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We’re all goal-setters, aren’t we? Whether we want to get in shape or nail the perfect keg stand, we all have something we want to achieve.

And most of us, entrepreneurs or not, like to do a bit of reading to help speed things along. So, you know, our goal-setting turns into goal-achieving.

I firmly believe there’s no single “best” method to reach goals. What speaks to me may fall flat for you. My steps are my own, and your journey is yours.

However, there are many common themes, backed by decades of research and experience: Defining what you want, having a clear sense of what your end goal looks like, putting emotion behind it and being consistent in your actions.

These 7 goal-setting books each touch on some or all of those ideas, and they’re clear-cut and easy to read as well. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you and any of your recommendations!

Start with Why

Simon Sinek makes the argument that the greatest leaders and innovators have all had a strong reason Why they do what they do. It’s at the heart of any success story and, once you recognize it, you can discern who’s got it and who doesn’t.

Start with Why by Simon SinekThe Wright Brothers had a strong Why and beat out a man who was better funded and who had a team of brilliant minds behind him. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple out of a garage. Bill Gates, despite a shy and introverted nature, has built an empire and inspires millions with his company and his charitable endeavors.

“Regardless of what we do in our lives, our WHY — our driving purpose, cause or belief — never changes,” Sinek writes.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

An oldie, but goodie. It’s admittedly been awhile since I last read this, but I keep a few of the habits at the front of my mind almost daily. The 7 habits are timeless and simple to understand.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People One of them is “Begin with the end in mind.” Again, know what it is you want and what your end goal is.

This could be a big end, like envisioning the type of lifestyle you want. Or it could be something smaller, as in, I’d like to organize my office. In either case, it’s important to understand how you want things to look.

For example, I want my office to be free from clutter and to flow efficiently. If you’ve seen my office, you know I have a ways to go on this one. You know what? That’s probably because I haven’t made it a priority; something else always takes precedence. My “why” isn’t strong enough, to be honest.

Another of my favorites is, “Sharpen the saw.” In other words, make time to improve upon what you’re doing. Don’t be the metaphorical lumberjack who hacks away at a tree and never stops to sharpen the saw, thus being less effective in the end. Take time to step back and analyze what you’re doing, to learn, to reassess.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Elizabeth Gilbert works her own magic into this book, which urges us to unleash our creativity and to follow our curiosity wherever it goes.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearWhat impressed me most, though, is how Gilbert combines creativity with a ferocious work ethic. She’s no daydreamer, idly staring out the window and dreaming of pretty things. Gilbert sits her ass down in her chair every day and gets to work.

The muse and the laborer work in tandem.

Why is this in my list of goal-setting books? Again, for the “goal” part of the equation.

What is it that you want to do? What are you curious about? Let that grab hold of you. Gilbert’s book will help you open up to hearing from your own muse and inspiration and then buckle down to work through the details.

When you feel inspired, it’s be a lot easier to sit your butt down in your chair and toil away. And when it’s not easy, you’ll still sit your butt down because you’ll know why you need to be there. And that’s when Big Magic happens.

The One Thing

This one rocked my world. It simplified things. It cut through the chatter.

And there’s sooo much chatter when it comes to goal-setting, isn’t there? Everyone has a technique they want to teach you. This book quiets things down immeasurably.

The One ThingForget about the ridiculously long to-do list or the goal-setting plan of action that’s divided up into subsection after subsection, with labels and notes and headers and … UGH.

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan get to the point with their freaking awesome question, which they call The Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE thing you can do, such by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?


I now ask myself this question every. single. day. I will admit that I don’t follow their procedure as closely as I should, but I do come back to this question every morning. I take a look at my to-do list and then I ask what’s most important.

If you’re like, “I need to do EVERYTHING on this list, and I need to do it today” — read this book. You’ll realize how very short your to-do list really needs to be, and how much you can accomplish if you cut it down rather than add to it.

And when you think about it, this makes perfect sense. It’s not the leaps and bounds that bring about success. It’s the small steps, taken consistently, that add up.

It's not the leaps and bounds that bring about success. It's the small steps, taken consistently, that add up.Click To Tweet

It comes back to priorities. It’s not that we don’t have time … it’s that we don’t prioritize.

What’s the ONE thing I need to do today? Such a simple concept.

The 4-Hour Workweek

I’m not totally convinced that an actual, literal 4-hour workweek is possible – at least not if you want to live author Tim Ferriss’ lifestyle. But the concepts in this book are nevertheless genius and open the mind to thinking up new strategies.

The 4-Hour WorkweekI imagine you’ve already read this one if you’re a business owner or wannabe entrepreneur. But if not, get ready for a lesson on how to turn everyday assumptions sideways.

I include this one as a goal-setting book because if you want to be an effective entrepreneur, time management is everything. As is finding more creative and efficient ways to do just about everything.

We all agree that the trading-hours-for-dollars mindset does not serve us well. The thing to remember is that it applies just as much to business ownership as it does to the 9-to-5.

More hours does not necessarily equate to more productivity. I respect those who go on Facebook boards and talk about how many hours a week they put into their blogs or their businesses, but to be frank, I sometimes also wonder: is that necessary? The dedication is admirable, but is the plan effective? Each one of us has our own answer to that question.

The 12 Week Year

It’s been awhile since I’ve read this one, and I think it’s time for a refresher!

The 12 Week YearIn The 12 Week Year, author Brian P. Moran lays out a strategy to get done in 12 weeks what might otherwise take 12 months. And before you think that’s insane, consider the argument Moran starts with.

Ever notice how much you get done in the week before a vacation or when you’re on a tight deadline? The way you zero in and really focus?

What if you worked with that kind of focus all the time? With a (healthy) sense of urgency and a lack of procrastination?

As with the other recommendations on this list, this book really hammers on the idea of laser focus and clarity, which is the real power behind achieving goals.


Eat that Frog

Fabulous title and a fabulous read.

Eat that FrogThe premise behind the title is that there’s an old story that says if you eat a live frog in the morning, you’ll know that you’ve already tackled the worst thing you have to do that day.

Author Brian Tracy uses that frog-eating metaphor to urge us to tackle our hardest tasks first and leave procrastination behind. Make that hard phone call. Answer that email. Do whatever it is you really want to avoid … and feel the relief, not to mention the accomplishment.

Just as The One Thing has us ask ourselves one simple question, Eat that Frog provides a great way to approach the day. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve asked myself what my frog is for the day, then forced myself to eat it. Yum.


On my To-Read List

These are a handful of the books on my 2018 reading list, culled from some I’ve wanted to dive into for awhile as well as some new ideas I received after posting a question on Facebook asking for good goal-setting books (come join me on my Facebook page!).

Goals! How to get everything you want — Faster than you ever Thought Possible — Hey, if it’s by Brian Tracy, I’m in (despite the cheeseball title)

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul — By Danielle LaPorte. Instead of seeking to accomplish what we want and *then* feeling fulfilled, Laporte walks us through an assessment of really clarifying how we’d like to feel before we ever set out. It’s the idea of being happy now.

The Compound Effect — By Darren Hardy. Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine, writes about how small, everyday decisions determine our success or failure.

The Miracle Morning — By Hal Elrod. Confession: I’ve known about this one for quite some time but keep putting it off because, quite frankly, it scares me. Many of my friends swear by it, but I’m heading in unconvinced. I concede that I feel more productive when I get to bed earlier and rise earlier — but my idea of “earlier” is NOT a full day of work before 8 a.m. All I can picture is a crash and a nap by 11 a.m. I’m also of the notion that our bodies have a natural rhythm to them and some of us are biologically built for later hours versus early morning. Stay tuned!

Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life — By Gretchen Rubin. That about sums things up, doesn’t it? Sign me up for all of it! I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Rubin’s books yet, but I have listened to her podcast and heard her interviewed, and she’s smart, down-to-earth, and thorough. I look forward to learning more about her.


Bonus Section: Courses to Help you Reach your Goals

Ready to act? Here are a few bonus recommendations to launch you from reading into action:

Want to start a blog or build a website? Start with Jessica Larrew’s 30-day website building challenge, which gives you manageable tasks to work on every day for 30 days. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in that time. You can read my review of Jessica’s course here.

Interested in freelance writing? Here’s a post where I outline ways to make money doing so, and included a mention of the Horkey Handbook And Writer Help Wanted has job postings, courses, articles, and are a wealth of information from people who are active and make an actual living at writing.

Already have a coaching business? Nicole Dean is an inspiration who’s a great example of living a lifestyle business. She helps coaches “awesomize” their businesses. Coach Glue helps design and create high-end coaching programs, workshops, and content for business coaches that they can license, brand, and sell to their own clients

Now I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite goal-setting books, and what tips have you picked up along the way?

7 Goal Setting Books that will Change Your Life

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