Setting Goals to Give You the Life You Want

We're taught to choose a goal and figure out how to get there. But that may not always be the best way. Get-It-Done Guy shows why it makes sense to do it the other way around.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #316

Whenever people meet me, they say, “You’re the Get-It-Done Guy, so you must be amazing at setting goals!” Actually, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with goals for many years. Goals have helped me achieve things, but at the price of too much stress and worry..

Furthermore, we all believe life will be better by reaching our goals. So we set goals, make plans, put our nose to the grindstone, and work our butts off.

And we achieve! But many high achievers I’ve coached over the years reach their goals, but miss their lives. And not in the obvious, trite “I’m-working-too-hard-to-have-friends” kind of way.

No, they reach their goals and discover they were the wrong goals and the wrong path to get there. No one taught them how to set goals that would give them the life and the career they wanted.

See also: Align Your Life to Reach Big Goals


If you’ve listened to my Living an Extraordinary Life presentation at SteverRobbins.com/lel, you know I question whether it even makes sense to set life goals.

I do. But not for the reason you think. Goals are useful. Many people really do find goals motivational. If you’re one of those people, set goals, go wild. But do it in a way that will get you the life you actually want.

Stop Setting Goals for the Wrong Reason

The first step to setting goals that will bring you an awesome life is to stop setting goals that will bring you a sucky life.

Most goals are about a destination. “I want a million dollars.” “I want enlightenment.” “I want a truck.” If you tend to set your goals based on the destination, and don’t consider the journey, try switching it around.

Understand the Life You Want to Lead

Instead of setting life goals, think about setting a life direction. Figure out the things that would create a fun, meaningful, compelling journey.

Goals are really just a way to make sure we take a meaningful journey.

Ask yourself:

  • How do I want to spend my time?
  • What daily activities make me want to leap out of bed?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • Who do I want to hang out with? Talk with? Collaborate with?

Now set your goal. Choose one that will create the journey you just designed. Choose one that you are willing to commit to, fully.

The specific goal you set is almost arbitrary – it’s simply setting a direction so the pursuit itself gives you the life that you want. With the right journey, it won’t even matter if you reach your goal.

For example........


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.