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The Simple Dollar

Book review: Goals!

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest.

By Guest blogger / January 16, 2011

Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster than You Ever Thought Possible, by Brian Tracy, August 2010, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 296pp .

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


I thought I’d take a look at one of the best books out there about defining and setting goals, since so many people start out the year with goals and resolutions of all kinds (and I’m no exception to that).

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Goals! is one of a pile of self-motivation and self-improvement books written by Brian Tracy. I’ve read several of them, but the only one that really clicked with me was this one because it offered so many good pieces of advice about setting personal goals and working towards them. It worked for me because so much of the advice was actionable – I could actually do the things in the book and apply them immediately to my own goal-setting habits.

As with most of my book reviews, the things I share with you below just scratch the surface of the content. Instead, I usually try to seek out a key highlight or two from each chapter that really had an impact on me.

1. Get Started: Unlock Your Potential
Everything you have accomplished in your life up to this point is mere preparation for what is to come. You now have a pile of skills, experiences, and motivations to draw upon that you’ve accumulated throughout your life, and you should use those as constant fuel for the fire to move towards whatever you want in life. Think of the biggest things you’ve accomplished in life. Are the things you want in the future really that out of reach compared to what you’ve already done, especially considering all of the things you have at your disposal now as compared to then?

2. Take Charge of Your Life
You are responsible for everything you do in your life. You make the choices of how to spend your time, how to spend your money, how to spend your energy, and what you spend your time thinking about. Those things are up to you. Don’t blame others or make excuses when you make choices related to how you spend your time, money, energy, and thoughts. Instead, focus on using your thoughts, money, energy, and time to achieve the goals you have in your life. When you spend an hour idling, you’re not just losing an hour of time. You’re losing an hour of energy. An hour of thought. An hour of forward progress on the things you really want.

3. Clarify Your Values
What do you really believe in? What do you truly care about? If you’re trying to work towards goals that aren’t fed by those beliefs and cares, you’re going to have a very hard road with regards to achieving them. Spend some time clarifying what you care about and believe in before you even begin to set goals for yourself.

4. Analyze Your Beliefs
What do you believe with regards to your own abilities? What do you believe about the world around you? Is it holding you back or is it a giant pile of opportunities? It is these beliefs that will drastically constrain – or leave wide open – the goals that are available to you. Most of what’s possible is defined within your own head.

5. Create Your Own Future
Imagine that you could progress towards the goals you have in life with no obstacles preventing you from doing so and you had all of the resources you needed. What would your life look like? I often call this a “five year sketch,” in which I draw a picture of what I would like my life to look like in five years or so.

6. Determine Your True Goals
What do you want to accomplish in every major part of your life? Your finances? Your professional life? Your relationships and family life? Your health and wellness? What about other areas of importance to you? Think about each one and figure out what you most want in that area. This builds upon a foundation of your beliefs.