GS Article 2
Set Those BIG
by Rajen Devadason
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.
of my favourite professional speeches is
Goals to Gold!
love delivering it to diverse audiences because
of the visible evidence I detect each time,
without fail, as different members of those
disparate groups begin to realise – often for
the very first time – that this isn’t all
there is to their lives.
Not By A Long Shot!
They, as well as you and I, can and should dare
to aspire to be, have and do much, much, much
must warn you, though, I draw the line this side
of the REAL world! That means I don’t believe
achieving every conceivable goal is
course it isn’t!
a lot more grand, sometimes even grandiose,
goals are attainable than we give ourselves
credit for; although their final realisation
sometimes doesn’t quite match our original
conception. Consider what diva Madonna said way,
way back in 1992, “I have the same goal I’ve had
ever since I was a girl. I want to rule the
world.” (Perhaps Argentina, on the big screen,
was a stepping stone for her?)
or small, the most effective first step toward
achieving anything, as personal leadership guru
Stephen Covey so succinctly puts it, is to
‘begin with the end in mind’.
This advice has direct relevance to financial
planning, which is defined by the Certified
Financial Planner Board of Standards as ‘the
process of meeting your life goals through the
proper management of your finances’. (You can
learn more about the CFP Board and what it
my opinion, the four most crucial words of that
financial planning definition are ‘meeting your
let me ask you: What are your life goals?
I’m sure you can
rattle off many small goals. Inconsequential
ones like finishing this article before lunch,
completing that project at work next week, or
going on holiday in three months.
I’m also certain
you can list some significant goals with longer
time horizons, such as achieving a great
retirement for yourself and your spouse or
funding your kids’ tertiary education or
building a business.
Being able to articulate those goals is a great
start. But what I’ve learnt from my consulting
clients, over the years and across the miles, is
that most people – even those with ‘loadsa
money’ – have trouble defining great goals that
them beyond self-imposed limits.
the interests of full disclosure I must admit
I’ve also had the intriguing privilege of
dealing with a few clients who regularly set
goals so grand – well… grandiose, actually –
that I have had to rein them in!
By And Large, However, Most People Have Trouble
Setting Sizable Goals
After a great deal of thought and observation,
I’ve come to the conclusion that the two big
reasons are – surprise, surprise! –
environmental and hereditary.
Our Environment Shapes Us
Marine biology studies provide us with an
interesting perspective on this phenomenon. If
you put a young fish in a small aquarium, what
usually happens over time is that the fish grows
in size, BUT its maximum size at maturity is
limited by the space available. It remains
if you were to put another young fish from the
same batch into a huge pool, it is likely to
grow to gargantuan
proportions in comparison to its relatively
Similarly, people who are able to set huge goals
tend to come from homes that were ‘spacious’
Those who can’t set big goals often seem to have
grown up in families where praise was absent or
Heredity Also Affects Us
But, personally, I don’t believe it comes
anywhere near environment as being the key
determinant of how people turn out.
bad news is nothing can be done about the genes
we inherited from our parents, or about the type
of home or school environment that shaped us
during our formative years.
the – more important – good news is that an act
of our will can override many aspects of ‘lousy
Human beings have a ‘divine spark’, for want of
a better description, which allows us to make
instance, we can choose to exercise delayed
gratification or to live it up today!
can choose to save and invest 30% of our income
or to squander 120% of that income each month!
We can choose, as adults, to invest 10% of our
resources in our ongoing personal education or
we can choose to stop learning the moment we
leave school or university!
Which choices appeal to you?
have learnt that at the heart of every ‘good’
decision is a willingness to take the long view,
to begin every task with the final end burned
into our mind’s eye.
to help you, I will share a framework for
goal-setting that should increase your chances
of sticking to any crucial task longer than most
That by itself, over time, WILL escalate the
odds of your reaching each crucial goal you set
are free to use this recipe in setting major
financial goals, but please don’t limit
yourself. This algorithm (or recipe) will work
with all types of goals, including physical,
material, social, spiritual and professional
There are three
parts to this easy-to-follow framework:
Choose monster goals;
Take a long time defining these
Think on paper, as you give yourself
permission to run picture-perfect mental movies
of an awesome future.
1. Choose monster goals
– only big goals are worthy of our greatest
attention, fiercest passion and deepest
commitment. Only massive goals have that magical
capacity to fire up your imagination for the
months, years and decades of painstaking
implementation required to achieve them!
2. Take your time defining these ‘Godzilla’
once you embark on a programme of
goal-determination, realise you will become –
beneficially – addicted to the process. It will
take you anything between 20 and 50 hours (and
in some cases more) of concentrated thought and
directed daydreaming to detect the big goals
you’re willing to give your life to
accomplishing. (For specific guidance on how to
‘dream’ effectively prior to goal-setting, read
5 Steps to a Saner Life
– How to Escape a Lousy Present for an Awesome
3. Think on paper
– write down each major goal as you decide upon
it. Write them in the active voice, and in the
present tense, and keep rewriting them.
According to author-consultant Brian Tracy, our
subconscious can only go to work on ‘factual’
statements in the present tense, such as, “I am
a millionaire” or “I have achieved financial
freedom”. If you feel uncomfortable stating
things that are not true, then don’t think of it
as lying to yourself right now but as telling
yourself the truth in advance!
Also, for financial goals, put realistic present
values or costs in implementing them now. Then
roll them forward and take into account the
ballooning effect of inflation on ‘actual’
you take all three steps, you will have begun
the process of beginning with the end in mind.
So, once started, don’t stop.
(For more practical help on
setting substantial goals that mesh with your
deepest held values, read my ebook
UNLEASHED! The Small Guide to Achieving Whacking
Great Big Goals
© Rajen Devadason