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Lots of people set goals. Very few people actually achieve them.

Why is that? What separates the quitters from the achievers?

It’s probably not what you think.

Many people think the difference comes down to willpower or sheer persistence. Those are important qualities, for sure, but it’s much more than that. Achieving significant goals requires a mastery of all three steps in the following process:

3 steps to goal setting blog

With this in mind, you have to ask yourself: How likely is it you’re going to complete a goal if you haven’t first selected the right goal, that will actually deliver the outcome you want, and implemented the right strategies to obtain it?

In other words, our completion rate of goals, given our lack of understanding on how to create goals in the first place, is actually pretty commendable. And we can drive those numbers much higher if we focus on getting the first part of the process right from the get go.

Of course, you’re probably not starting this process for the first time, are you? Chances are you already have a few goals already on the books. So let’s put them through the goal-setting wringer, shall we?

Below are 8 questions you should ask yourself before narrowing down which goals to commit to. These questions will give you a general idea if you have a goal that will propel you forward or just hold you back (and make you feel rather lousy about yourself in the process).

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I was reading a list of goals from a client and nearly laughed out loud. I work with a lot of overachievers, but I thought this was perhaps the most ridiculously overambitious list yet.

But I didn’t want to say that directly. I wanted him to figure that out for himself. So I told him to add up how many hours he thought each task would take to accomplish and report back to me.

He estimated it would take him approximately 15 hours a day over the next 90 days to accomplish the goals he’d described. And he was completely unfazed at the prospect. In fact, it would be difficult to describe his emotional state as anything other than eager.

This was an interesting response considering that when I asked him to choose one word to describe his 2015, he replied, “Overwhelmed.”

This is a man who loves his work. He also happens to be exceptionally good at it. When I asked him what he would do with more free time if he had it, he had a hard time coming up with a response. The idea of relaxing on a beach or getting lost in a book wasn’t unappealing, but those activities had a hard time competing with his passion-based business.

That interaction got me to thinking. Is there a meaningful difference between overwhelmed and busy? And is it possible that the trick to stop feeling overwhelmed had nothing to do with how busy you are? 

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Everyone deserves a chance.

A chance at health and happiness, love and community. A chance at deeply meaningful work that you can be proud of. A chance to start over, at any age or circumstance, and pursue your curiosity and passion wherever they may take you.

These are some of the guiding principles in my business and I’ve worked hard to extend those chances to as many people as possible. But it’s not just about chances, is it?

It’s about having the capacity—the mindset, confidence, and resilience—to recognize and capitalize on life’s opportunities. To avoid the feelings of helplessness when you suffer setbacks. To believe in your ability to navigate the unknown or uncertain.

These things aren’t easy for any of us, but few factors are as important as the environment you experienced during your formative years.

That’s why I’ve decided to team up with my friend Joshua Becker in support of his nonprofit, The Hope Effect, which aims to bring a better life to orphans around the world.

8 million children live in orphanages. But there is growing research that the traditional, institutional care that most orphans receive may do long-term harm. When children do not receive adequate personal interaction within a loving environment, development is stunted and learning abilities are delayed or lost. Many kids age out only to face a future of crime, prostitution, or trafficking.

The Hope Effect aims to change that by rethinking the orphanage design. Family-style homes for two caretakers and eight children in a campus-like setting provide opportunity for each child to flourish and thrive. Access to health, dental, and social care is provided while each child is prepared for the future through education, responsibility, support and the structure that parents were designed to provide.

I’m asking the Everyday Bright community to help me raise $2000 to extend the chance at a better life to orphans in Honduras. If just 100 people donated $20 (the same amount many of us spend on silly gifts for the office holiday party), we’d hit the goal.

But as a fellow big-hearted citizen of the world, I know there are many, many worthwhile causes asking for your support, so I wanted to find a way to make this a bigger win-win for everyone involved. Here’s what I’m proposing: