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The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself When Setting Goals This Year

By Amber Parker·· 5 min read
The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself

Every year, millions of people set New Year's resolutions, only to fail a few weeks in. Why? People fail at their goals because they set them blindly.

It's important to celebrate your victories and see any failures and disappointments as opportunities to learn and grow. If you're not where you wanted to be, or if you didn't achieve what you set out to, there's most likely an underlying reason – a simple question that maybe you haven't asked yourself.

What Is Your "Why?"

Don't be fooled. This question shapes everything.

Goals and “Ogres are like onions.”

In the movie Shrek, Shrek famously informs Donkey that like onions, Ogres have layers. Goals are like ogres and onions – they have layers. Just as Shrek explained about ogres, there's much more to goals than people think.

Every year, millions of people set New Year's resolutions, only to fail a few weeks in. Why? People fail at their goals because they set them blindly. Tony Robbins said, "Purpose is stronger than outcome.” Meaning what you do isn’t nearly as important as why you do it. By setting a goal, you're acknowledging that where you are isn’t where you want to be.

Purpose is stronger than outcome.

When we set goals, it's important to keep in mind, "What will this goal make of me as a person?" For example, if you have a goal to make $1 million this year, while that’s a terrific goal, what purpose does the $1 million serve?

What you do isn’t nearly as important as why you do it.

If their purpose is to buy you things, a million dollars can only go so far. A much richer purpose, however, is that earning that kind of money would allow you to buy yourself the time to do what you love, with the people you love – that excites ambition to follow through.

If without the million dollars, you can’t buy things, there are only minor consequences; you can live without more stuff. Adversely, if without the million dollars you can’t buy yourself the freedom you so desperately want, the result is a massive disappointment. Dissatisfaction is power because most people won’t change until they feel pressure to.

Pressure Prompts Action

The skill is in learning to manage pressure and to use it to your advantage. What are you dissatisfied with in your life? What just isn’t good enough for you anymore? Setting goals around these answers are much more powerful than limiting yourself to trivial wants and could-haves.

We must have BIG enough whys. Don’t think, what will happen if I get a million dollars? Think, what will happen if I don’t? What price am I willing to pay not to achieve my goal?

Goals are like onions, they have layers. The outer layer is the WHAT – what will be the result if I achieve this goal? The next layer is the HOW – how will I achieve this goal? The core is WHY – why do I want to achieve this goal? Remember, the purpose is stronger than the outcome.

If we focus on why we are working to earn something, the how to earn it will come.

Tony Robbins also said, “Reasons come first, answers come second.” If we focus on why we are working to earn something, the how to earn it will come. Tony explains that all the excuses we use for why we fail are meaningless. We say things like, “We failed because we didn’t have enough time, we didn’t have enough money, we didn’t have any accountability…” These missing components are only resources, and we don’t fail from a lack of resources.

Tony Robbins says, “We fail from a lack of resourcefulness.”

Accountability and routines are pivotal for our success.

Again, we must have big enough whys. If we aren't committed enough, we'll give ourselves an out. In addition to pressure, accountability and a routine are incredible influencers on succeeding in our goals. Committing to someone else is highly motivating, for obvious reasons. If we fail, we're not only disappointing ourselves, but we're also disappointing someone else. Having someone to hold you accountable also means having someone to support you.

Having someone to hold you accountable also means having someone to support you.

Our routines become our reality. Having a healthy body means regularly exercising; eventually, you will see results. Becoming a morning person might require waking up earlier every day until it becomes your routine. If you want to be someone who reads faithfully, make a practice of reading before bed, instead of watching TV or swiping through your phone. Before you know it, you’ll have read all the books you’ve been meaning to read for years. When your habits change, you change.

Closing Thoughts

To keep from setting goals blindly, it’s necessary to have a solid understanding of why you want to accomplish a goal to maintain the drive to follow through with it. Our why obviously isn’t a guarantee we won’t fail; instead, it’s what restores us when we do struggle so that we don’t give up.

TIP: Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, refers to our onion metaphor as the “golden circle.” In his book, he explains the power of why as it relates to business and leadership. His why? “To inspire people to do the things that inspire them.” Add this to your reading list!

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