A Story about Setting Goals


Greetings from Sydney, Australia. We’re officially 8 days from book publication date, and tomorrow morning, I’m going to be doing a mini interview on The Today Show on Australia national TV, which is pretty insane. It’ll be my first time on TV, so hopefully it goes well – if anyone’s based in Australia, tune in at 08:20am on Tues 19th Dec (and if you can record it somehow and send me a link after, I’ll be very grateful). Hopefully it isn’t a total train wreck hehe

Anyway, this week, I wanted to share a fun story from a chap called Jim Rohn (1930 – 2009). Jim was an American entrepreneur and personal development guru who ran seminars, wrote books and recorded audio cassette tapes around the 1960s-1990s (ish). I’ve been exploring some of Jim’s work through books, recordings of seminars etc, to see what cool stuff I can learn about personal development, productivity, success etc from these “older” sources.

There’s a really cool story that he tells in one of his seminars about the importance of goal setting.

He describes how, as a 25yo man, he was totally broke, and blamed the government, taxes, the high price of goods etc, for his lack of professional success. One day by happenstance, he met an entrepreneur named John Earl Schoaff who became his mentor, and helped change his life. Mr Shoaff taught Jim many things, but one specific conversation that changed Jim’s life went as follows.

This excerpt is from the book 7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness by Jim Rohn

One morning, two weeks after I started working for him, Mr. Shoaff and I were having breakfast together. Just as I was about to finish my eggs, he said, “Jim, let’s take a look at your list of goals so that we can review and discuss them. Maybe that’s the best way I can help you right now.”

“But I don’t have a list with me,” I replied.

“Well, is it out in your car or at home somewhere?”

“No, sir, I don’t have a list anywhere.”

Mr. Shoaff sighed. “Well, young man, looks like this is where we’d better start.” Then, looking directly into my eyes, he said, “If you don’t have a list of your goals, I can guess your bank balance within a few hundred dollars.”

He guessed right. And that really got my attention. I was astonished. “You mean that if I had a list of my goals my bank balance would change?” I asked. “Drastically,” he said. That day I became a student of the art and science of goal-setting.

In preparation for my Feel-Good Productivity Annual Planning Workshop that’s happening on 6th Jan 2024 (for the lovely people who’ve very kindly preordered my book), I’ve been reading a tonne about goal-setting.

And the more I read about it, the more I realise (a) “man setting goals is ridiculously important”. And (b) “man, most people (including me), don’t give anywhere near enough attention to goal-setting as we should”.

It’s all well and good trying to “be more productive”, but if that productivity is taking us in a direction that we haven’t put much thought into, it might be a lot of wasted effort.

Our choice of goals is arguably the single biggest determinant in shaping the course of our lives. Someone with the goal to become a doctor is going to have a radically different life to someone with the goal to become a professional painter. Someone with the goal to get married and have a family is going to have a very different life to someone with the goal of “stay single forever and enjoy my freedom”.

Our goals paint a picture of a destination that gives us a direction to work towards. Of course, we don’t want to be overly attached to the achievement of the goal, and of course, we know by now that the journey more important than the destination. But even so, there’s no journey without a destination in mind. And the choice of destination radically changes which journey you take. If you’re trying to get from New York to Buenos Aires, your journey is going to look pretty different than if you were trying to get from New York to Timbuktu (Timbuktu is, incidentally, a city in Mali, which is a country in West Africa… I didn’t know that until just now).

All this to say – especially with New Years resolution season coming up, the goals we choose to pursue can totally change our lives. We can choose to not think too hard about those goals, and let the winds of fate and our unconscious programming to create them for us. Or we can take responsibility over the direction of our own lives, and give some thought and intentionality to the goals we’d like to aim for in 2024 to transform our lives in the ways that we choose.

Have a great week!


PS: On 6th Jan during the Feel-Good Productivity live online workshop (which will be recorded for those of you who can’t make it live), I’ll be taking you through some guided reflection and goal-setting exercises that’ll help you set some inspiring, intentional goals for 2024. If that sounds up your street, please make sure you’ve submitted your preorder receipt for Feel-Good Productivity here. If you haven’t yet grabbed yourself a copy of the book, you’ve got until 30th Dec to do so if you want to get a free ticket to the live event 🙂

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🎈 Everything’s Changing – Life Update

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so just checking in with you all 🙂 As ever, thanks for watching and following the journey xx

✍️ Quote of the Week

“Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?”

From Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers. Resurfaced with Readwise.

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