Don't Just Be a Goal Setter, Be a Goal Getter! - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Don't Just Be a Goal Setter, Be a Goal Getter!

Jul 08, 2014


I have always hated waking up in the morning.

Ever since school when my mother was my snooze button, to now, when my phone does that job, I always need '10 minutes more'.

I wanted to be better with my mornings - wake up early, go for a walk, do some writing, eat a healthy breakfast and get to work on time. Good goals, right?

Instead I struggle out of bed long after I'm supposed to, run out of the house, and routinely find myself pleading with taxi drivers, 'jaldi chalo please jaldi chalo!'

But you know what? I have never missed a flight. No matter how early in the morning or late at night - how godforsaken the hour - I am always on time to board a plane... or train...or bus, for that matter.

Why, when I'm traveling somewhere, do I not feel the need to reach for the snooze button?

I realized then that for me, the love of travel exceeded the love of sleep, so waking up for travel was a profitable decision. On the other hand my love of sleep was greater than the advantage of going for a walk. When I finally do drag myself out of bed it's because the reward of extra sleep no longer beats the risk of losing my job.

Our decisions are often driven subconsciously by weighing profit against loss...and surprisingly, not just financial decisions.

If we do not understand what motivates us, we set ourselves up for failure by choosing goals we cannot fulfill because we subconsciously find the actions required to fulfill them unprofitable.

You decide, 'I'm going to stop taking sugar in my coffee' but that only lasts a few days. 'After Diwali I will start saving every month' you think, but the spending never stops. That's because even though these goals are profitable, these actions are not profitable for you in the short-term.

People assume that those who do not achieve things like perfect health and massive wealth are lazy, or not smart enough, or lack will power... but that's just not true.

'People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals - that is, goals that do not inspire them,' according to a renowned and thoughtful self-help writer, Anthony Robbins.

So if your goals are bringing you down, instead of taking you higher, then the problem is not you, it's the goal.

Your goals can inspire you - be an opportunity for growth and improvement, to take control. To set goals that you control, instead of those that control you, you need designer goals - goals that you custom-design taking into account your own life's profit/loss statement

Your goals must have four characteristics: be specific to you, detailed in their clarity, make you hopeful not miserable (i.e. more profit than loss), and supported by external motivation from those around you.

Make your goal specific to you alone

Like everybody else, you are unique. There really is no one size fits all formula. Everyone has to have a unique experience of life, success, and achievements. You cannot import goals from elsewhere. You can and should look elsewhere for ideas, examples, and inspiration. Look around you and see what behaviours and outcomes you like that you want to incorporate in your life. Then, sit down and create goals that are inspired by those, but uniquely yours (not like Anu Malik's songs).

Some people believe that morning is the most beneficial time for exercise. So I kept trying to go for walks in the morning. But then I realized that was not a profitable transaction for me, and changed the goal in a way that I could still achieve it. So now I choose to walk in the evenings after work. I would still rather be reading - that is of much greater enjoyment for me. To balance that I download audio books on my phone and listen to them while I walk - I get my profit and achieve my goal.

Design goals so detailed that you can picture them

One advantage of not importing goals is that you have to be detailed in your own design of a goal. Your goals are not just what anybody else thinks are good goals, like saving more or regular exercise. They are unique and specific to you. Your goal must fit your life so neatly that you can picture it as a part of life before it even becomes a part.

Regular exercise is a good goal - just not good enough. Say what you mean exactly - three mornings of one-hour yoga and a twice-weekly 45-minute walks at the racecourse? Now picture yourself doing these things - see yourself doing surya namaskara... driving to the racecourse, walking past the horses and onto the mud track. If you can't picture these, adjust them. Maybe you actually prefer walking around the neighbourhood instead? Do that, then.

Your goal must give you a feeling of hope.

Not only the outcome, but the actual work you do for the goal must feel good. Say your goal is to save more. You read somewhere that a recommended ratio to follow is 50/30/20... 50% of your income goes to fulfill your needs (rent, bills, etc.), 30% goes to wants (entertainment, clothes, children's demands, etc.) and 20% savings. But every month you twist yourself into knots trying to save that 20% and every month you fall short. You constantly feel bad, you are miserable, your hair is turning white, and still your finances are out of control - this is not profitable.

Instead of suffering through it, adjust it. But 20% is not a magic number, maybe it is somebody else's but definitely not yours. Find your own number. What happens if you adjust a little - save 15% instead? Picture it happening - if the thought is making you frown, adjust some more. You need a balanced number, one you can achieve, which gives you satisfaction of improvement, and which makes you feel hope, rather than dread. Refine your goals to make every step of it profitable, not just the long-term end.

Get external motivation to support your goals.

When you set a goal, external support - moral, emotional, educational - whatever you need, you should go out and get it. Relatives, friends, even writers you admire... people who have gone through similar experiences love giving advice and sharing their stories. We do sankoch and hesitate in reaching out to people because the loss caused by rejection seems greater than getting the help/advice/guidance. But remember your long-term profit, and take action.

I often turn to books for support. The stories of those who have been down the path I am taking energize me. That's how I became interested in the writings of Mark Ford. His essays are motivational, and have infused my wealth building goals with renewed energy.

I know you want more. You have written to me asking for bigger ideas on creating wealth and living richer lives. So I've asked Ritika, my colleague at Common Sense Living, to bring Mark's writing directly to you... she's eager to tell you what she's come up with so I'll leave it for now...

In the meanwhile, start setting goals that align with your natural inclination to maximise profit and minimise loss. You can adjust the goals to make them doable, and train your mind to focus on long-term profit.

Your mantra doesn't have to be 'work, work, and work' then maybe someday I will stop working and become happy. Using the profit/loss logic you can design goals that will inspire you to go higher than you thought possible, while also enabling you to enjoy the journey of your life, and fill it with hope.

How do you achieve your goals? Do share your goal setting ideas with our readers, we are always looking for inspiration!

P.S.: Please check out and Like the brand new Facebook page we just created for Common Sense Living.


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7 Responses to "Don't Just Be a Goal Setter, Be a Goal Getter!"

Anil Nag

08 Jul, 2015

nothing more than my previous comments.

Anil Nag

08 Jul, 2015

you shd, always b short abt. the matter u want 2 impress upon ors.

Madlyn baida

18 Jun, 2015

I what know about more information so i what teaching my people in my country and change their mind set to know about what is Right and what is Rogre

Like (1)


09 Jul, 2014

Your article is very interesting to read. Keep up the good work

Like (1)


09 Jul, 2014

The idea of setting a goal was just like a kaleidoscope , so far to me. But after reading today's article ,it appears quite easy to set a goal which is TAILOR MADE and follow it . Thanks for a new angle Tushar

Like (1)

Sundaravaradan S

08 Jul, 2014

Hi Anisa Virji, What a nice and motivating writing! (I am 65 years Old). Read many books.. Your writing is different, touching Humanity. Wish you Long Life and Good work and Happiness!

G K Patel

08 Jul, 2014

I have not set goals in my life, I was inspired by my uncle who was succesful lawer. Today I got everything in my life, to live peaceful life. I was also inspired by the BillGetts statement, if you are born poor is not your but if you die poor is your falt. So I think I am not goal setter but goal getter. I always read your all writings whenever I received. This give very good informative.


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