The Goal Triangle Setting and Achieving Ambitious Goals To Become… Unstoppable!


Lame Goals and the Self-Esteem Trap


pic: self esteem trap and goals

Are your goals accomplishing anything, or just feeding your self esteem?

You may have heard at some point in your life that you need to set your goals low so that you build confidence.  The idea is to set your expectations low so that you won't be too disappointed if you fail. With that attitude, it's not "if" but "when" you'll fail...

I call these "lame goals" because you are already cutting yourself off at the knees by setting your sights low.

Of course, you usually don't say to yourself that you are "setting your sights low".  What you say to yourself is that you want to keep your goals "realistic".   Aarrggghhh!  This infuriates me!  That's another reason I say to skip the R (and the S and the A) in SMART goal setting and just focus on the M and the T.

While having some easy goals can help you build momentum, easy goals are really only useful as supporting goals.  By that, I mean there are major goals and minor goals.  Major goals have many supporting goals (minor goals) that are required along the path.  I'll write more about major/minor goals in another article but here's an example:

A major goal could be "To have enough assets by 2015 that my passive income is enough to support all my basic living expenses."  Then many minor "supporting goals" follow, for example "Purchase a small rental property by August 15, 2010 that is immediately cash-flow positive and that requires less than a $20k down payment."  Or, as a really easy one, "Read 3 books on real estate investing by July 1." As I'll write in a few weeks, confusing your minor goals for major goals can cause major problems and limit your success.

Why Easy Goals Backfire

The problem with setting easy goals is that they easily slip into what I call the self-esteem trap – the idea of feeding your self esteem without actually accomplishing anything worth being proud of.

Setting goals that are too low or too easy undermine your true confidence.  On the surface, you feel good because you “accomplished” that (lame) goal.  But subconsciously, your heart and mind know you are just coasting and (again, subconsciously) you start to believe that you are incapable of achieving anything ambitious.

A Real-World Example That Hurts Individuals And Society

One real-world example area I am increasingly alarmed about that fits this description is obesity.

There are a growing number of fat people (pun intended) who are promoting the idea that being fat is ok.  Actually, more than ok.  It’s to be celebrated.

These are almost always people who have tried to lose fat, several times, and have given up.  They believe they simply can’t do it.  It’s just a belief, but they view it as fact.

Having failed at the true goal, they set a new (lame) goal of "well, I guess I'm just built this way, but I probably shouldn't get fatter".  So their new goal:  "Don't get fatter."

Let's say they successfully "don't get fatter".  Well, they accomplished their goal.  Sure, they are 300 pounds with no muscle, but hey - at least they can be proud of accomplishing their goal of not getting fatter!

In an effort to save their self-esteem, they convince themselves that fatness is ok, even good.  But that’s all external show.  Inside, they know they have failed.  And their self-confidence is cut.

Let’s get this straight- it is not ok to be fat.  It’s unhealthy and it’s selfish.  That’s an internal and an external expectation there for those of you keeping track…

But what worries me most is that they have the potential to change society’s view on obesity.  If kids start hearing from an early age that it’s ok to be fat.  And if kids “learn” that, then they’ll grow up without any inner sense that they need to be other than fat.  So it may never occur to them to have a goal related to fitness that is any more challenging that being fit enough to walk from the couch to the fridge.

Ok, let me step off the soap box and wrap up this article...

Set Non-Lame Goals

Why not set ambitious goals?  What are you afraid of?


Asking For Help

Do you try to accomplish your goals on your own?  Sort of a "rugged individualism" mentality that prevents you from asking for help?

If you never ask for help, you will certainly accomplish less in life.  I'm not saying you need to throw your hands up and scream "Help Me!" every time you have a goal or every time you encounter a hurdle.

I starting thinking about this today, because I need your help.  I think it will be easy for you to help me, but I'll wait a few paragraphs to formally ask.

People fail to ask for help in accomplishing their goals for a number of reasons:

  1. Truly don't need help.  Sometimes this is true.  We can do it ourselves.
  2. Pride - asking for help, in some circles, makes you appear weak.
  3. Hope that help will come without asking.
  4. More rewarding to do it yourself.  There are some goals that just plain feel more powerful when completed purely on your own.  Often, this is a false perception, but sometimes it's true.
  5. Fear - this takes many shapes, including the fact that to ask for help, you have to tell people about your goal.  That in itself is sometimes scary.  "What I I fail, after telling everyone?  I'll be ruined!  Ah me!"  But it can also be fear of rejection:  "What if I ask for help and the person says 'no'?"
  6. Arrogance - sometimes we fail to ask for help because we believe we can do it on our own, when in reality we can't.

How To Ask For Help With Your Goals

Asking for help on an important goal is different, in some ways, from a generic plea for assistance.  It's not asking for a favor.  It's asking for substantive contribution towards something really important to you. Here's my checklist for asking for help with a major goal:

  1. Start with "I've set a goal for myself to do ________________.  But I realize that there are parts of this that I can't do alone.  Can I tell you more about this because I would like your help with one area?"
  2. Be specific with how you want them to help.
  3. Don't try to soften it by saying "I understand if you don't want to" or "You don't have to" or anything like that.
  4. If this is a truly important goal, and you sense that the asking for help will be difficult for you, then practice the asking and visualize it turning out the way you want.
  5. Say please.  For example "Could you please email me every Tuesday morning to ask me how my run went?"
  6. Tell them exactly why you chose them and how their small assistance will make a big difference for you.  For example "I know you are very organized, and I respect your opinion a lot, so knowing that you will be emailing me every Tuesday will be a major motivator for me to do my jog before I get that email from you!"
  7. Choose someone you trust.  You need to trust them ethically and trust them from a skill-level, that they can actually perform the help.
  8. Choose someone who will also benefit, in some way, from the process.

So Now I'm Asking You For Help

Let's see if I can follow my own advice...

I've set a goal to get to 1000 registered readers of this site by December 31.  But it's tough going and I can't do it alone.

But you can help.  See, you already must be enjoying this site right?  So you are in a great position to tell others about it.

All I want you to do is email, right now, 5 people who you think might like the site.  Don't send them to this article though - this won't be as valuable to them.   Send them to another article you really like.  And tell them to sign up.

To make this easy, I'll include an example message below.

Getting more active readers will help you too - that means better discussions and more incentive for me to invest more time in quality articles that help you achieve amazing goals.

So can you please tell friends about this site?

Here what you can cut and paste to them:


Hi ________

I've been reading a cool site for goal setting.  It's called The Goal Triangle.  I think you'll especially like this article:

If you like it, you should definitely register on the site - no spam or anything, just good articles once a week.


Please send this, or something like it, to 5 people you know right now!  I thank you in advance!




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Posting Update and Your Questions

Now that we've laid some foundations around goal setting and achievement, I'm taking a pause in posting as I prepare SPECIFIC strategies for the 3 areas of The Goal Triangle:  family, finances, and fitness.

To be sure, I haven't covered ALL the foundations!  There are more basic principles and countless general strategies for setting and achieving amazing things in life.

But I want to get into specifics.

For example:

  • How do you help your kids set goals, in general?
  • How do you help your kids with their academic goals?
  • What does goal setting around marriage look like?
  • "If I'm a team manager at work, and people aren't meeting the goals we agreed to, what do I do?"
  • "Should I invest in gold?"
  • "My sister is fat and isn't doing anything about it.  How can I help?"
  • Etc.

If you have any specific areas like this that YOU would like me to write about, feel free to comment with a suggestion under this post.

If you are brand new to the site, hold tight for a few weeks as I prepare this new content and in the mean time, read all the meaty articles I've already posted.

'Till then, take care and keep working to achieve great things!




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How Are You Spending Your 100 Hours?

pic: What do you spend your 100 hours on?

What do you spend your 100 hours on?

You’ve got 100 hrs a week, once you subtract sleeping, showering, eating.

Bill Gates has 100 hrs.  Barak Obama.  Drew Brees.  Your neighbor down the road who seems ordinary but is actually rich, happy, morally inspiring, with an amazing family…

Everybody has the same 100 hours or so.

What are you spending your 100 hours on?

If you are like most of us, you spend your time about like this (and yes, I’m intentionally taking a cynical tone here so that in a few paragraphs I can shine some glorious light on the problems and make myself seem uber-insightful…):

  • 45 hrs a week “half working”, going through the motions of your job, trying just hard enough to make sure you get a modest raise at your annual review, trying to not make mistakes, and neglecting to set your own goals, instead just doing whatever your supervisor directs you to do
  • 5 hrs in the car, listening to junk
  • 10 hrs a week watching TV, mostly off-color sitcoms or repetitive news, maybe 1 hour of pseudo-educational stuff and rarely anything that truly inspires you to become more than you are now
  • 5 hours cruising the web, doing God-knows-what but rarely anything of real purpose
  • Anywhere from 2 to 10 hrs hanging with friends, doing the same old things you always do
  • Between 2 and 5 hrs doing household chores, and often doing them the same way you always have – inefficiently and incompletely
  • 2 to 5 hours with your spouse complaining about your jobs, your kids, or your neighbors
  • 2 hrs making a lame attempt at exercise, most of which is either spent doing ineffective cardio or talking to buddies in the gym, without any intelligent goals in mind
  • 5 hours of unfocused time with your kids, where you aren’t really doing anything of purpose, and spend half of the time thinking about something else
  • 5 to 10 hours that are simply “lost” – you honestly have no idea where they went; it’s just that when you add up your hours, you are less than 100 and you are clueless how you are losing that much time every week

So What Are Better Uses Of Your 100 Hours?

Obviously I’m going to say that it all starts with your goals:  What are you trying to accomplish?

Part of The Goal Triangle philosophy is that there are 3 major areas of your life:

  • Family (including friends and greater community)
  • Fitness (physical, mental, spiritual – “fun” is included here too)
  • Finances (including career)

If you haven’t written down your most important goals in each of these areas, stop reading right now.  This article is useless if you have no goals.

Once you do have the right goals (read the other articles on this site for advice and tips on how to do so), then there’s an overly simplistic answer to the question “What should I spend my 100 hrs on?”

The answer:  on doing what it takes to accomplish your goals!

It can’t be that simple can it?  Actually it is.  But it’s not easy.  It only becomes easy after you have practiced it repeatedly.  A regular review of your goals – daily, and even multiple times per day – will allow you to almost effortlessly start using your time more wisely.

So let’s revisit that list of what “most people” do with their 100 hrs.  Except this time, I’m going to write it from the perspective of someone who has clear goals in multiple areas of their life.

The Goal-Oriented Way Of Spending Your 100 Hours

  • 45 hrs a week working all the time you are at work, focusing on the things you want to accomplish to further your career and advance your income dramatically; not spending time at the water-cooler and not spending time on “busy work”; willing to take some risks because you know that accomplishing great things requires some risk; working with your supervisor to tie together your own goals, with her goals, and the goals of your organization
  • 5 hrs in the car, listening to audio recordings that support your goals (for example, if you are a sales woman, there are countless recordings on how to improve sales; if you are a parent, you can find CDs at the library on parenting; if you have a goal centered around minimizing your angry outbursts, there are recordings for that too)
  • 10 hrs a week reading books that help you learn things to accomplish your goals; if you watch any TV, it is uplifting positive shows; and you limit your news watching to just the headlines and only watch more when a truly important event is taking place
  • 5 hours using the web not as “entertainment” but as a research tool to help you grow, learning more about fitness, finances, or family-oriented topics
  • Anywhere from 2 to 10 hrs hanging with friends, but doing things that are both fun and growth-oriented; finding ways to inspire and challenge each other to be more
  • Minimal time doing household chores because you do them so well and completely that they don’t need to be done as often; also incorporate a schedule that allows them to be done more efficiently (like batching them, or like doing them immediately when needed)
  • 2 to 5 hours with your spouse brainstorming ways you can excel at your jobs, talking about your goals for your kids and the successes of your kids, or ways you can establish friendships with neighbors who are going to be fun and inspiring
  • 2 hrs of focused exercise using established principles to accomplish whatever your specific fitness goals are; when you are working out, you are working out according to your plan and you don’t get distracted into socializing or slacking off
  • 5 hours of time with your kids where you are focused exclusively on them, playing and talking about what is important to them (and helping them to think about the bigger picture of what they want their life to be like and setting goals around those)
  • 5 to 10 hours that are available for other important goals that you’ve defined

So I ask again, what are you spending your 100 hours on?