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Are You Actually Setting Goals? Probably Not. Here's How in 3 Steps. If you want to see the magic of achieving your big vision, you'll need to devote time to mastering the creation of goals.

By Matthew Toren

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You need to have a big vision to know where you're going, but knowing the end goal is only the start. How do you get there? Goal setting is a timeless art that every entrepreneur needs to achieve success.

However, if you're like most people, the art of goal setting is usually little more than a few calendar reminders and some notes on a post-it to follow up on. While that's a great way to remember tasks on the go, it's no way to approach true goal setting. If you want to see the magic of achieving your big vision, you'll need to devote some time to mastering the keys aspects of creating powerful goals.

Related: Simplifying Work-Life Balance With These 4 Steps

Here is a three-step process that can really help you unlock the true power of goals:

1. Define how and when. In his book, The Success Principles, Jack Canfield describes this important first step by explaining you should learn the difference between what is a goal vs. what is a good idea. Let's say you need a marketing plan done for a new product launch. You may start your goal setting process by writing down "Write marketing plan."

Canfield explains however that a goal set down in that manner isn't really a goal at all -- it's a good idea. It would be a good idea to write a marketing plan, but how does that translate into an actual goal? Easy! Powerful goals include the description of how and when. Like an incomplete sentence, the "good idea" doesn't have enough information to stand alone as a goal. What makes a true goal is adding a time measurement and how-to steps so it can stand alone as an actionable item.

Written as a goal, that same good idea might look more like: "Complete first three to five page written draft of product marketing plan by Friday by scheduling 30 minutes daily to work on it."

Make sure your goals include the how and when so they can stand on their own as more than just "good ideas."

2. Break it down. You've expanded your good idea into an actual goal, now how do you make it happen? The actions that go into a goal are easiest to do if they're broken down into steps. You've got your big vision, then you've written out the list of complete goals required to achieve that vision, the second step is to further break those goals down into actions or steps. This is where you should get into the details. Taking our marketing plan example, here's how this might look:

Related: How the 'Seinfeld Strategy' Can Help You Stop Procrastinating

"Complete first three to five page written draft of product marketing plan by Friday by scheduling 30 minutes daily to work on it."

  • Create a product summary
  • Write the marketing objective for the product
  • Define the marketing budget
  • Complete the target market research and include in a summary
  • Detail TV and other traditional advertising methods
  • Outline social media outreach

By breaking your larger goal into parts, you have action steps you can take toward the accomplishment of your objective. To make this step even more effective, attach dates and deadlines to each step to keep you on track.

3. Review frequently. The final step for powerful goals is to actually review what you've taken the time to create. You should be reviewing your goals with your team frequently. For the big goals, once a month might be adequate. For your smaller broken down tasks, make sure this review is happening daily. Mapping out deadlines on a calendar is a great way to keep yourself on track, as is creating a to-do list that you update and mark-off as you go.

By consistently reviewing the goals, you keep them fresh, yourself motivated and ensure you aren't overlooking steps or deadlines as they quickly approach. Setting goals with the right time and effort will unlock the power of big achievements.

Related: A Structured Day Can Keep Wasted Time at Bay

Matthew Toren

Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.

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