How to Set Goals The Right Way Using Goal Pyramids

Below we show you how to do this step-by-step.

1. What Is a Goal Pyramid?

A goal pyramid is a structure that connects your life mission with your most important projects and your daily tasks.

We can visualize this as follows:

● Mission level: Your long term goals for your main projects, mission, e.g. happiness, contribution and learning.

● Project level: The projects that make up your life mission, e.g. school, career, business, family, health, spirituality.

● Task level: Things you need to do in order to have successful projects.

● Subtask level: A simple task taking a few minutes, that is needed to accomplish the bigger tasks.

Such a goal pyramid is the best way for you to set goals, that will enable you to:

● Get clarity on what you want

● Be super motivated

● Progress faster towards your goals

● Enjoy the progress as you can see how each action leads to your ultimate mission.

You can read more about the importance of goal pyramids and why you absolutely need to establish one for yourself here:

Now that we understand the concept of a goal pyramid, let us look at how to establish one.

2. The 2 Most Important Questions in Your Goal Setting

In trying to accomplish any goal successfully you need to regularly ask yourself two questions:

● HOW?

● WHY?

2.1. HOW? Top-Down-Approach

When you have a big goal you need to continuously ask “how?”, and thereby split the big goal into smaller actionable tasks.

For example, “Can you eat an elephant? Sure you can. You bite it one bite at a time! “

In the above example, of the goal to become a lawyer, you ask:

● How can I become a lawyer? By passing law school!

● How can I pass law school? By passing all subjects!

● How can I pass a class? By passing all exams!

● How can I pass an exam? By studying!

So you break the big goal down by asking “how” until you arrive at actionable tasks.

As your starting point is the big goal and by asking the HOW-question you are continuously getting to a lower level, this approach is called the Top-Down-Approach.

2.2. WHY? Bottom-Up-Approach

The “why” question is also important! You want to make sure that what you are currently doing is the best way to achieve your ultimate goals.

If you are currently studying a lot, you can ask yourself:

● Why do I study? So that I can pass exams!

● Why do I want to pass the exams? So that I can pass the class!

● Why do I want to pass the class? So that I can earn a law degree!

● Why do I want to get a law degree? So that I can become a lawyer!

As you see, the WHY-question helps you uncover things that you are working on that might not be that relevant to accomplish your goals.

As your starting point is the actionable task and by asking the WHY-question you are continuously getting to a higher level, this approach is called the Bottom-Up-Approach.

We have seen that it is very important to regularly ask “how” and “why”. The HOW-question gets you from the ultimate goal to the lower levels in the goal pyramid. The WHY-question gets you from the things you are working on to the ultimate goal.

3. How to Create a Powerful Goal Pyramid?

There are five steps to creating a powerful goal pyramid:

  1. Create a list of all your goals
  2. Categorize your goals into your main life segments
  3. Order the list according to goal levels
  4. Answer the WHY-question to get to the high level goals
  5. Answer the HOW-question to get to the low level goals

3.1. Step 1: Create a normal list of all your goals

Just write down the list of goals as you would do in normal goal setting. As such some of the goals will be high level (marked as yellow), some will be mid level (marked as orange) and some will be low level (marked as red).

3.2. Step 2: Categorize the goals into your main life segments

Next, you categorize the goals into the main segments of your life. These could be:

● Career

● Financials

● Family

● Friends

● Spirituality

● Health

This could looks as follows:

3.3. Step 3: Order the list according to goal levels

Next you order your goals in each category into the form of a pyramid. This can look as follows:

As you can see in the diagram there will be many goals (either high, medium or low level) that are not yet filled in. We have shown these missing goals by empty circles in the diagram above.

It is a bit difficult to order your goals in the exact form of a pyramid. Therefore, you should instead use one of two structures:

● A mind map, or

● An indented task list

In a mind map you start with the highest level goal and put it into the center. Then you draw branches to each of the subgoals. From there you branch out further to the lower levels.

An Indented task list is very similar just that everything is in the form of a list and the lower levels are indented. The more indentation the lower the level.

3.4. Step 4: Answer the why question to get to the high level goals

After having organized your goals into different categories and related them to each other in the form of a goal pyramid, you now need to ask “why” for each goal. By doing this you will be able to fill in the missing goals on the higher levels of the goal pyramid.

This is shown in the diagram below. The goals you think about when asking why are indicated in gray.

You have reached the highest level of the goal pyramid, if there is no answer to the question “why?”. For example, goals like I want to be happy are at the highest level because there is no way to answer the question of “why”. Why do you want to be happy? Just because of happiness itself!

You have reached the lowest level of the goal pyramid, if you no longer need to think about the question of “how”. For example, “call 20 potential buyers” is a goal on the lowest level because the answer to the question “how” is very obvious, just by picking up the phone and calling.

3.5. Step 5: Answer the how question to get to the low level goals

Finally, you want to ask “how” to each goal in order to fill in the remaining goals that are not filled in on a lower level.

This is shown in the diagram below. The goal you think of when asking “how” is indicated in light gray.

The above process helps you create a goal pyramid.

Doing such a goal pyramid will help you in many ways:

● Get clarity on what you want

● Understand why you want it

● See that certain goals in fact do not make sense because they do not have a strong enough why

● Understand what you need to do to accomplish your top goals

● Make a coherent strategy on how to have a successful life

4. Software Tools for Creating Goal Pyramids

As we have seen, goal pyramids are an extremely important tool for goal setting, staying organized, getting clarity and being productive.

Also, they are easy to implement with an indented task list and continually asking How and Why. However, most of the current project management systems do not fully support goal pyramids.

For that reason we developed a focus tool that enables goal pyramids as an important component. This software is called Workiamo.

Workiamo is a Work Management Software that is based on the Focus Cycles Productivity System and is extremely simple. It is ideal for anybody that wants to be less stressed and more productive.

As you are reading this, you have earned free, lifetime access!

Register at www.workiamo.com by entering this code: ILOVEWORK.

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