How to Set Clear Goals And Meet Them Every Time

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Principles: Life and Work" by Ray Dalio. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to learn how to set clear goals? How can setting clear goals help you succeed at work?

The Principle’s system can help you learn how to set clear goals by helping you identify your goals, and achieve them using the five step process.

Keep reading to find out how to set clear goals.

How to Set Clear Goals

To know where you’re aiming, you need to set clear goals. Here are pointers on how to do this.

Be audacious. If you think something’s unattainable, that’s only because your current knowledge is limited. Once you start trying to achieve your lofty goals, you’ll learn a lot. Paths will emerge that were inconceivable to you before.

  • On the contrary, if you know you can achieve your goal, you’re not aiming high enough.
  • Remember, follow the 5 steps in order. Set your goals first without worrying about the obstacles you’ll run into.

Each of us has goals and desires. Goals are what we want rationally, while our desires are what we want on a passionate or emotional level. (Shortform note: At times, the two conflict—losing weight is difficult for lots of people because our goal is to be in perfect health, but we also desire food.) But when your goals align with your desires, it becomes easier to achieve your goals. The Principles can offer ideas on how to set clear goals.

Choosing what NOT to do is often as important as choosing what to do.

  • You can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. People are often afraid to close down options for themselves, and as a consequence they chase too many goals at once. This spreads their attention then, and they achieve few of their many goals.
  • Instead, reject good alternatives to pursue even better ones.

Don’t confuse goals with tasks. The goal is the outcome you ultimately want to achieve. The task is merely what you need to do to get there.

If money comes up naturally as a top goal for you, be wary of setting money as a primary goal.

  • To Dalio, meaningful work and relationships make you much happier than money does. There are only so many things that money can buy, and great relationships are not one of them.
  • Start with your real non-money goals, then work your way backwards into the money you need.
  • Dalio argues having the basics—a good bed, good relationships, good food, good sex—is most important and don’t get much better when you have more money.
How to Set Clear Goals And Meet Them Every Time

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Ray Dalio's "Principles: Life and Work" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Principles: Life and Work summary:

  • How Ray Dalio lost it all on bad bets, then rebounded to build the world's largest hedge fund
  • The 5-step process to getting anything you want out of life
  • Why getting the best results means being relentlessly honest with everyone you work with

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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