Goals! by Brian Tracy: Overview & Key Takeaways

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What is Brian Tracy’s book Goals! about? What is the key message you can take away from the book?

In his book Goals!, motivational speaker Brian Tracy shares the mindset and the steps that will help you reach your goals in the shortest amount of time. As we’ll explore, he believes that goal-setting requires changing your mindset, being clear about what you want, using visualization, and keeping track of your progress. Once you have set this foundation, you can start setting and achieving your goals.

Here is a brief overview of Goals! by Brian Tracy.

Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible

Goals! by Brian Tracy is a walkthrough of his goal-achievement process. There are two parts to it. First, you must get into the right mindset by clarifying your values, rejecting self-limiting beliefs, and visualizing your future. Once you have done this preparation, you can embark on your goal.

Tracy was a high school dropout who did odd jobs to make ends meet. While working in sales, he made it his goal to earn $1,000 a month. He wrote down his goal, got to work, and hit his target, but it wasn’t smooth sailing from there—his fortunes still waxed and waned over the years. When he was once again down on his luck, he decided to consolidate everything he had learned about goal-setting into a proper system.

Tracy’s life changed dramatically within a year. Seeing the true power of goal-setting, he researched the subject extensively, refined his practices, and shared his system with others. He later released videos and audio recordings of his seminars, enabling him to reach hundreds of thousands of people. 

Is Success Really Just About Setting Goals?

Tracy, whose net worth is reportedly $15 million, credits all of his success to his goal-setting system. However, he doesn’t consider the fact that he had one factor working in his favor: his race. As a white man, he had more opportunities and better odds of becoming a millionaire compared to Hispanic and Black people. 

Research reveals that:12.5% of whites in the U.S. are millionaires versus just 1.4% of Hispanic people and 1.3% of Black people.A white person with a graduate degree has a 37% chance of becoming a millionaire, but a Black person with the same degree has just a 6.7% chance.Black people have more limited job opportunities—a study found that resumés with white-sounding names attached got 50% more callbacks for interviews than those with African-American-sounding names attached. 

This is not to say that Hispanic and Black people can’t become successful; they just have more challenges to overcome than Tracy acknowledges. 

The 12-Step Process to Achieve Your Goals

Once you’ve gotten into the right mindset by taking responsibility, clarifying your values, rejecting self-limiting beliefs, and visualizing your future, you can start setting and achieving your goals. Tracy breaks down the process into 12 steps:

Step 1: Figure Out What You Really Want. According to Tracy, the first step to setting goals is to determine what you actually want. This is important because knowing what you want keeps you from wandering aimlessly—when you know where you’re going, you can move forward purposefully and decisively.  To avoid coming up with vague wishes, make sure that your goals are:

  1. clear and quantifiable
  2. challenging
  3. time-constrained
  4. aligned with your values and with each other

Step 2: Believe You Can Achieve It. If you were honest about what you want in Step 1, you might now have a list of goals that seem unattainable, from the amount of money you want to earn to the kind of relationship you want to have. Tracy recommends avoiding goals that are outrageously ambitious, because you’ll only feel discouraged or defeated if you don’t hit these goals right away. Instead, set one small goal after another. This strengthens your goal-setting muscle, giving you the confidence to set bigger goals.

Step 3: Write It Down. Once you have a strong conviction that you can achieve whatever you set out to do, it’s time to commit your goals to paper. Tracy recommends that you spend five minutes a day listing 10 to 15 goals. Refine the list as the days go by until your goals become clearer and eventually become second nature to you.

Step 4: Assess Your Starting Point. Once you’re clear about your destination, the next step is to determine your starting point. Tracy says that you should be brutally honest about your current circumstances and how you got there. Reflect on the people or behaviors that have led to your current situation and that may continue to hinder your progress and prevent you from reaching your goals. Not having to deal with these barriers will save you plenty of time and effort in the long run, so think about how you can be free of them.

Step 5: Find Your “Why.” Once you’ve figured out what goals to pursue and where to start on them, turn your attention to why you want to achieve them. The road to your goals can be long and arduous, so reminding yourself of the reasons you want to achieve them can keep you going despite the obstacles. To this end, Tracy says to list all the reasons you have to pursue each of the goals on your list. Write as many reasons as you can think of—having more reasons increases your motivation, persistence, and determination. 

Step 6: Determine the “When.” After writing down your reasons for wanting to achieve the goals you’ve chosen, turn your attention to setting deadlines for each of them. It’s okay if your progress isn’t perfectly aligned with your predicted timeline—Tracy says you might achieve some goals earlier and others later than planned. What matters is that you have a target timeline to aim for.

Step 7: Identify Challenges. Now that you have a comprehensive view of your goals and when you want to achieve them, the next step is to identify potential challenges. According to Tracy, challenges are inevitable and failure is part of the process of pursuing your goals. When you know the challenges and potential problems ahead of you, you can be better prepared to face them.

Step 8: Keep Learning. Once you identify your challenges, you’ll have a clearer idea of the skills required for you to overcome them and reach your goals. Tracy argues that if you don’t have the necessary skills or if you’re weak in some areas, commit to learning and strengthening those skills. Learning new things will not only help you reach your goals but will also increase your self-esteem and give you more courage and confidence to pursue what you want.

Step 9: Build Connections With the Right People. After identifying the skills you’ll need to achieve your goals, assess what kind of help you need from other people to improve your skills and move closer to your goals. Tracy believes that other people are necessary to your success, whether their role is to open doors to opportunities or to provide emotional or moral support. The right kind of help can save you years of hard work and fast-track your achievements. 

Step 10: Plan and Execute. Now that you’ve clarified what you want, identified the challenges, and determined the skills and people you need, Tracy says you’re ready to turn your goals into multi-step projects with deadlines. Tracy writes that you shouldn’t aim to come up with a perfect plan from the beginning. Instead, just aim to get started on working toward your goals—you can make adjustments to your plan along the way.

Step 11: Stay on Track. Once you start executing your plan, the next step is to monitor your progress. Tracy says you can do this by setting daily, weekly, and monthly benchmarks and metrics for each of your goals. Numbers make it plain to see whether you’re moving closer to your goal, allow you to make corrections as soon as you see that something is off, and help you stay on schedule.

Step 12: Keep Going. With a clear picture of your future and a solid plan in the execution phase, all that’s left to do is to keep moving forward, no matter what challenges come your way. Tracy says that there are two qualities that you need to develop so that you can face the challenges you encounter: courage and persistence.

Goals! by Brian Tracy: Overview & Key Takeaways

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Here's what you'll find in our full Goals! summary:

  • Brian Tracy's steps to setting and reaching your goals
  • How to approach your goals with the right mentality
  • Why persistence is more important than courage

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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