goal setting

The Ultimate Guide to Setting Life-Changing Goals

There’s a pull that I can’t shake. I’m sitting at my dinner table writing while Teddy lounges at the base of the bay window that’s only a few feet from me and looks out onto my porch and then onto the cul-de-sac that I’m near the entrance of.

I’m in a house that I love, doing work that I’m passionate about, and yet this tug and lack of satisfaction compounds everyday. I want to be elsewhere doing more important things. I want to be in new places that scare me a little. I want to be hiking, hunting, camping, shooting, exploring, but I, like many of you, have shit that needs to get done and the more I work the more work seems to come into my life. (Read This: Adventure is Air for The Soul)

I love it. It’s a necessity and without work I’d have little meaning in my life. This pull has a few parts.

  1. There’s the distaste for mediocrity, for what “life” has become and what’s expected of me – of us.
  2. There’s the lack of satisfaction for what I’m creating, my work, and who I am. I’m not being enough, let alone doing enough.
  3. There’s the pull toward something, and it’s something I’ve experienced while I was in Italy and Argentina and Uruguay. It’s exploration that doesn’t need to occur halfway around the world or near its bottom, but it’s exploration that brings you to the present and allows you to appreciate it.

This gnawing on my soul is so strong that at times it makes me useless. I’m so preoccupied with what’s out there that I’m neglectful of what’s here.

I don’t think this attraction to the audacious and unknown is a bad thing at all. Most people have this even if they’re not fully aware of it.

Steven Pressfield has one of the best descriptions of ambition I’ve ever read when he writes:

Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundamental of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.”

Ambition is our soul telling us what will bring us meaning and purpose and value and true happiness in life, it’s something we cannot ignore. Ambition, however, or the realizing of our ambitions require far more from us than whatever it is we’re currently doing and more importantly, whoever we are in this moment.

Who we are right now is the reason for what we have – whether that’s good or bad. That’s to say, the man I am right now has led to this powerful thirst for more because he’s only produced a fraction of what my soul wants for sustenance.

As I am right now, writing on my desk that’s in my house that’s in a wonderful neighborhood, has given me what I have right now and what I can do right now. But what I have and what I’m doing on a daily basis is not nearly enough. So it’s the man, me, who must improve if I’m going to provide my soul with the nourishment that will bring me a feeling of excellence, of accomplishment, a feeling that I’m doing what I was put here to do as the man I was destined to become. (Read This: Become The Man You’re Obsessed With Being)

Life changing goals start with a vision.

The vision is ‘your unique calling’. It’s that voice that may be but a whisper that tells you to travel or to start a business or to write a book. You may push it down because it sounds unrealistic. You may even crush it because to follow it would mean turning your life, everything you’ve done to this point, upside down. But in stomping it and tempering it and killing it you’re also imprisoning the single thing that will make you feel alive, and there are few of us in this world that truly feel alive.

They then depend on the person.

The second step to real life-changing goals is figuring out who you must become to accomplish them. I immediately think of Adam Brown, the Navy SEAL who went from drug addict to husband and father of two who was also one of the world’s most elite warriors. (Read This: 9 Lessons I Learned From True American Hero, Adam Brown)

It’s an easy example because the elite warrior could not also be the drug addict. The father could not also be strung out on drugs, heroin to be exact. And if a man can go from being completely addicted to heroin to becoming a member of SEAL Team 6, then there’s no valid reason why a fella who runs a web site can’t write best-selling books or embark on adventures worth writing about. There’s no reason why a plumber can’t start his own business that finally leads to financial freedom or a school teacher can’t start selling things online, working from anywhere she damn well pleases.

The dream that’s dependent on the man, however, must be won in habits.

You are your habits. We know this. I know this. It’s my habits that don’t allow me to become the man that my most audacious ambitions require.

Let’s set the goal-setting aside for a minute and think about those dreams.

Why Aim for Average?

So we have this thing called a life. We’re given a canvas on which we can paint whatever we like, which is this world. And almost every one of us chooses – and yes it is a choice – to aspire for things that do nothing for us.

Rather than writing down the thing or things that gnaw at our very being we push them down and suppress them, only allowing them to breathe when we lay our heads down at night and dream.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” ~ T.E. Lawrence

It sounds so foolish when you write it down. We have two choices, follow our ambitions or follow the mindless path that our society has set up for us and most of us choose to follow the path already laid out, and it makes sense.

The path already laid out requires little risk and less effort. We can be lazy and scared, we can lack discipline and persistence and still “win” at this path. We can buy the things we don’t need to impress people whom we should not aim to impress. We can rise in this path with some ease if we so choose.

However, while this path requires less risk and effort and persistence, it’s also asterisked with a guarantee that we will not feel fulfilled, happy, as though we’re living a purposeful life. We will not feel alive.

Thus, the choice to run from your ambitions and toward the monotony and emptiness of a life lived to garner the compliments and envy of others is incredibly stupid. It guarantees a life that’s never truly lived. It puts you from the womb immediately into purgatory where you wait out an entire lifetime to die and hopefully enter heaven.

Let that resonate. There is no wrong time to start living. There is no “too late” to hunt down your ambitions like you were Theodore Roosevelt in the African Savanna. Death is the constant. You will be dead and all that you will have done will have come and gone so why in God’s name would you not do what your soul begs and pleads with you to do?

And so, that pull must not be fought but fed.

Taking Action on Life

And so I get to writing…

I write down a couple things.

  1. I write down things I can do during the week – things I must do habitually during the week – that will feed my soul.

Things like shooting the rifle, the shotgun, or the bow and arrow. Hiking. Camping. Taking Teddy out to different areas outside of town at the foot of the Rockies.

  1. I write down things that I have to habitually work on.

1,000 words a day on the book – no days off. Aspects of the business that need improvement to get it to where I want it to be and what I want it to be doing.

  1. I write down the big goals and dreams and trips.

They’re dependent on habits, but if you don’t write them down you’ll have no clue what kind of habits you need to develop.

From there I work on the daily routine, which is the most important aspect of this plan, this map to life.

The habits that you need to be the man that you’re required to be if you’re to reach your goals have to be daily. You can’t take days off. Start small, then add more.

This part is on you, figuring out what you need to do to become who you need to become. After that it’s just a matter of being that guy every damn day and seizing opportunities as they present themselves.

Final Notes

If you have the goal of traveling, book the trip now then force yourself to earn it. I booked Italy for 3 months on credit, and forced myself to be financially secure by the time the trip embarked, which was 3 months later.

If you have the goal of building a business, start now, start something now. You don’t have to quit your job. When I first started this business I kept my training business for a good two years. I woke up very early and stayed up late to work on this thing. I finally needed to quit my main source of income to remove the safety net that would allow me to work on this business. (Read This: How to Get Shit Done)

A few habits that I have in my day that will help me become the man I need to become to live the life I’m being called to live:

  1. Read 37 pages a day.
  2. Wake up early everyday (even weekends). My time is 4:30am. Your time may be different. I can’t see how life can be won if you’re not winning your mornings though.
  3. Train everyday, even when I don’t want to. It should read, especially when I don’t want to. This can include running or hill sprints if I’m not lifting, but something that brings pain and something that I have to force myself to do must occur daily or life’s just too easy to get tough enough to become the man I need to become.

What habits have you incorporated recently?

What’s your big dream?

About The Author

Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live. He’ll give you the kick in the ass needed to help you live a big, ambitious life.
You can contact him at –
http://www.ChadHowseFitness.com/
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