How to Set Goals in Life for Doing Great Things

Move from simple goal setting to tapping the full power of your internal drives
A woman raises her hands in the air on a mountaintop in celebration

Last week, I was looking through old family photos.

I discovered a classic: me at about eight on Christmas, dressed in my new cowboy hat and holster, holding a drum, surrounded by gifts that visiting family members had brought from America.

My father was stationed in Germany at the time.

It might be hard to believe, but it spurred a revelation about how to set goals in life.

Lately, I’ve been reading articles and posts about the essentials of goal setting.

Most cover the basics of the SMART approach. You know … specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound.

It’s not a bad method, but it leaves out a critical first step.

Back to the photo of me and my presents.

What were they?

Well, they included a big set of Lincoln Logs (not my only set over the years) for building, a drum for playing music, a toy horse and the cowboy outfit for imagining myself riding across the land.

There were a few other things, but those were the important ones.

Just like most kids at Christmas, I am sure I had given my parents some clear suggestions that these were things I wanted. Looking back, I realize they told the story of the things I would pursue later on in life.

Music (including drums) became a passion early on and still is today.

My college degree and first career was in construction.

Then I went on to use many of those same concepts to build a team and a company of my own.

Along the way, I set my sites on becoming a competitive rider as one of my activities outside of work, which I was able to do.

My goals in these areas have helped me create a great, fun, exciting life.

Here’s the lesson that I learned when I found that photo, a lesson that all of the methods for goal setting leave out: the best kind of goal setting starts with the inspiration tap line.

If you want to do great things, you have to discover your inspiration tap line. Click To Tweet

You do not have to create goals and passions.

Our goals are not out there in the world waiting to be discovered. They are already alive and well inside you, like a reservoir of fuel.

You don’t need to do research or overthink it or second-guess yourself.

You just need to be honest with yourself about what really moves you.

What do you really care about and what could you get most excited about pursuing?

The sooner you can bring these goals to the surface, the sooner you can start adding some real, deep excitement to your life.

Our Basic Internal Drivers Fuel Our Success

Closeup shot of a swimmer in action

You will accomplish the greatest, most rewarding goals of your life when you pursue the things you have always wanted. And you will be more successful pursuing them.

We are always more successful and happy when we are doing things we really love to do.

Our minds and souls know what we’re best designed for. They send us messages of inspiration, and if we pay attention, we discover our own personal circle of competence.

That thing inside you that’s inspiring and motivating will respond to the outside world and guide you.

When you fight it, you can end up wasting time on a path of mediocrity. When you use it to understand how to set goals in life, you put yourself on a path of happiness, excitement, and greatness.

Your time is limited.

If you want to lead the most rewarding life, focus your energy and efforts within the circle of things that excite you most!

Tap the full power of your internal drives, motivations, and passions.

Turn those into real goals and you’ll discover the kind of energy and excitement you’ve been looking for in your life.

Rediscovering Your Deepest Goals

A dimly lit wrestling ring

Some of us face a real problem when it comes to big goal setting.

Our deepest goals may have been suppressed for so long that we’ve forgotten about them.

For all sorts of reasons, we have ignored or denied them. But they have never disappeared.

If you need help rediscovering or confirming your goals, use these posts or presentations as a starting point.

Achieve Your Life Goals and Ignite Your Passion
Six questions that helps you learn how to set goals in life and connect with your most important goals rather than chasing false ones.

Andre Agassi: The Come Back
A true story of how reconnecting with internal, motiving goals turned a great athlete into a true legend.

7 Myths About Success That Can Hold You Back
We disconnect from our primal goals when we convince ourselves we don’t have what it takes to achieve them. Don’t let these myths dictate your trajectory in life or keep you from what you want most!

In the next two posts, I’ll move beyond how to set goals in life and cover the two essentials of pursuing and achieving your goals.

For now, take the time to examine your goals. Are they your true goals, the ones that can actually drive you to greatness? Are you ignoring the most obvious goals because you don’t believe they’re possible? Do you need to reconnect with the things that have always excited you? If you’re wondering how to set goals in life, maybe it’s time to open the family album.

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  • I love the idea of an Inspirational Tap line. The fact that the goals and ambitions that we’re so eager to pursue might be within ourselves and therefore completely within our control is a very liberating concept!

    I also believe that our childhood is a great barometer of our passions and creative talents. From the wonderful mind of Ken Robinson, I too believe education should be a diagnostic tool to uncover these but too often they’re squandered by classification and standardisation.

    We must reignite our passions and our discover our inspirational tap line – I’m going to go forth and advocate this concept ha!

    • Danielle Wingo

      Thanks for your comment, Sam! I’m so glad you liked the post.

      I too think it’s empowering to know our deepest goals and passions are already alive inside of us.

      Go forth and conquer!