Goal Setting: How to Live Above the Line

Jeff Herring

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The beginning of a new year brings with it a bit of a worn-out tradition:

Setting New Year's Resolutions.

Warning: This is goal setting and goal getting only for the serious.

First, choose a goal that is big enough to inspire you. You want to choose something that, come this time next year, you will be proud to have accomplished because your life will be different. Wimpy goals produce wimpy results.

Next, make sure you have a big enough reason to want to accomplish your big goal. If there's a big enough reason, you can be powerfully and consistently motivated. Having a big enough reason also allows you to blow through the deadly “I want to's. "

The first one to blow through is “I want to want to, " which is really just a should in disguise. As in “I know I really should save more money; it's a good idea. " It's intellectual assent with no intention of making it real in your life.

The next one to blow through is “I want to, " which is only a little better than I want to want to. It's weak because anything that stands in your way will easily throw you off course.

After you have chosen a big goal, with a big enough reason why, the next step is to put your goal in writing. The weakest ink is still better than the best memory. So put it in writing, and not just once.

Write your goal down on a 3-by-5 index card every day. This will remind you what is important and helps keep you focused and on track. Write your goal in what I call the positive present tense, such as: “I am so happy that . . . " Write your goal as if you have already accomplished it. An example would be “I am so happy that I am saving money for my future. "

The next step is to live your life above the line. This is a concept I recently learned from Mark Victor Hansen of “Chicken Soup for the Soul" fame and recent co-author of “The One-Minute Millionaire. " Above the line is learning and personal responsibility; below the line is blaming. And when it comes to achieving goals, we are very skilled at blaming. We blame others when we think that someone kept us from our goal. We blame circumstances when we believe if only this would not have happened . . . And we blame ourselves when we beat up on ourselves for slipping from the path to our goals.

Living above the line means looking at each and every situation as an opportunity to learn more about how to achieve our goals. Live below the line and you will not achieve the results you want; instead you will just have a few good-sounding reasons why you did not make it. Live above the line and you radically increase your chances for achieving your big goal.

Your next task is to get way out in front of your goals. You can do this in at least two ways. The first is to take at least one action toward your goal immediately, in the same day you set your goal. The next way to get it is to do so much toward it immediately that you build tremendous momentum that will carry you through. Taking massive action toward your goal right now is a sure-fire way to make certain your new way of living quickly becomes a habit.

So get going, NOW. Because for our purposes, NOW stands for No Other Way.

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