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How to Set Personal Goals That Inspire You to Take Action

By Vic Johnson
Goal Achieving Expert
Updated: June 28, 2008
Remember when you thought you could do and be anything? The innocence of early childhood is perhaps the last time you were unencumbered by perceived limitations and labels. Personal goal setting was simple, and there was no doubt you could achieve anything.

When asked, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" you would have responded with whatever struck your fancy that day, whatever you were "in to." You did not concern yourself with how you would do it, if you could do it, or if you should do it. Your dreams were based on what you wanted, pure and simple. You set personal goals based on wonder and curiosity, not practicality.

The dreams of childhood were big dreams. Travel into space, win a medal at the Olympics, become a rock star. Soon enough the dreams become modified to reflect what is practical and expected of us. This is precisely when most people start having trouble setting personal goals. The dreams are no longer larger than life, so why take steps to achieve them?

Big dreams inspire big action. When you set personal goals, they need to have huge payoffs for you in order for you to take consistent steps to achieving them. You need to feel excited – even giddy – at the prospect of seeing your dream come true.

When you aspire to something that is less than what you really want, procrastination sets in. With a big dream in your sights, procrastination is a lot less likely to occur.
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You may have heard of making a "life list" of places you would like to see, things you would like to try, and dreams you would like to see realized. Instead of making a list of goals based on what you think is attainable or would fit into your life, start your personal goal setting with a life list of the big stuff that really gets you going.

Here again, draw on the feelings of childhood for inspiration as you set personal goals. Remember the annual letter to Santa Claus? Even if you did not celebrate Christmas, you can imagine the wish lists sent to the North Pole were not full of realistic, practical requests. They included the biggest, best gifts a child could think of, because there was always the possibility that Santa would bring you exactly what you wanted.

Dreaming big has the added benefit of inspiring others to come to your aid in your pursuit of the goal. If your personal goal setting is limited, or "small," why would anyone want to help you achieve them? People want to be part of something special. Big goals motivate friends, family, and even complete strangers to help you reach them.

When you set personal goals, go back to those childhood aspirations. Sure, you may not want to be an astronaut anymore, but the old dreams can spark new life goals. Perhaps you would like to go to a grown-up space camp or become an amateur astronomer. Whatever goal you set, make it big. As the ancient emperor Marcus Aurelius said, "Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men's souls."
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