How Tony Robbins Sets Goals

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“Goals are dreams with a deadline.” — Tony Robbins

How does Tony Robbins set goals?

Like a champ.

He’s created a simple system that he’s used for years, to dream big and set empowering goals.

The entire process takes a little more than 30 minutes, and in the end, you end up with four deeply inspiring goals in major areas of your life for the year.

This goal-setting approach is one of the most effective ways to motivate you from the inside out and move you to action, so if you have a case of the blahs, or if you want big changes in your life this might just be your answer.

In the book, Awaken the Giant Within: How To Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Financial Destiny, Tony Robbins shares his goal-setting approach that he’s used to transform his life, and it’s the same approach he uses with others in his goal-setting workshops.

The Up-Front Instructions

Tony Robbins shares a few up-front instructions to get the most out of his goal-setting exercise:

  • Write rapidly.  The key is to keep momentum and to keep flowing your ideas, generating possibilities and, knowing why they inspire you.  Robbins says, “For each of these you’ll have a period of time in which to brainstorm.  Write rapidly–keep your pen moving, don’t censor yourself, just get it all down on paper.  Constantly ask yourself, what would I want for my life if I knew I could have it any way I wanted it?  What would I go for if I knew I could not fail?  Suspend the need to know precisely how.  Just discover what it is you truly want.  Do this without questioning or doubting your capability.”
  • Keep it simple.  Robins says, “Don’t waste time getting overly specific with things like, ‘I want a split-level house on time Nob Hill, in San Francisco, with all-write, contemporary furniture and a splash of color here and there–oh, and don’t forget the Victorian rose-garden.’  Just write, ‘Dream house. Big garden. San Francisco.’ You’ll fill in the details later.”
  • Be a kid.  Robbins says, “Give yourself the freedom to explore the possibility of life without limits.  Come up with a fun and outrageous list.”

4 Areas of Goals

Tony Robbins organizes goal setting into 4 buckets:

  1. Personal development goals
  2. Career/business/economic goals
  3. Toys/adventure goals
  4. Contribution goals

The main idea for each area is to brainstorm for 5 minutes to generate a list of goals, then take 1 minute to assign a timeframe to each goal, and then choose one primary goal and write for 2 minutes about why it’s so important. to achieve it.   So you’re effectively spending 8 minutes in each area, so you’re spending 32 minutes total (4 areas x 8 minutes.)

Let’s go through each goal area …

1.  Personal Development Goals

In this step, you write down your personal development goals.
Step 1. Write down everything you’d like to improve related to personal growth. (5-minutes)

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

Write down everything that you’d like to improve in your life that relates to your own personal growth.  How would you like to improve your physical body? What are your goals for your mental and social development? Would you like to learn, for example, to speak another language? Become a speed reader? Would there be value in reading all of Shakespeare’s works? Emotionally, what would you like to experience, achieve, or master in your life? Maybe you want to feel compassion for people you used to feel angry toward.  What are some of your spiritual goals?  Do you want to feel a greater sense of connection with your Creator? Or have an expanded feeling of compassion for your neighbor.

Tony Robbins shares some sample prompts:

  • What would you like to learn?
  • What are some skills you want to master in your lifetime?
  • What are some character traits you’d like to develop?
  • Who do you want your friends to be?
  • What do you want to be?
  • What could you do for your physical well-being? (Get a massage every week? Every day? Create the body of your dreams? Join a gym–and actually use it? Hire a vegetarian chef? Complete the Iron Man Triathlon in Honolulu?)
  • Would you like to conquer your fear of flying?  Or of public speaking? Or of swimming?
  • What would you want to learn? To speak French? Study the Dead Sea Scrolls? Dance and/or sing? Study with violin Virtuoso Itzhak Perlman? Who else would you like to study with? Would you like to take in a foreign exchange student?

Step 2. Set a timeline for each of your personal development goals.  (1-minute)

Put a 1, if it’s one year or less, a 2, if it’s two years, a 3 if it’s three years, etc.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Now that you’ve got your list of goals for your personal development that you can get excited about, take a minute now to give a time line to each and every one of these.  At this stage, it’s not important to know how you’re going to accomplish these goals.  Just give yourself a time frame from which to operate.  Remember that goals are dreams with a deadline.  The simple act of deciding when you’ll achieve a goal sets in motion conscious and unconscious forces to make your goals a reality.  So if you’re committed to accomplishing a goal within one yea or less, put a 1 next to it.  If you’re committed to accomplishing it within three year,s put a 3 next to it, and so on for five, ten, and twenty years.”

Step 3. Choose your most important one-year personal development goal and write a paragraph about it. (2-minutes) 

Write about why it’s so important to you.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Now choose your single most important one-year goal in this category—a goal that, if you wree to accomplish it this year, would give you tremendous excitement and make you feel that the year was well invested.  Take two minutes to write a paragraph  about why you are committed to achieving this goal within the year.  Why is this compelling for you? What will you gain by achieving it? What would you miss out on if you didn’t achieve it? Are these reasons strong enough to get you to actually follow through? If not, either come up with a better goal or better reasons.”

2. Career/Business/Economic Goals

In this step, you set your career/business/economic goals.

Step 1: Write down your career, business, or financial goals. (5-minutes)

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Write down anything you want for your career, business, or financial life.  What levels of financial abundance do you want to achieve? To what position do you want to rise? Take five minutes now to create a list that’s worth a million!”

Tony Robbins shares some sample prompts:

  • Do you want to earn: $50,000 a year? $100,000 a year? $500,000 a year? $1 million a year? $10 million a year? So much that you can’t possibly count it?
  • What goals do you have for your company? Would you like to take your company public? Would you like to become the leader in your industry?
  • What do you want your net worth to be? When do you want to retire? How much investment income would you like to have so you no longer have to work? By what age do you want to achieve financial independence?
  • What are your money management goals? Do you need to balance your budget? Balance your checkbook? Get a financial coach?
  • What investments would you make? Would you finance an exciting start-up business? Buy a vintage coin collection? Start a diaper delivery service? Invest in a mutual fund? Set up a living trust? Contribute to a pension plan?
  • How much do you want to save toward giving your kids a college education?
  • How much do you want to be able to spend on travel and adventure?
  • How much do you want to be able to spend on new ‘toys’?
  • What are your career goals?  What would you like to contribute to the company? What breakthrough would you like to create?  Would you like to become a supervisor? A manager? A CEO? What would you like to be known for within your profession? What kind of impact do you want to have?

Step 2. Set a timeline for each of your career/business/financial goals.  (1-minute)

Put a 1, if it’s one year or less, a 2, if it’s two years, a 3 if it’s three years, etc.

Step 3. Choose your most important one-year financial goal and write a paragraph about it. (2-minutes) 

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Next, choose your top one-year goal in the category of business and economics, and take two minutes to write a paragraph about it, explaining why you are absolutely committed to achieving this goal within the year.  Be sure to stack up as many reasons as you can for achieving this goal.  Pick reasons that will really drive you, that make you passionate and excited about the process.  Again, if these reasons aren’t compelling enough to get you to actually follow through, then come up with either better reasons or a better goal.”

3.  Toys / Adventure Goals

In this step, you set your toys and adventure goals.

Step 1: Write down your toys and adventure goals. (5-minutes)

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“If there were no limits economically, what are some of the things you would like to have? What are some of the things you would like to do? If the genie were before you and any wish you made would immediately be fulfilled, what would you want most in the world?  Take five minutes to write down everything you could ever want, have, do, or experience in your life.”

Tony Robbins shares some sample prompts:

  • Would you like to build, create, or purchase a cottage? Castle? Beach house? Catamaran sailboat? Private yacht? Island? Lamborghini sports car? Chanel wardrobe? Helicopter? Jet plane? Music studio? Art collection? Private zoo stocked with giraffes, alligators, and hippos?  Virtual Reality machine?
  • Would you like to attend an opening of a Broadway plan? A film premier in Cannes? A Bruce Springsteen concert? A Kabuki theater production in Osaka, Japan?
  • Would you like to race any of the Andrettis at the next Indy 500? Play Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, or Boric Becker and Ivan Lendl, in a doubles match? Pitch the World Series? Carry the Olympic torch? Go one-on-one with Michael Jordan? Swim with the pink dolphins in the oceans of Peru? Race camels between the pyramids of Egypt with your best friend? And win? Track with the Sherpas in the Himalayas?
  • Would you like to start in a Broadway play? Share an on-screen kiss with Kim Basinger? Dirty Dance with Patrick Swayze? Choreograph a modern ballet with Mikhail Baryshnikov?
  • What exotic places would you visit? Would you sail around the world like Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki? Visit Tanzania and study chimpanzees with Jane Goodall? Sail on the Calypso with Jacques Cousteau? Long on the sands of the French Riviera? Sail a yacht around the Greek Isles? Participate in the Dragon Festivals in China?  Take part in a shadow dance in Bangkok? Scuba dive in Fiji? Meditate in a Buddhist monastery? Take a stroll through the Prado in Madrid?  Book a ride on the next space shuttle flight?

Step 2. Set a timeline for each of your toys and adventure goals.  (1-minute)

Put a 1, if it’s one year or less, a 2, if it’s two years, a 3 if it’s three years, etc.

Step 3. Choose your most important one-year toys and adventure goal and write a paragraph about it. (2-minutes) 

Make it compelling.  Write down all the reasons why you are absolutely committed to achieving it within the next year.  If you can’t make it compelling, then choose another goal that inspires you more.

4. Contribution Goals

In this step, you identify your contribution goals.

Step 1: Write down your contribution ure goals. (5-minutes)

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“These can be the most inspiring, compelling goals of all, because this is your opportunity to leave your mark, creating a legacy that makes a true difference in people’s lives.  It could be something as simple as tithing to your church or committing your household to a recycling program, or as broad as setting up a foundation to offer opportunities to disadvantaged people.”

Tony Robbins shares some sample prompts:

  • How could you contribute? Would you help build a shelter for the homeless? Adopt a child? Volunteer at a soup kitchen? Read to the blind? Visit a man or woman serving a prison sentence? Volunteer with the Peace Corps for six months? Take balloons to an old folks’ home?
  • How could you help to protect the ozone layer? Clean up the oceans? Eliminate racial discrimination? Halt the destruction of the rain forests?
  • What could you create? Would you come up with a perpetual motion machine? Develop a car that runs on garbage? Design a system for distribution food to all who hunger?

Step 2. Set a timeline for each of your contribution goals.  (1-minute)

Put a 1, if it’s one year or less, a 2, if it’s two years, a 3 if it’s three years, etc.

Step 3. Choose your most important one-year contribution goal and write a paragraph about it. (2-minutes) 

You know the drill, make it compelling.  Write down all the reasons why you are absolutely committed to achieving it within the next year.  If you can’t make it compelling, then choose another goal that inspires you more.

Use Your 4 Master One-Year Goals to Inspire You All Year!

The result of this exercise is you now have 4 goals you can use to inspire your actions and help you focus your effort throughout the year.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Now you should have four master one-year goal that absolutely excite and inspire you, with sound, compelling reasons behind them.  How would you feel if in one year you had mastered and attained them all? How would you feel about yourself? How would you feel about your life? I can’t stress enough the importance of developing strong enough reasons to achieve these goals.  Having a powerful enough why will provide you with the necessary how.

Make sure that you look at these four goals daily.  Put them where you’ll see them every day, either in your journal, on your desk at the office, o rover your bathroom mirror while you’re shaving or putting on makeup.  If you back your goals up with a solid commitment to CANI!, to constant and never –ending improvement of each of these areas, then you’re sure to make progress daily.  Make the decision now to begin to follow through on these goals, beginning immediately.”

As the saying goes, your dreams are the most precious things you own.  Your goals are simply your dreams on a timeline.

Live your dreams daily by holding them close, and using your dreams to challenge and change the story of your life.

Dream big.

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