“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

Do you know anyone who does not want an awesome life — both in terms of our professional success and also in terms of enjoying personal satisfaction?

Of course, when you ask people, everyone wants to earn more money, live a more exciting life and experience lots of positive emotions.

But here is the real question:

If I asked you to describe your clear vision for the next ten years, in how much detail would you be able to share this with me?

From my studies on high performance, I realized that one thing that separates top athletes, businessmen and entrepreneurs, is that they constantly think about their future, which is why they know exactly what it is they want, and how they plan to achieve this.

In other words:

They are super intentional about their ambitions. They also have long-term pictures about the precise outcomes they desire, as well as the benefits these will trigger, which is exactly why they are able to continuously push themselves towards excellence.

At first, this may sound overwhelming:

Not everyone knows exactly what they want from their lives in say five years from now.

And that is fine:

Sometimes, we just want to enjoy the moment, free from any expectations and ambitions.

At the same time, it makes sense that we can’t achieve big dreams if we don’t even know what they really are.

So if you are sensing that you are drifting through life without any clear plan, then you have come to the right place.

Let me show you three ways that have helped me become super clear about my personal life goals, and that will make a big difference for you as well.

1) Ask yourself powerful questions

I am constantly surprised how our brain is able to come up with powerful answers if only we ask it the right questions! Therefore we want to make it a habit to ask ourselves meaningful questions on a regular basis. This one exercise has helped me gain so much more clarity than anything else.

I recommend that we focus on three important categories when asking ourselves questions:

  • Our Personal Goals
  • Our People Goals
  • Our Professional Goals

A) Personal Goals

To become the kind of person who feels proud about himself and who lives according to her highest personal values experiences positive emotions on a consistent basis, and is healthy and fit, it is helpful to have a vision of what we would like our personal life to look like.

We can do this by asking ourselves questions like:

  • Who do I want to be?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • Why is this important to me?
  • What can I do immediately to improve my personal well-being?

B) People Goals

Most of us flourish when they experience meaningful relationships.
Therefore I make it a practice to constantly ask myself how I can improve my relationships with the most important people in my life.

Here are some of the questions I like to ask myself:

  • How do I want to show up to the most important people in my life?
  • How can I inspire the people around me?
  • What kind of experiences do I want to enjoy with the people close to me?
  • How can I improve the key relationships in my life?

C) Professional Goals

If you are ambitious then your career will probably take up a big chunk of your life. No wonder that we link our professional success so closely to our personal well being.
In order to experience professional breakthroughs, it will help to ask ourselves questions like:

  • How can I get better at what I do?
  • How can I enjoy the work I do?
  • How can I make an impact on what I do?
  • If I had limited money and time, what would I be doing?

2) Visualize your dreams

By asking powerful questions, we gain clarity of what it is we really want.

Next, we also want to attach positive emotions towards these big goals. This is how we program our brain to pursue dreams that seem difficult to obtain because they require us to develop new skill sets and competencies.

Now here is the problem:

Like a thermostat, our brain creates a set point of what we think is possible for us in key areas of our life. These beliefs are the result of past experiences and past conditioning.  Based on our internal feedback, our brain sorts out the 400 billion bits of information we pick up every single second, and filters out around 2000 items that shape our habits, thoughts, and expectations.

Since most of our behavior is automatic, we are usually not aware of the invisible programs that run our lives. This is why we get so frustrated when we fail to achieve our desired outcomes, despite our incredible efforts.

The good news is that our brain also has kind of a search engine called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) which can help us find opportunities, people, and resources needed to obtain our goals if we program it to do so. This is why we are able to pursue dreams that require us to grow beyond our current capabilities.

So how can we activate our RAS?

From the world of sport, we know about the power of visualization.

For example, in a study by psychologist Alan Richardson with basketball players it was found that just by visualizing free throws for 20 consecutive days, participants were able to improve almost as much as another group that practiced for the same duration.

As Golf star Jack Nicklaus once said:

“I never hit a shot — not even in practice- without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head.”

Does this mean we can be successful without doing taking real action and by simply visualizing our goals?

Of course not!

But it does mean we can program our mind to help us increase the odds of achieving our dreams, by attaching positive emotions and outcomes to our hard work.

For example, when I speak to young ambitious tennis players, I ask them to vividly visualize themselves winning a big event and running into the stands to hug their team, family, and friends. I want them to feel the joy and excitement that such a moment of success would trigger. Gradually, they can start seeing themselves become the kind of person who loves to persist through obstacles to pursue big dreams.

One of the reasons why visualizations are so powerful is because our RAS can pass on information from our conscious brain to our non-conscious brain. As it is not able to distinguish reality from fantasy, we can, therefore, upgrade our expectations related to our goals, which our RAS then passes on to our non-conscious mind.

Over time, we not only start believing in our abilities to accomplish our goals but also start building up the desire and persistence to follow through with them.  This is how we literally reset our inner thermostat!

IMPORTANT TIP: To get the best results, gradually increase the frequency, duration, vividness, and intensity of your visualizations. In other words, the more often you picture your future, the longer this practice lasts, the stronger you capture the experiences with all your senses, and the more positive emotions you attach to the outcomes you desire, the more impact your visualizations will have. This is why I do a short visualization every evening before I go to sleep.

3) Writing  down our main goals

So now that we are a bit clearer about our long-term dreams, and visualize them on a consistent basis, let’s focus on specific shorter term goals.

How can we prime our mind so it will help us complete goals we set for ourselves for say the next 12 months?

In a study about goal setting, conducted by Gail Matthews, participants were divided into five groups.

  • Group 1 (the control group) was asked to do nothing else;
  • Group 2 had to write down their goals on paper;
  • Group 3 had to write down their goals and add actionable commitments;
  • Group 4 had to do the same as Group 3 but also tell a friend about their goals.
  • Group 5 was asked to additionally ask to send this friend a weekly progress report.

After a month the groups were asked to report on the percentage of goals that they had achieved, and these were the results.

  • Group 1 – 43%
  • Group 2 – 61%
  • Group 3 – 51%
  • Group 4 – 64%
  • Group 5 – 76%

In other words, writing down our goals makes a big difference with regards to the likelihood of following through with them.

When I first did this, I would write down 3-5 goals from different areas of my life.

I would write them down as if I had already achieved these goals.

The crazy thing is that almost every goal that I would write down on a daily basis actually would come true.

I know this sounds crazy, but let me share a few examples:

  • I am a bestselling author.
  • I feel fitter and more energized and ever before.
  • I am married to the woman of my dreams.
  • I live in a house I built for myself.
  • I earn XXX per year.
  • I travel the world.
  • I work with world-class athletes.

Productivity expert Michael Hyatt recommends you not only write down your goals but makes them extremely visible by for example placing them next to your computer screen, in your wallet and any other place you are likely to see them frequently. I did this until my girlfriend (who became my wife) moved in with me and complained about this picture of a hot girl which was stuck inside my dressing closet….

 

4) Take Action Immediately

Becoming clear about our goals is great, but it is not enough.

We also need to take action.

If we don’t, we not only fail to see any results.

We also stop believing in our ability to follow through with our dreams.

And that is when having a vision becomes pointless.

Since getting started is the hardest part to pursuing any new goals, I recommend this:

Choose one of your goals, and decide right now what one action step you can take immediately.

This is how you instantly build some momentum.

OK, let’s recap the 4 steps that will help you become super clear about what it is you really want to achieve, and how you can start moving towards your big goals immediately:

Step #1: Schedule Thinking time.

Schedule a weekly time and place where you can think about your life free from any distractions. You can sit somewhere by yourself, go for a walk, or find a secluded place to chill.
Dedicate half an hour to ask yourself questions like:

  1. Who do I really want to be?
  2. What do I want to achieve in my life?
  3. What relationships do I want to experience?
  4. What skill do I want to master?
  5. What kind of impact do I want to have towards, friends, family, clients and other people around me?
  6. How will I feel having achieved these goals?

Step #2: Visualize Daily

Spend 20 minutes daily to visualize yourself living both a successful and fulfilling life. Try to experience the emotions of joy and satisfaction that accomplishing your big dreams would give you and your loved ones, in as much detail as possible. Also, think about the obstacles you may face and picture yourself overcoming them, one by one.

Step #3: Write Down Your Goals

Choose 3-5 goals you would like to accomplish within the next 12 months, and make it a habit to write them down every single day as if you have already achieved them (i.e I am a best selling author).

I recommend you try this immediately and share your main goals for the coming months below in the comment section. This is how you build momentum and increase the likelihood of following through with all three steps.

Step #4: Take Action Immediately

Choose one goal, and take immediate action.

I recommend you try this immediately and share your main goals for the coming months below in the comment section. This is how you build momentum and increase the likelihood of following through with all three steps.

Allon

Do you have any questions about how to become more clear about your longer-term goals? Just leave a comment below.

Top Resources

Habit Hacking Foundations

The High Performance Code

Focus Like A World Class Athlete

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