Book Summary: Don’t Set Goals

Title: Don’t Set Goals the Old Way

Author: Wade Cook

Basic Overview:

This is an older book that kind of jumped out at me at my local library. “Don’t set goals?!  Now that sounds like something I could really be good at!” In reality, the author doesn’t have anything against goals, just the way that we tend to go about them. Instead of setting a goal, he talks about “getting” a goal. The book really discusses the concept of “being,” and the author reminds us that “talk is cheap.” It’s easy to say what you want to do, but he encourages people to adopt Nike’s phrase to “Just Do It” – and he adds, “Just Be It.” (It reminded me of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” ) If you want to be a photographer or writer or whatever, then do the things that those people do.  Act like them.  Be them.

There are a couple key factors to getting a goal:

  1. Do your homework. Surround yourself with people who have been successful in what you want to achieve and learn from them. Read the literature.
  2. Prioritize. Decide how you can better use your time and/or money. Study about what you want to achieve. Make sure your life is in proper order (family, job, spirituality, etc)
  3. Have a plan of action. What obstacles are in your way and how will you overcome them? What are you going to give up to make time to achieve your goal? What are you going to be “doing” or “being”?

I liked how the author gave a couple examples of common goals and the difference between just “setting” them and “getting” them. It helps illustrate the above principles.  For example:

Setting a Goal:

I want to lose weight

Getting a Goal:

(1) I’m going to set my alarm at 5 a.m., get up, and walk or jog for 45 minutes

(2) I’m going to carefully select food at every meal with low-fat content.

(3) I’m going to get my resting heart rate down to 65 by doing 24 minutes of aeorobics on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday….” (pg 4)

…and so on and so forth.

In the end, it’s really just a new twist on what we’ve all heard before about goals needing to be measurable and accountable. The book shows you how to better do that.

Parts I Liked Best:

One concept that I found interesting was the importance of serendipity in goal getting. The book defines serendipity as “…a happy or joyous discovery found on the way to something else” (pg. 29).  Sometimes we can become so focused on our end result that we miss out on other wonderful things. Reaching your goal is just one part of the picture. What have you discovered or learned on your way to your goal? Who have you met and how have you changed? I thought this would be helpful to think about often, especially when you feel like your progress is slow. Maybe you’re not quite there yet, but what good has come of doing and trying and being?

How This Book Made an Impact In My Life, Especially as a Mother (or why I just really liked it):

After reading this, I realized that I often fall into the trap of simply setting goals and then kind of wishing they would happen on their own. I now feel like I have some concrete ways to go about getting a goal.

The book also made me realize how helpful and powerful The Power of Moms really is. Just think, by just visiting this site, you’re doing your homework! You are virtually surrounding yourself with like-minded, successful mothers. You’re reading about and learning from others’ experiences and you’re focusing on one power a month, that will help you be a better mother. So pat yourself on the back–you’re getting that goal!


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  1. Michelle L. says

    I loved this! It has really motivated me to work on my goals that I set for myself this year, and “get” them! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Beth says

    This is precisely why I set Power of Moms as my homepage! My personal motto is “fake it till you make it” and by that I mean MODEL what you want out of life and it will come to you (or you will come to it). Thanks for articulating the wisdom in the book so succinctly – it’s a great reminder to stay on my path. It’s so easy to get distracted by life and fall off course. I love that Power of Moms reminds me of my goals every day!

  3. says

    Sounds like an awesome book. I am a goal setter that just wishes for the results too. Thanks for sharing the information from the book. It is funny how we know what it means to set goals and how we know that we have to put in the effort in to reach that goal…but sometimes that is the hardest part!

  4. Amy Oliver says

    I appreciate the subject of goal setting…however my experience has shown more affective ways. A lot of the recent brain science (when you mentioned it was an older book I was curious about what you would take away from it) has shown the sub-conscious has a lot to do with goal achievement.

    While the conscious mind “sees” in words the sub-conscious “sees” mostly in pictures. Vision boards, writing complete life visions, with specific details and personal declarations are all part of “the new way” These create more of a focus on “being” as well and increase the possibility of achieving the “doing” too.

    I’ll rephrase your own example: Instead of lose weight you would phrase it “I am a healthy size (fill in the blank)” If it’s written in present tense (“will” or “going to” are always “in the future” for the brain) with focus on what you DO want (weight is what you DON’T want) the sub-conscious is more likely to accept it as a reality and set in motion the ideas and actions necessary for it to happen AND the results will be more permanent.

    “Fake it til you make it” can work, but it’s one of the harder ways. When we understand more of how the brain works we can go inside out, as well as outside in. “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” by Dr. Daniel Amen is very helpful and there are many others. It does take work but it’s “smarter” work not “harder” work;).

    I struggled with major clinical depression beginning in my early teens and living by the “laws of thought” has created more permanent personal and overall life changes than anything else I’ve tried (and I tried EVERYTHING~20 years of searching for answers gives a fairly good amount of time to experiment).

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