective by most peopleís point of view. However, his reality was such that he saw it as being very attainable, even though extremely challenging.

He was using corrective contact lenses and had achieved 20/50 vision in the few months he had been working at it. At the age of 30, Jim was using the same intention to reverse his childhood decision, changing from a decision "not to see" to a decision " to see perfectly."

Be willing to take some risks! Adventure is what makes life exciting! Tax your confidence in yourself and allow a little uncertainty (about whether or not you can really do it) to enter into the picture. Allow just enough uncertainty to exist to excite you into doing what you want to do. No one said that it would not be difficult to achieve the desired results you wish. Life is not necessarily about things being comfortable and easy, as weíve seen in the preceding pages.

Intend It To Happen.

Your intention is the ultimate power in the universe. It is the source of all your energy to effect an accomplishmentó to make something happen that you want to have happen.

To demonstrate the power of intention, the power of our ability to manifest "miracles" in our day-to-day living, I could cite hundreds and hundreds of personal observations as well as recalling incidents shared by others. One situation in particular comes to mind, however.

David, a beautiful man who, at the time, was a practicing dentist, shared a story with me that I feel compelled to include here. While in South America, he was guided deep into the jungle country, traveling by cross-country vehicles in a convoy. It was a long hot trek and, while he enjoyed the trip in, he was not looking forward to the return trip to civilization. He began to fantasize as how he might return to civilization more comfortably.

Near their destination, he observed the traces of an old airfield. When he inquired about it, he was informed that planes no longer used the airstrip – it had been abandoned years before. He insisted on driving closer and inspecting the airfield, much to the impatience and opposition of his local guides and the rest of his party. While he was checking out the old airport, the drone of an airplaneís engine came into earshot.

David recalled how a small commercial aircraft landed while his party watched in awe. The pilot informed him that he needed to land in order to repair a simple mechanical problem. Once the crew had repaired the plane, the pilot informed David that heíd be pleased to give him a lift, since the plane was headed for the same destination as he was.

The bottom line — David wanted to fly out of the jungle rather than return by the overland route. A nonscheduled plane lands at the abandoned airfield, headed for the same destination, and has space available for an extra passenger. David wanted to fly back and he got to fly back! Additionally, Iíd like you to know that Davidís personal reality allows for "miracles" such as this. In other words, it was not all that "unreasonable" for David to create an airplane landing in the middle of the jungle. His own reality incorporated these kinds of incredible and "unbelievable" incidents.

Do you intend to improve the quality of your life? Do you intend to get as much satisfaction out of living as you can?

Do you honestly intend to have the things that you will be writing down soon? If what you want takes courage and risk, are you willing to take the risk? Do you have the courage? If not, can you develop your courage in order to allow you to get what you want?

I suggest that you look at goals as the words expressing your intention, not as "things Iíd like to have."

Sure, Iíd like to have a private executive Lear jet, a full-time crew, and all the money to maintain it. It would be nice, I am sure. However, I donít seriously intend to have it in my life. I have no energy or power behind the desire — it would be nice, but thatís all.

Without intention, there is no determination, no desirous attitude, no real will for it!

The Random House College Dictionary defines intent as "having the attention sharply fixed upon something; determined; having the mind or will fixed on some purpose or goal."

This element is probably the most frequently missing ingredient in peopleís lives. They may be able to state a few things they would like, but there is absolutely no intention behind the statements — words alone donít do it!

Conversely, many have an intention of which they are hardly aware — to conform to the same lifestyle and ambition of all their peers and contemporaries. Guess what? They get it. And then they wonder whatís missing in their lives!

See if you trust yourself to follow through on your goal. Are you trustworthy to deliver the goods? If you were observing yourself, would you trust the level of interest you possess? If you were your own boss, would you feel confident that you could do the job?

So, make certain that the things you will be stating and writing down are things you intend to have in your life.

Write It Down: Exactly What You Want. Writing down your goals is a commitment to the world; you have put your goal out into the physical universe when you write it down on paper. Written goals show that you are serious about them and that you have progressed beyond the "hoping it will all work out" level. Writing down what you want is the most crucial first step you can take towards reaching your goals.

Whenever there is any doubt as to whether or not you should write down a goal, whenever you arenít quite sure if you should write it down or not, go ahead. After all, what is the cost to you? Why not write it down? What harm could it possibly do? Weigh the possible benefits against the possible detriments.

Written goals serve to keep you thinking about what you want — your mind will unconsciously do what needs to be done in order to achieve it. And it usually happens automatically and without any conscious effort.

Considering the enormous quantities of goals that the average person can author, I find it inconceivable that anyone, no matter how intelligent, can keep a very clear picture of what they want in their heads. Most people seem to hibernate with vague concepts of what they want — "hoping" for things and "wishing" for events to happen.

Iíve heard "hope" referred to as "the language of the poor." Those who hope for things to work out, without taking steps towards working them out, are resigned to accept their position in this life, whatever it is.

Your goals should be written exactly as you want them. By exactly, I mean describing them as precisely and as specifically as is humanly possible, based on whatever characteristics your goal has that is important to you.

The purpose of being exact is so that you will know the precise instant that you have realized your goal. For example, letís say you want a new house within five years. Unless the type of house, location, size, and number of rooms, and all the other characteristics you have in mind are specified (including the ability to afford the house payments, taxes, and maintenance), you could end up owning a new house but experiencing grave disappointment in the specific home youíve acquired.

A little trick that the mind pulls on us sometimes is to make it very reasonable to compromise a goal if it is not expressed exactly as we wanted it. For example, if you have a goal such as "I want a new house that is larger than this one, in a nice neighborhood," when you had in mind a four-bedroom, three-bath home in a very exclusive area of the country — you could end up achieving the goal as you expressed it, but not as you wanted it! In other words, you could have achieved owning a newer house, a bigger house in another neighborhood, and still not have completed the picture of the actual house you wanted. This could leave a lessened degree of satisfaction than you could have achieved had you expressed your goal clearly and exactly. Your mind might even make it into a "failure" of some kind.

When your goal is expressed exactly and specifically, there is no doubt at all when you have reached it and there is clear cause for celebration! I know some people who even draw pictures or "image" what they want, making the goal even more real for themselves. One man actually selected the house he wanted, picked the color he was going to paint it, and prepared a budget in order to decorate it exactly as he wanted it.

Remember, the more significant you plan to make your goal, the more exact you need to be about expressing it. Obviously, the need to be specific is minimized when the significance is reduced. To learn to ski for fun, for example, while still requiring some exactness about the level of expertise you want to achieve, need not be expressed as accurately and as succinctly as the same goal with a much higher significance — such as wanting to become an Olympic champion!

Set your goal so that there is no possible way that you could miss recognizing that you attained it. Be exact and precise and you will know.

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Write: Exactly When You Want It.

Goals need to have a deadline for their accomplishment. By definition, goals need to be specified within some kind of time framework. Goals cannot exist out of time. A goal is an event, a happening, an accomplishment, and as such, requires a time zone for its attainment to be meaningful.

The largest time zone available to you, of course, is your lifetime. While your goals can be set for a nearly infinite number of deadlines, these deadlines will all be within your lifetime.

I recommend that deadlines for your goals be on an individual goal basis. Do not attempt to classify your goals with regard to one-year, two-year, or five-year deadlines. Let each goal or desire have its appropriate time for completion.

Deadlines for the accomplishment of your goals need to be exact — down to the exact day, in the case of short-term goals (the time of the day may even be an appropriate deadline, depending upon your particular goal). Remember that maximum satisfaction comes from accomplishment when it is manifested exactly as you wanted it, exactly when you wanted it.

Write: In Positive Language.

Goals written in a positive, affirmative manner tend to support accomplishment more than goals that are expressed as they relate to a negative or undesirable condition.

By writing the goal as a statement of the desired condition, and not as a function of changing the undesired condition, you do not need to drag around the old condition or situation you want to see behind you.

For instance, letís say you want to lose twenty pounds. Rather than writing your goal as a function of "losing" weight, a constant reminder of your overweightness, write your goal as a description of the way you want it — the new condition. If you weigh 160 pounds and you want to weigh 140 pounds, express your goal as "I weigh 140 pounds," not as "I have lost 20 pounds." State, "I am supportive of others," rather than, "I no longer criticize others." Carrying around the old, unwanted condition can be a burden and impair your progress.

This simple technique can save you considerable energy and, as a result, support the accomplishment of any of your goals with far less struggle and effort.

It is far easier to create a new, fresh condition than it is to alter, change, or remodel an older, established one. This approach has proven very valuable and I would like you always to keep this technique in mind when expressing your goals, here and in the future.

Write: As If It Exists Now.

The present time technique assists you in visualizing your goal as if it already exists. A goal stated in future time is likely to always remain in the future.

It has been found to be extremely valuable to state all goals as if they already existed. Like the positive, affirmative guideline, this does not burden you with the way things used to be or the way things were and avoids associating yourself with the struggle in that transformation.

Similarly, utilizing the present tense in your wants and desires assists you in picturing what you want as it will exist for you, not as something you want but do not have.

For example, instead of expressing a goal for having your teeth in perfect shape as, "I want my teeth and gums to be in perfect order by...," state, " it is [date] and my teeth and gums are in perfect order." Rather than writing, "I will . . .," write, "I am. . . .."


Your goals list needs to be flexible and maintainable. Our lives in this physical universe are in a constant condition of change. Likewise, our desires, tastes, and personalities are in a constant state of fluctuation.

Since we live in an environment that represents change, our list of goals should be flexible, adjustable, and maintainable in order that we may continually review our list from a present-time position, appropriate to what our current situation is. It would make little sense, for instance, to be continually striving for a particular goal, simply because we stated it a year or two ago, regardless of whether or not we still want it. A goals list is not something that we write out once in our lifetime, etch it on stone, and bury it away for eternity. A goals list is a stated position of what we want for ourselves in our lives at any one particular given time.

In order to continue to expand the experience of satisfaction in our lives, we need to be continually in touch with our goals and monitor our progress towards their attainment. Quite often, when Iím reviewing my goals list, I notice that I have lessening desire for an item that I had previously felt very strongly about. As a result, I will lower its priority, restate it, modify, or, sometimes, eliminate it totally from my goals list!

Later in this book, Iíll discuss the benefits of tending your goals in greater detail. I wanted to make the point here, however, that maintaining your goals list is extremely important for a continuing life of ongoing satisfaction.

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I like a state of continued becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.

George Bernard Shaw

Discovering what things we want is a truly exhilarating experience ó a joy, a delight, a true discovery process! Many people possess an attitude that spelling out what they want would be burdensome, adding work or assignments or new loads to an already hectic life-schedule. I have found that the opposite is true, however ó that barriers are released and it becomes a lightening process: TAKING AWAY burdens that prevent us from fully experiencing our lives. We can look to teachers and prophets, psychologists and gurus, or others outside of ourselves for the answers. However, the answers are all inside us and discovering them can be a ball! Only we can define our own happiness. As William Shakespeare wrote, "How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes!" Looking outside of ourselves for what we want is an automatic point of view that keeps us separate from what we want. It gets in the way. Looking into our inner self maintains the "oneness" that keeps us in charge of our own universe — where we are and what we want. And, we don't have to depend on others for our happiness. We don't have to ask Santa Claus for it! It is important that our goals are our very own and nobody else's. Our intentions need to be expressed out of who we are, not what we think we should be. If we are concerned about "shoulds," we create a detached point of view — a separateness that prevents or blocks us from what we want - a frustrating experience at best! If you asked a thousand people from a typical sampling of our society, "What do you want in your life?", the vast majority would pause and then utter somewhat confusedly, "You know, I really don't know!" Try it on some friends and you will witness this phenomenon yourself.

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