Forget About Goal-Setting in 2018 -- Do This Instead A big part of my success comes from no longer setting goals. At least, not the way most people do.

By Scott Oldford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Have you noticed how people tend to obsess over their goals in December?

They get all excited about next year, and spend December and January talking about their goals, how they will reach them, and the massive impact they will have on their life.

I don't like goals all that much. In fact, I find goals limit us.

Related: 10 Ways to Stay Committed to Your 2018 Career Goals

I didn't always feel this way. Like most people, I used to set a lot of goals. I was ambitious and driven, and I was good at reaching them. I had a lot of success along the way, but it was also my obsession with setting goals that lead me to $750,000 in debt.

So, a few years ago I adopted some new strategies, and everything has changed since. I went from broke to owning two multimillion-dollar businesses within two years. When I compare my life today to how it used to be, it isn't even close.

A big part of this is because I no longer set goals. At least, not like most people.

A few years ago I was at a mastermind where I met Alan Brouwer, founder of He told me about his alternative strategy to traditional goal setting, and he sold me on it within minutes.

You see, most people approach their goals with a one-year outlook, and maybe they have some long-term goals (or a vision) for way down the line. This isn't how Brouwer does it, because he instead encouraged me to think about what I want to achieve during:

  • Years 0-1
  • Years 1-3
  • Years 3-5

He then gave me a stack of Post-It notes and told me to write down everything I wanted to achieve in the coming years. No wrong answer. No specifics or time stamps. Just dump my ambitions from head to paper.

Related: 50 Easy Business and Personal Goals Everyone Should Be Doing This Year

Two things happen when you do this.

I soon stood before a wall of colorful Post-It notes of ideas and intentions. It blew me away, and I felt more focused than ever, because when you do this exercise two things happen:

1. You start to question how long it will take you to achieve what you want.

Your plans for the future laid out in front of you, you're able to see how it can all come together. What began as something you want to achieve by year three is maybe something you can achieve this year, whereas something you thought you wanted this year may actually be a project for further down the line. You question what you're capable of, and you question the time it will take.

2. You begin to realize what it is you truly want in the first place (in business and life).

The whole point of this exercise is to think about what you truly want. Once you do this and it's in front of you as clear as day, you start to acknowledge it, admit how much you want it, and accept that you deserve it. This is where it all changed for me.

Until this point, my goals focused on revenue and profits, or some other measure of growth. But, during this exercise I realized money and growth wasn't all that important. It would help me achieve what I wanted, sure, but a big business and bigger bank account wasn't the end game.

Related: Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail and What You Should Do Instead

There are four buckets of fulfillment.

On its own, this approach to state your intentions over the next five years is powerful. But, you can elevate it to the next level by combining it with fulfillment.

  • What fulfills you?
  • What places you into flow?
  • What makes you happy?

I've found everyone has four buckets that fulfill them. For me, it's freedom, evolution, innovation and creation. If I'm building my business and life around these four buckets, I'm happy, fulfilled and driven. So, each week I look at the various tasks I need to do, and think about which bucket(s) they fit into.

When I first did this, a lot of my tasks didn't fit into any of these buckets. This showed me what I needed to get rid of so I could start living a fulfilling week. Today, almost my entire day fits into at least one of these buckets, elevating how I feel and what I do at all times.

Related: Why Achieving Your Goal Should Not Be the Most Important Thing

Combining intention and fulfillment is an alternative to goal setting.

You don't need to approach your goal setting like everyone else. These two exercises give you everything you need: intention plus fulfillment.

By stating (and admitting to) your intentions for the next five years, you can then create the situations you need to make them happen. When you combine this with your four buckets of fulfillment, you ensure you place your best foot forward at all times.

Combined, these two exercises allow you to live both in the future and in the now.

You know where you're going, not because of a few defined goals or resolutions that hold you back but due to a stack of intentions of who you wish to become. And because you appreciate what fulfills you and makes you happy, you create powerful situations that ensure you accomplish what you set out to do, but not simply for the sake of the "goal" or the money.

Because when you make it about money, you almost always fail eventually. When you make it about what fulfills you, you're willing to go to the end of the world to make it happen.

Related Video: Jump Start Your 2018 With a Personal Action Plan

Scott Oldford

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Mentor, Advisor & Investor for Online Entrepreneurs

Scott Oldford has helped build and scale countless 6, 7 & 8-figure online businesses in the education, certification, coaching, consulting and courses niche.

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