Goal setting

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“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

Goal setting techniques provide you with a long-term vision and motivation over the short-term. Like in business clearly measuring your goals helps you to achieve what you truly want. Aligning my goals has helped me to keep my focus and overcome difficult times. Today I simply want to share with you some of the best techniques that work for me.


Three rules for effective goal setting

1) Block time for reflection

There is nothing more important than a Jour fixe for your goal setting. I have a two-hour slot blocked every last Friday of the month to reflect. Fix a day and do it now.

2) Time span

To find the appropriate goal setting techniques focus on three time intervals: Short-term, mid-term and long-term. The techniques I use and describe in this article will be based on these three time spans.

3) Write your goals down

Research has show that writing down your goals increases the likelihood of achieving them by 45%. The techniques I use for goal settings are no rocket science but all require you to write down your goals.


Goal setting techniques

1. Short-term goal setting | Frequency: 1 day – 1 week

To keep it short, I use to-do list apps like “Wunderlist” and “Remember the Milk” or my personal diary to keep track of daily and weekly goals. I write them down and check them of when they are done. What I can recommend is focusing on ONE thing to boost your productivity. The Chrome plugin Momentum helps you focus on the one task that really needs to be done and provides you with nice backgrounds for your boring empty chrome tabs. So what is the most important thing that has to get done today?

2. Mid-term goal setting | Frequency: 1 month – 1 year

Now it gets interesting. Think about what categories you want to measure and how you define success or a successful life. So, what is most important to you? I defined three categories for myself that I frequently review: me, relationship, career. My personal development is the most important factor for myself, so its up first. In this category I write down what and how I want to develop myself – be it physically, emotionally or mentally. Second, I focus and reflect on the relationships I have with my friends and family. With whom haven’t I been in touch lately? Is there someone I should call or meet? How can I improve my current relationship with them? Last, I focus on my career. What are practical ways to improve my career or turn towards my long-term goals?

Overall, the most important factor is that your mid-term goals are still actionable. Therefore, I write down the goal I have and the first actionable step. This is how it could look like for a typical month.

Me Relationship Career
Get fit – Go to the gym on Tuesday Connect with an old friend – Call Sven Create a blog – write 2 pages for first blog entry
Learn Portuguese – Book an appoint for a language tandem Be more in touch with grandparents – Give a random call next weekend Build stronger network – Connect with 2 people in my industry via E-mail

3) Long-term goal setting | Frequency: 1 year – 10 year

For long-term goal setting I use the same strategy as with mid-term goal setting, but in a different way. Instead of focusing on the next actionable things, I focus on what I wish to accomplish or as Tim Ferriss defines the concept: “Dreamlining”. Therefore, I use three different categories: having, doing, being. Having defines the things you what to posses, doing the thing you wish to experience and being the skills you want to acquire.


  • Great apartment
  • Nice sound system


  • Compete in a dancing competition
  • Travel 3 month through Asia


  • Become a great entrepreneur
  • Become a strong athlete


Fear thinking

One of the last methods for goal setting is called fear thinking. Tim Ferriss explains the technique better in this video than I could describe. Have fun watching the video.