4 Great Books to Enhance Your Goal Setting

By Rosemary Smyth, MBA, ACC, Author on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015


Since effective goal setting takes practice, I’ve chosen four books that I feel would be excellent resources for those that really want to set and achieve their goals. I’ve written a short book review on each of them and feel that each author’s approach to goal setting is unique. A couple of the books are more scientific and research based while the other two are quite straightforward and easy to digest. I’m sure you’ll get some valuable tips from each one of them.

1. Commit to Win: how to harness the four elements of commitment to reach your goals by Heidi Reeder

This book has a very simple formula for commitment and is loaded with research studies and lists of additional resources. The author presents four variables for commitment; treasures (benefits), troubles (challenges), contributions (time/effort) and choices (alternatives). At the end of each chapter there are takeaways to reflect on and consider.

The author also reveals the way to predict your level of commitment and which steps can increase the likelihood of your success. The part of the book that I found most valuable was the eight step action plan. Step one starts with defining your commitment and then you work through the process of exploring the four variables of the formula to get to the final step of being fully committed.

If you are looking for a game plan to make sure you are “all in” next time you commit to something you’ll find it in this book.

2. Write it down, Make it Happen: knowing what you want- and getting it by Henriette Anne Klauser

This book covers writing down goals, writing from the heart, visualization of outcomes and getting unstuck. At the end of each chapter there are specific activities that walk you through each concept and help you to explore them on your own.

The author explains that goals are written down with the intent of being specific, time bound, measurable as well as writing about the outcome of reaching them. The process of writing down your goals declares that you are in the game and the author encourages the reader to not be afraid of wanting too much and dreaming big.

The author suggests jotting down all your ideas and strategies surrounding the goals in notebooks and journals, so nothing is lost. She also suggests writing down your fears so you can face them head on.

I really liked the question the author asks, “What do I need to do to help make this happen?” as that is where having a series of activities creates momentum.
The best tip from this book was that if your goal isn’t working out, check to see which side of your brain is running the show. Is it the practical left side or the feeling and emotions right side? Shifting to the other side can get you unstuck. For example, if your practical left side is running your dreams into the ground then write about how it feels to achieve the goal and attach an emotional connection to the outcome.

3. The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Although this book is written for organizations anyone can implement the four disciplines in goal setting. There are many case studies in this book and sample templates to get you started. The authors do a great job exploring the four concepts and the examples are easy to follow and understand.

The 4 disciplines are; focusing on the wildly important goal, acting on lead measures, keeping a compelling scoreboard and creating a cadence of accountability. The authors suggest that the goal must have measureable results and that the lead measures will indicate how likely you are going to reach your goal. The lead measures should cover small outcomes and leveraged behaviours and the lag measures should be stated “X to Y by when”. For accountability, which can be daily or weekly, tasks which drive lead measures are tabulated on the scoreboard. The accountability meetings include a report on commitment, a review of the scoreboard, learning from successes and failures and any new commitments.

The authors suggested a great tip of keeping the scoreboard up to date and easy to understand so you can see how you are doing at a glance. The scoreboard should include the goal, lead measure and lag measures and have simple to read line graphs or bar charts.

4. The One Thing by Gary Keller

As the title suggests this book is about doing the most important thing and encourages the reader to be a person of powerful habits.

The main take away in terms of goal setting is asking the focusing question, “What’s the one thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This big picture question can be chunked down from someday to 5 yrs, 1 yr, 1 month, 1 week, today and right now. This exercise of bringing the task to the present moment teaches you to think big and to prioritize your now.

I liked the chapter that suggests we think big, act big and succeed big. The theme throughout the book is of course “the one thing” and creating a vision for your business and personal life. By prioritizing tasks, you are doing things that are important to reaching your goal and starting the domino effect of success.

At the end of each chapter the author summarizes the concepts under the heading, “Big ideas”. He also suggests writing down your goals, time blocking your one thing, learn to say “no” and find a coach to hold you accountable.
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