9 Game-Changing Tips for Writing and Reaching Goals!

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  • 06 Apr 2024
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Try the fast thought experiment described by Sir John Hargrave in Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days. Visualize yourself twenty years from now. 

What are you seeing? Is the image hazy or fuzzy? Is it similar to a puzzle with missing pieces? 

How can we improve our eyesight and uncover the missing puzzle pieces? 

I discovered 9 game-changing methods for writing goals and then achieving them.To explain them, divide them into three categories: image-improving questions, simple guidelines, and feedback.


How to write goals and actually reach them

Let’s examine these 9 game changing tips on how to identify these missing pieces and how you can find them.


Questions to improve the image — Your goal



If we want to enhance our lives in twenty years and have a hazy image in our minds, we can apply these strong tips to develop and implement our goals.

This is no different from computer coding. In How To Hack Your Brain and Reprogram Your Habits (Like a Computer), I explain how to apply this technique to break bad habits. 

However, this technique can also be used to create and implement goals. Let's see how this works. 

If x happens, then I will do y. 

IF = Cause. 

AND indicates a necessary condition or association. 

THEN = effect. 


IF: I realize that I've gained weight. 

AND: I'd like to start exercising. 

THEN: I'll set up reminders to ensure I exercise every morning. 

To illustrate this principle further, consider an exercise trigger: 

IF: If I sleep wearing my (clean) jogging clothes. 

AND: I employ technology, such as the Pavlok Shock Clock, to get up in the mornings. 

THEN: I'll get up at 4 a.m. every day and go for a run.


2. 80/20 RULE

The 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) is the law of the vital few. It asserts that 20% of the causes produce 80% of the effects.

Inputs or causes equal 20%. 

Outputs or effects equal 80%. 

20% of our inputs result in 80% of our outcomes. The objective is to understand which 20% of your actions generate 80% of your rewards. If you correctly identify the 20%, only take those steps. 


If something you do 80% of the time yields only 20% of the results, you should stop doing it. 

If what you do 20% of the time yields 80% of your results, then execute solely those acts. 

Another example can be found at work:

If you undertake the following tasks: 1) make phone calls, 2) check e-mail, 3) write long reports, and 4) attend long meetings, 5) Visit work-site sites to improve a process; 6) Visit work-site locations to discover difficulties; 7) Speak with employees directly to identify problems; 8) Spend lengthy hours making PowerPoint presentations; 9) Micromanage employee tasks; 10) Micromanage employee attendance; and so on. 

And you find that only 20% of these duties result in 80% of the direct good outcomes for you and your organization. Then only perform the 20%. 

This implies you may only do the following: 5) Visit work-site sites to improve processes; and 6) Visit work-site locations to identify issues. 

Joel Runyon's article about the 80/20 rule includes dietary advice. 



Terry Borton developed Borton's Development Framework in 1970, which provides an easy approach to everything by asking three simple questions: What?, So What?, and Now What?.

Take the Free Assessment. In Razor-Sharp Thinking: The What-Why Method, I discuss the effectiveness of this simple method. 

What? The experience. What happened? 

So what? Why was it important? What is the bottom line upfront (BLUF)? 

Now what? What are you planning to do now? 



What happened to prompt a new goal? Let's say you have trouble breathing while walking. 

So what? 

This is why you should improve your health. If you experience shortness of breath when walking and smoke, you may have found the source of the problem. 

Now what? 

This is your plan of action. 

For example, if you lose your breath when walking and you are a smoker.


Simple rules



Derek and Laura Cabrera, systems theorists, developed Systems Thinking v2.0 (DSRP). In Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems, the Cabrera's conclusion, 

"We are astounded to discover that the stunning diversity and ingenuity of nature that produces peacocks, giraffes, and star-nosed moles is the result of genetic mutations in the four nucleotides of DNA (ATCG). Similar to the genetic code that underpins all animals, DSRP provides a cognitive code that underpins human reasoning." 

DSRP is based on the premise that systems thinking is a complex adaptive system (CAS) with four fundamental rules: distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives.

DSRP is a way to use simple rules to understand difficult and confusing concepts. Let’s look at the simple rules with examples of how to use them in understanding the confusing concept of blockchain technology

We must first identify what something is and what it is not

Once we have made clear distinctions we then examine the part-whole structure for blockchain and something else we are already knowledgeable with

After we analyze the part-whole structure for both concepts, we then look for relationships between ideas

Perspectives (Point and View) 

Finally, we may evaluate the various viewpoints of blockchain technology from a point (i.e. supply chain) and a view (i.e. smart contracts).



Derek and Laura Cabrera's most recent book, Flock Not Clock: Aligning People, Processes, and Systems to Achieve Your Vision, includes simple rules for any organization. 

In reality, I used these simple guidelines to create my vision (Emergent Learning by Swarming the Classroom) for the courses I teach at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kansas. Let's look at these guidelines and some examples of how you may use them.



Dave Snowden created the Cynefin Framework, which is a conceptual approach to assisting decision makers in making judgments. For a more in-depth discussion of the concept, see my post How to Thrive in Chaos. 

This framework defines simple rules (or domains) for determining where an issue exists and the tools needed to fix it. 

The Cynefin Framework has five domains. Let's look briefly at four of the five domains (excluding disorder) with a description, a metaphor, and an example.

Simple (systems are stable, and we can clearly observe cause-and-effect links). 

In this sector, the correct solution to a problem is simple to identify. 
Metaphor: playing checkers. 
For example, in an organization, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) can be used to tackle simple difficulties. 
Complicated (a realm of specialists where we have the facts we need but do not have the answers). 

We have asked questions but have not received responses. 
Metaphor: Chess. Example: Lean Six Sigma (LSS) problem-solving.

Complex (the information we need exists someplace, but we don't know what we're looking for) 

The best approach to tell if you have a Complex or Complicated system or challenge is to look for an emergent complex adaptive system (CAS), which will have a high number of agents interacting, learning, and adapting; hence, if you have a CAS, you are in the Complex domain. 
Metaphor: Playing Wei-chi (aka Go) Example: Applying Systems Thinking v2.0 (DSRP) to tackle complicated challenges. 
Chaos (the domain of the unknown) 

Description: Understanding cause-and-effect is worthless. 
Metaphor: Playing Twister 
For example, first responders and military personnel must train for all possible eventualities. Within this domain.





In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes a powerful habit loop. Understanding the habit loop allows us to modify undesirable behaviors and replace them with healthy ones. The habit loop is a neurological loop made up of the following: 

The cue is anything that triggers the behavior. Think of it as a tripwire. 
Routine: This is the routine you want to change (such as smoking). 
The reward is the motivator for change. It provides positive reward for the new behavior. 
Duhigg offers the following suggestions to break the habit loop. 

Let us look at an example. 

Step one: Identify the routine.

Step 2: Experiment with Rewards 

Experiment with several prizes to determine which one sticks. If you write down every time you run and build up a long chain of events, you'll want to keep going. 

Step three: Isolate the cue. 

According to Duhigg, when an impulse strikes, we can identify our habit by asking ourselves (and recording our responses) five questions: 

1. Where are you now? 

2. What time is it? 

3. What is your emotional state? 

4. Who else is present?

5. What action triggered the urge? 

Step 4: Have a plan. 

Duhigg discovered that if we understand our habit loop, we can shift our behavior. 

"Put another way, a habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD." — Charles Duhigg



Feedback loops serve as the foundation for algorithms, which learn from them. This is why firms like Netflix and Spotify can effectively recommend movies and music to you. 

Swipe to Unlock: A Primer on Technology and Business Strategy illustrates Spotify's algorithm and feedback loop. It is a computer program that finds songs that match your profile.

The authors discuss the Discover Weekly algorithm, which begins by examining two basic pieces of data. 

First, it searches for songs you've listened to and enjoyed enough to save to your collection or playlists. They also state that the system is intelligent enough to detect if you skipped a song within the first 30 seconds. 

Second, it examines all of the playlists that people have created, assuming that each playlist has a thematic relationship. 

We can use computer algorithms, such as the Discover Weekly program, to demonstrate how to adapt and evolve our cognitive models. Our mental models are our own personal feedback loops and algorithms that govern how we live. 

In Flock Not Clock, Derek and Laura Cabrera wrote,

Our mental model (current knowledge) approximates the real world by using our current understanding of reality (together with current facts). This is the lens through which we perceive reality. Once we decide to act on our current knowledge, we receive feedback from our surroundings. This input modifies our mental model, which updates/revises our current knowledge. Essentially, this is an algorithm for improvement.



Colonel (Ret.) John Boyd devised the OODA Loop. Without getting into too much detail, I've modified the OODA Loop as follows: 

It is a high-speed decision-making and feedback method that uses basic guidelines to help you improve your critical thinking skills and have a sharper mind. 

For a more in-depth look at the OODA Loop, see my post How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind. 

The OODA Loop is a high-speed decision-making and feedback process divided into four stages: observe, orient, decide, and act. 

I'm employing the OODA Loop in my Emergent Learning concept, which is detailed in the VMCL section of this post. I utilize it to transition from information to comprehension.

9 Game-Changing Tips for Writing and Reaching Goals! 

In my FHSU course, I require my students to assimilate information before receiving data. Ultimately, information is data. Consider information as a node in a systems diagram. 


I then assist my students with orienting to the information in order to make sense of it. Sense-making is the process of linking information. 


When we connect information (two nodes), we generate knowledge. The Cabreras offer the ideal equation for knowledge: 

Knowledge = Information x Thinking. 

Thus, only by introducing kids to "Thinking" can we bring about Knowledge.


To properly comprehend a topic, we must act. When we connect knowledge, we gain wisdom. This is achieved by the practical application of princip


Final thoughts

Finally, I hope that these nine game-changing strategies provide you a clear picture of your future vision or ambitions. These missing jigsaw pieces should help you fill in the blanks in your memory. 

Just remember to ask questions to better your vision, follow simple principles to get there, and continually seek feedback to improve.

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