You won’t achieve ‘impossible’ things without structured goal setting

Topic: how to get what you want

Discussion: very few people actually do have real thought-through goals

Conclusion: brainstorm many, many goals, identify your top ten, write one page per top goal on why you want that

You absolutely must write down your goals

-to find out which they are


If you want to reach your goals, try this:

  1. Identify your goals
  2. Write down why you want to reach them
  3. (then figure out how, by breaking down the why:s to small, tangible how:s)

I recently listened to an episode (#131) of one of my favorite podcasts, Framgångspodden, in which the guest, Mikael Arndt, talked about goals, why they are important, how you can find out which are the most important ones to you and how to maximize the likelihood of reaching them. He also underlined the importance of updating your goals about once a year to avoid wasting time on outdated ones your younger, ignorant self thought were cool.

Here I wrote about the dangers of setting and keeping goals.

Mikael Arndt turned out to be quite the philosopher, not the used cars salesman archetype I was half-expecting. Among other things he stressed the value of regularly going over your goals and your why:s, e.g. like this:

  1. Write down your goals. Take a physical pen and paper and write down 100 things (or 50, or 200; “many”) you want, want to do, want to achieve — no matter if they are implausible, unlikely or down right impossible. This is not the time for why or how, just what. If you find this hard, take your time, one goal after the other. You’ll get faster with practice. Remember the Red Queen who could believe six impossible things before breakfast.
  2. Categorize your goals as A, B or C. A: top-1 priorities that provide the meaning of life, the reason for getting up in the morning (somewhere to sleep, children, time and money to travel?), B: Nice to have goals (a sports car? fancy clothes), C: less important, could probably do without altogether, such as “an ice cream”, “a web page”. You still mustn’t bother with why or how to reach your goals.
  3. Write a why page for each top priority “A” goal on why you want that. If you can’t write a page on why, maybe you don’t really want it (if you ask me, sometimes a shorter why is better, but you get the point). The more you write the easier it gets to weed out goals that are due herd behavior, group think, and societal peer pressure than your own true-to-self innate goals.
    1. Maybe you want a sports car. Why? I want to drive fast, I want others to know I’ve made it, I like looking at it.
    2. Why do you want to drive fast, why do you want others to know, why do you like looking at it?
    3. I get a nice sensation in my stomach from acceleration and dangerous speeds, cooler and more interesting people will want to hang out with me, looking at it makes me think of what I’ve achieved and what other things I may succeed in doing.
    4. And on and on.
    5. Some goals will become less and less poignant with each explanation, others increasingly enticing.

Most people don’t do anything near this. Mikael said 97% don’t, but the 3% that do are several orders of magnitude more likely to reach their goals. Why not become one of the 3%? It doesn’t really cost anything more than a few hours of using and training your imagination.

Once you have your list of goals it’s time to break them do into tangible steps to get there. But the most important work is already done. Once you’ve got your target, purpose and why’s you have laid the foundation for inspiration, motivation, perseverance and grit — and that’s what get things done in the long run, not somebody else’s idea of success, orders or to-do lists.

Check out Framgångspodden if you understand Swedish, or if you hadn’t already go back and read my post about why not to set big, long-term goals that you stick to through thick and thin without questioning.

And why not check out today’s interview with me in Börsvärlden?

P.S. If you don’t scrutinize, specify, adapt and update your goals you often tend to target what everybody else is, which exposes you to the Red Queen Effect of running just to stand still.



  1. The “why” page is by far the most important thing here. Most people, especially young people, if you ask them their goals, will cite things they admire or envy, or at that they think will relieve them of difficulties. They want to be a rock star, or a pro athlete, or a billionaire because they like rock music, or watch sports, or can’t control their spending.

    They fail at such “goals” not only because they lack the innate talent, but because they don’t really try, and they don’t really try because they don’t really want them as such.

    If you take a cold hard look at why you want X, and why you want the reason for X, and the reason for that, and so on, you will inevitably a learn a great deal. Some of it may not be pleasant, because all of our basic motives are base.

  2. As an ambtitious young man, who turns 25 tomorrow, and is also enthusiastic on personal development, I honestly cannot express how excited I am to have found this website. I don’t know how I got here but I’m certainly not complaining.

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