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Setting Goals That ROCK!

If I ask ten people if they have personal goals, chances are, all ten will say “yes.” If I ask if I can see them—well, that’s a different story; “I mean, I have goals, I don’t have them written down or anything, but I have goals.” I’m sorry, but that sounds more like a strategy of hope than an actual plan. It seems most of us believe setting personal goals is a good idea, but the focus and process mechanics aren’t there to unlock the true potential.

Imagine you received a cool archery set as a gift (I don’t know why you got a bow and arrow, just stay with me, please). Your friend takes you to the countryside to practice. He walks out over a hill and places the target out of your line of sight. There you stand, looking at the horizon, shooting arrows toward a target you can’t see. And because it’s not visible, you don’t know what kind of adjustments to make to increase your odds of hitting it. This spray-and-pray strategy does not yield great results, and it wastes a lot of time. So, let’s reach in the gig-bag and grab the inspiration, perspectives, and tools we need to create Goals That Rock.

Four Elements of Goal Setting

Most of the resource material on goals focuses on setting what are known as SMART goals. You know—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These are great guidelines when we are scrutinizing the qualitative and quantitative elements of specific objectives. My perspective is that these are essentially SMART Tactics. Semantics? No, it’s much more than that. There is a larger context to consider when you are setting truly effective goals.

High performing businesses operate in a continuous cycle of planning, executing, evaluating and resetting goals. We can leverage the same process for our goals. In this perspective, we have our big picture Vision which is realized through the successful execution of our Mission. These two elements represent our Long-Term Objectives.

The Mission is supported by a Strategy, or how we plan to accomplish it. These strategies represent our Mid-Term Objectives. Our strategic intent is further synthesized to a set of Short-Term Tactics, or what we are doing on a daily basis to fulfill the strategy, complete our mission, and see our utopian vision realized. Let’s unpack each of the four elements and consider the roles they play in creating and achieving Goals That Rock.

Vision Statement

This is what you see when you close your eyes and picture the future. What does it look like, and how does it make you feel? Your personal vision statement must Inspire and guide, be crystal clear, succinct, and memorable. It is your mantra of purpose, and a compass point to keep you on course. Vision statements can stand unchanged for years as supporting strategies and tactical approaches change.

Here are a few popular examples from the business world: Tesla - To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Amazon - To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online. Walmart - To help people save money so they can live better.

It can be confusing because you will often see Vision and Mission blended into one statement, as well as independent, aligned elements. For our purpose, I would like you to try to look to the future and answer the bigger question—why?! Why are you getting out of bed every day, and what’s the end game look like? I had a charismatic co-worker who once shared his vision with me, he said “McDonald, I want to create a lifestyle that doesn’t require my presence.” I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but I am absolutely confident he did.

Here are two popular examples of personal vision statements from people you may recognize:

Sir Richard Branson - “To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.”

Oprah Winfrey - “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”

It might be a legacy of encouragement that you aspire to; “To be positive, thoughtful, an inspiration to everyone I meet.” Your vision may be to create opportunity and adventure for your family; “To enjoy a life of abundance and captivating choices.” Whatever it is, let’s get it on the table so we can align to it, and make it happen.

You don’t have to be famous to have a Vision Statement, but isn’t it interesting that many high-profile, successful, innovative people do? For some of us, it can be the piece that’s missing. When we can’t clearly say where we are going and why, we get lost. It’s that bigger existential question we all need to answer to be successful, fulfilled, and happy. For this reason, Vision sits at the top of the pyramid.

Mission Statement

This is how you are going to accomplish your Vision. Let’s use an example from above and follow it through the entire GTR process.

Vision Example: To enjoy a life of abundance and captivating choices. That’s pretty clear, so how can we get there? That of course depends on your unique gifts and passions. We each have a measure of time, treasure, and talent to apply. What vehicle(s) is going to deliver your vision of a rich field of opportunity for your family? It may be as simple as being great at what you are already doing. Nonetheless, it has to be formalized, scripted, and written down. In the same fashion as your vision statement, it should be as short and succinct as possible.

Mission Example: “To define and execute a financial model that generates legacy wealth.” This Mission nests nicely under our Vision of abundance. It expresses how we will make our Vision a reality. Ok, what’s the plan? That’s the next step.


Strategic intent defines our approach to fulfilling the Mission Statement. This is typically limited to around five key initiatives. Any more than that and we tend to lose focus, and one or more will end up being underserved. Five key strategies are a handful for most businesses or individuals. That said, many organizations still make the mistake of pursuing too many simultaneously. Let’s define strategies that we might consider in support of our vision/mission.

Vision - To enjoy a life of abundance and captivating choices.

Mission - To define and execute a financial model that generates legacy wealth for my family.

Strategies -

  1. Leverage Passive Income

  2. Increase Earnings

  3. Reduce Overhead

  4. Eliminate Debt

  5. Collaborate To Grow


Tactics are the day-to-day, week-to-week deliverables that fuel the successful execution of the Strategy. Each tactical element has a set of Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, attached. They help us track our progress, and ensure things don’t fall through the cracks. This is where it gets wide. Each of these five strategies has a host of KPIs to fulfill, track and manage. You can see where it can easily become too much to do effectively.

One of the biggest tactical mistakes you can make is taking on more than you can do with excellence.

Tactics must be broken down to a level that defines expectations on a daily basis. Tactics are a daily march, one foot in front of the other, each step bringing us closer to our objective. This is important when we are trying to get traction. Taking that first step is often the issue. If it’s overwhelming we will rationalize, circle and procrastinate. Let’s explore what our tactical approach might look like.

Tactics - Leveraging Passive Income

Phase #1 - Investigate Passive Income Streams

  1. Online Research

  2. Books and Blogs

  3. Seminars and Lectures

  4. Video Courses

  5. Interviews

2. Phase #2 - Selecting Passive Income Streams

  1. Define Barriers To Entry

  2. Evaluate Strengths And Opportunities

  3. Risks Assessment

  4. Selection

Each of these nine tactics has a slew of micro-deliverables, or goals attached to them. Each of them needs to be formalized, scheduled, tracked, and completed. If you are trying to do this in your head—well you know what happens, despite your best intentions, it’s not going to go smoothly.

High performing individuals understand the importance of breaking their goals down to small, manageable pieces, with meaningful KPIs. We can put the same rigor, focus, and discipline into achieving our life Vision. To ensure we get the details right, and nail the tactical plan, let’s look at what it takes to set Goals That ROCK!

R - RELEVANT The goals that support your tactical intent need to be relevant to the plan! They need to align and support the strategy that is in play. This is the filter, or lens we use to evaluate whether we should be spending time on something, and if so, where it fits in our list of priorities. This is critical for a few reasons: we tend to work on things we like to do, versus what needs to be done, and distraction can lead us away from the true mission.

To guarantee your goals are Relevant and rock-steady, apply my Domino Test. The Domino Test simply asks “How many tiles have to fall before I realize the desired outcome?” Said another way, how many additional conditions have to be met, to realize the desired outcome? The higher the number, the less “sure” the result. Don’t abdicate your success to others, don’t put too many dominoes between you and your goal.

O - OBTAINABLE We need to be able to secure the intended outcome of our goals. There are subtle nuances between the words attain, and obtain. The former speaks to achievement, and the latter to procuring or securing. I like the perspective of Obtainable goals because it nods to the spoils of achievement. Semantics aside, if you can’t get it done, don’t set it as a goal. Realistic expectations of time, costs, capabilities, and complexity need to be considered.

Hey, don’t give up so easily! Collaboration may be the key to increasing the feasibility of the goals that seem a little out of reach. Since it appears as the fifth element in our Strategy Model, we always want to consider its potential influence.

C - COMPUTABLE - Our goals have to be tracked, evaluated, and measured along the path to completion. This is why goals like; endeavor to do better—don’t Rock. If your progress can’t be computed, defined as KPIs, and tracked, you are flying blind. This filter answers the questions; how much, what quality, by when. This is accountability central. If your goals don’t stand up here, don’t waste your time, change the metric.

K - KNOWN - Your Vision, Mission, Strategy, and Tactics can’t be a secret, or committed to memory. They have to be formalized and publish in a way that serves as a constant reminder. Take the time to prepare a formal document, laminate it and carry it in your attache, purse, wallet, man-bag, whatever. Review your Vision and Mission as part of your morning affirmations. Schedule time to review your tactical progress, check completed boxes, and illuminate open items that need focus. Keep it front of mind!

Vision Boards are a great way to bring inspiration and form to your plan. It’s simply a poster-board with images and phrases that bring your vision to life. Put it on the wall in your home office, or on a closet door where it can be a constant, positive reminder.

The dominant imagery should be focused on the feelings you anticipate having when you reach your vision—bliss, security, comfort, romance, pride, whatever animates your vision. And of course, you can include a few symbols that represent the stuff you want around you. This is also a great way to bring the whole family into the process.

Completed G.T.R. Model (Example)

Vision - To enjoy a life of abundance and captivating choices.

Mission - To define and execute a financial model that generates legacy wealth for my family.


  1. Leverage Passive Income


  1. Phase #1 - Investigate Passive Income Streams.

  2. Online Research

Tactical Goal 1.1- Perform comprehensive online research to identify, investigate and summarize, Ten (10) sources of Passive Income by 5:00pm, February 2, 2020.

If It Was Easy—

Everybody would be doing it! It takes drive, commitment, and a plan. The mechanics are incredibly effective, but you have to work them. I know this feels like a rigorous process of mapping of baby-steps—because it is! If you are serious about achieving your Vision, you have to understand what you need to accomplish today. You have to set Goals That ROCK and stay on top of them.

Depending on your Personality Design and preferences, you may find it challenging to sit down and draft a detailed, tactical plan of attack, but that is exactly what it takes! Consider collaboration as a potential solution. Some of us will fall in love with the planning, and neglect to get the work done. Again, having another like-minded person to jam with, to draw energy from when you are feeling the grind, can be just what it takes to keep you rock-steady in the groove.

Don’t be intimidated, it’s just a new riff, you’ll get better with practice.

Well, there you have it! I hope this has inspired you to create Goals That ROCK. There is a path that leads to greater measures of success, fulfillment, happiness, and joy. I want to invite you to join me on the journey, and let’s continue the conversation!


Rich McDonald

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