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There’s More Than One Way to Set a Goal, Here Are 5!

I’m an advocate that there is no one right way of doing anything. While generalizations can be made of people in general, on an individual level we are all as different as they come.

That’s why, back in college, my friend Paul, CONSTANTLY waited until the last minute to get assignments done and I always tried to start as early as possible. We both performed well, him more so than me if I’m honest. But, we had very different approaches.

Goal-setting is no different. In December, I launched my first ebook, The 7 Day Sprint to 2021 Goals, which offered a comprehensive approach to tackling big goals. However, that’s not the only approach available.

I want you to have the best options out there to help make 2021 as impactful and productive as possible. So, I’ve sought out some of the best goal-setting tools I could find and outlined some of the pros and cons of their approaches. Check it out below -

Backward Goal-Setting

This is a pragmatic and straightforward approach that hinges on ‘beginning with the end in mind.’ It involves figuring out where you want to end up and working backward to determine the steps to get there. The result is a master list of concise, specific actions.

Pros: Simple and focuses on actions instead of concepts.

Cons: Doesn’t account for motivation or dealing with inevitable setbacks.

The One Word Goal

Don’t think that just because this approach is simple, it will be easy. Even more so, I believe that it can be quite powerful, maybe. The approach is to distill a goal or project down to one word. It allows for clarity and removes the emotions that come with complex, overwhelming objectives.

Pros: Simple and potentially powerful.

Cons: Lack of structure and no means of measuring success.

Warren Buffet's ‘Two List’ Strategy

This is one of the more unique approaches on the list. Step 1 is to write out your top 25 goals that you’d like to pursue. Step 2 is to pick the top 5 items from the previous list. From there, prioritize the list of 5 items and avoid the other 20 items at all costs. It’s a slightly terrifying and ruthless way to avoid competing priorities.

Pros: Eliminate distractors and focus on what matters.

Cons: Lack of structure and no measures of success. No exploration of motivations.


SMART Goals are the OG’s of the goal-setting world. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound objectives. This is a time-tested approach that allows you to contextualize goals into a form that gives a much greater probability of success.

Pros: Perhaps the best framework to set a clear, actionable goal.

Cons: Doesn’t tackle motivations or dealing with inevitable setbacks.

The 7 Day Sprint to 2021 Goals

This approach focuses on motivation, expectation management, accountability, and taking consistent action. There is also a key component of planning for failure and making adjustments. There is a time investment to ensure that goals are clear and the right actions can be executed.

Pros: Incorporates individual response to expectations, accountability, and metrics to track progress.

Cons: Requires time to complete the structure and commitment to the process over time.

There are several strategies to use to get to your most ambitious goals. However, simply knowing about strategies won’t help you to do the work that’s necessary to be successful. You have to be ready to do the work that’s required and like the expression says, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’

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