Setting Larger-Than-Life Goals

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

You’ve probably heard that for goals to be impactful, they need to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. I don’t necessarily agree with all those points, at least not the achievable aspect. I, for one, never really set achievable goals ― I set massive, scary ones.

To truly make a goal count, to be able to dedicate the time and energy needed to make goals happen, there’s one more thing it needs to be: meaningful for you. And that means meaningful enough to withstand the tests of time, change and all the many distractions that life will throw your way. If the last year has shown us anything, it’s that life has a way of doing that.

When you set a goal that’s meaningful, that’s when it transcends your resolutions list and has the power to change your habits, your lifestyle and even your mentality in order to accommodate it and make it happen.

I’ve found success in applying Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to goal setting, in particular his second habit to “Begin with the end in mind.” Your end goal needs to become your unmoving, uncompromisable target.

Think about your motivation, your why behind setting a goal. While work may seem like the number one area you need to set goals, it’s important to evaluate the personal ones first because focusing on yourself will help you become a better professional in many ways. For me, this point came to shift my focus to the personal when I was peaking at work – and it was all consuming.

My journey: Couch to 250K marathon

My starting point looked like this: I worked 12-hour days and had no time for health and fitness, and while I was hitting all my financial and career goals, the picture was completely out of focus when it came to any personal accomplishments beyond work. I knew I needed to find both my unmoving target and my why to do what it took to become a healthier me.

The first step in this journey was in choosing to reverse health damage quickly by getting a bariatric sleeve surgery in 2012. From there, I knew I needed to shift to a healthy lifestyle post-surgery, which I did. It started with three workouts a week with a personal trainer and ended in over 15 hours of training per week.

Along the way, I committed to and successfully accomplished so many health-focused milestones – from jumping out of a plane in Dubai in 2013, to running the Marathon des Sables (MdS) in 2018. Prior to committing to my health and fitness, I couldn’t tandem skydive because of the weight restrictions. And before choosing to run the MdS, I had no running experience whatsoever aside from a few 10ks here and there.

Find what works for you

Going from point A to point B with big goals like these means setting milestones along the way, like me running a marathon before the MdS triple marathon. But don’t let achieving – or, for any reason, not achieving the milestones – slow down your momentum or deter your focus from the big goal.

While goal setting is a personal exercise, some people believe in setting goals and then sharing them with others, drawing from the collective energy of everyone who helps to make it happen. That’s how I choose to goal set – I like to announce it to the world so that people can hold me accountable for it. So, find what will hold you accountable to your goals, big or small.

Keep your goals top of mind by writing them down someplace you will see them every day. For me – that’s a Vision Wall in my study where I write and re-write them. Seeing these every day will make you question whether what you do in the day is taking you toward the big goal or not. If it’s not, then you adjust what you’re doing – the adjustments are inevitable and often much required.

Goals can help you build the road map to the life you want to live, and for me, they’ve been my guiding light.


Rickson Dsouza is a Dubai-based Life Insurance Advisor to successful entrepreneurs. A believer in living life full-potential, Rickson has used goal-setting to qualify for MDRT's Top of the Table for 13 consecutive years, has gone from morbidly obese to Ironman athlete, and strategically shifted from overworked to a three-day work week.