Elementary Goal Setting

Make it up and make It happen!

Elementary Goal Setting

Make it up and make It happen!

This elementary goal setting tip is based on David Allen’s approach to getting things done (GTD).

Allen refers to “Make It Up and Make It Happen,” his problem solving and work efficiency tool. However, its basic principles can also be used as elementary goal setting tips for life.

Essentially, David Allen suggests that “there are only two problems in life”:

Problem #1:You know what you want, and you don’t know how to get it.

Problem #2: You don’t know what you want.

The solutions? To solve problem #1, you need to make things happen. Determine how you get from here to there. This is about control and action.

To solve problem #2, you need to make it up. Decide what outcome you’re after. This is about direction and focus.

Below are some tips and links to our other pages, which may help you use this elementary goal setting approach. When used as a life planning tool, we think it makes more sense to think about the problems in reverse order.

First ask yourself: what is it you want from life? Then ask yourself: how do you achieve it?

Easy? Well maybe, but if it sounds a bit too simple, remember Einstein’s words (in our article What Great Managers Know: It’s Obvious!):

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.”

Elementary Goal Setting: What Do You Want From Life?

The best place to start is in thinking about what you want from life. Most people think in terms of either success, happiness, or a combination of both. What’s the difference? As Dale Carnegie famously said:

“Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.”

Whatever your goal, try to think of success as a balance. Jack Canfield talks about clarifying your vision of an ideal life. He recommends writing down the details of this life, how it looks and feels.

Try to be as specific as possible. Giving some detailed thought to this vision is perhaps the first step in achieving it. Make sure you include each of the following areas if you’re seeking what Canfield calls a balanced, successful life:

Elementary goal setting

  • Work and career
  • Finances
  • Recreation and free time
  • Health and fitness
  • Relationships
  • Personal goals
  • Contribution to the larger community

When you think about what you want to do with your life think about building some of the principles of happiness into your goals. Happiness, it is argued, is achieved by combining:

  • The pleasant life (pleasures and enjoyment)
  • The good life (engagement and productivity)
  • The meaningful life (significance)

There are some thought provoking articles on the site to help you. Read Stress Management Tip: Know When Enough Is Enough for some further insights into what success means. You might also like to look at another of our goal setting tips in: Do What You Love, This might also help you think both about what you might want to do, and crucially how you might make it happen.

Part of answering the question “what do you want” is to determine what success means to you.

John Ruskin, the Victorian reformist proposes a challenging elementary goal setting tip:

“The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.”

And if you looking for quotes to inspire you to make it happen ….

Firstly, Thomas Edison once said:

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Secondly, Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

And one final classic quote, again from John Ruskin:

“What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.”

So how do you make it happen?

Well try these elementary goal setting tips from Jack Canfield’s Success Factors:

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life and your success
  • Decide what you want
  • Set specific and measurable goals for all parts of your personal vision
  • Break these goals down into specific action steps
  • Create affirmations for each one of your goals
  • Practice visualising your completed goals every day
  • Take action on your most important goals every day (except rest days)
  • Pay the price by doing whatever it takes
  • Ask for whatever you need, with no fear of rejection
  • Ask for and respond to feedback
  • Commit to never ending improvement
  • Persist in the face of whatever obstacles you encounter

But don’t forget……

….whatever your goals, or whatever your idea of success, be sure to enjoy yourself along the way. Treat life like a dance. Success on the dance floor is not about getting from one side of the room to the other. It’s about enjoying the journey.

There Are Four Kinds of People!

To make it up or make it happen you need to make a decision, because whilst David Allen suggests there are only two problems in life, unfortunately there are four kinds of people!

  1. People who watch things happen – leading safe but un-interesting lives, watching others making it up and making it happen
  2. People to whom things happen – not having made the most of possibilities or answered either of the two problems, they often end up having no choice, things happen to them.
  3. People who don’t know what is happening – out of touch with reality and therefore having little influence over their future. Though at least they’re probably not worrying about it!
  4. People who make it up and make things happen – those who know what they want, make plans and take the actions to achieve their goals.

Decide to be a person who will make it up and make it happen!

One final elementary goal setting tip. Don’t forget:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill.

If you’d like to read more about David Allen’s ideas, follow this link to our article The David Allen Time Management Approach. There is a great short video included on this page, showing David Allen explaining his approach. It’s well worth the the seven minutes and twelve seconds!

Take action on your elementary goal setting!

SMART Goals, SHARP Goals e-guideYou can also find our more about the benefits of goal setting in our e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals to help you do just this. The guide contains 30 pages and 5 tools to help you to set SMART goals, then take SHARP action to achieve them.

It includes:
  • How do you define goal setting?
  • What features of goal setting are important, if we want to ensure they are more likely to be successfully achieved?
  • What kinds of goals are more likely to make us motivated to achieve them?
  • How do you set SMART goals?
  • Why do goals matter?
  • What kind of goals should you pursue to be happier in what you do?
  • How do you set team goals?
  • What strategies can you apply to overcome barriers to setting goals?
  • How do you develop SHARP plans of action that help you to achieve your goals?
  • What techniques can you use to get things done?
  • How do you set personal goals?

Tool 1: Conventional goal setting
Tool 2: Setting SMART goals that motivate
Tool 3: The kind of goals that will make you happier
Tool 4: Taking SHARP action
Tool 5: Team goals flowchart
Tool 6: Eight personal goal setting questions

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