This may sound like a strange question, but are you excited about your goals? Really excited? Do they make you want to jump out of bed each day, eager to get going? Scream, even?

Of course, I'm making the assumption here that you have already invested the time to identify your goals. If this is not the case, please do so immediately. Having written goals will change your life--I guarantee it! (If you don't know where you're going, how would you even know when you got there?)

For the sake of this exercise, let's set goals you'd like to have accomplished one year from now. What do you want your life to be like? What would you like for your relationships? How about your health, career, finances? How about your mind and emotions? What would you like to experience? What would you like to do, be, or have?

Invest some time now to identify these things and write them down; doing so will greatly increase the likelihood of your accomplishing them. If this is a new exercise for you or you need help, there are lots of great books (including mine!) to help you.

My purpose in this article, however, is not to have you set goals, but to revisit those you already have.

The Trap of "Realistic Goals"

Recently, I was feeling less than great. Bordering on depressed, actually--something I rarely experience. Feeling strikingly unmotivated, I wound up being sick for several weeks. Upon closer examination (because I agree with Plato that "the unexamined life is not worth living"), I realized that I had done something that had debilitated me.

I had reset some of my short-term goals to be "more realistic."

Why? Well, I think I'd believed what I'd heard about the current economic situation.

Of course, some of what "they" are saying is true: some people are experiencing an economic downturn. Interestingly enough, though, the Horchow Catalog, a collection of some of the highest-priced one-of-a-kind items you can find, is expecting another year of double-digit growth. (As compared to a one- or two-percent rate for the rest of the catalog industry.) The good people at Horchow said, "There are always well-heeled people willing to pay for fine things."

Obviously, not everyone believes in the economic downturn! Yet in the interests of being "realistic," I had lowered my expectations. A reasonable thing to do? Perhaps--however, the effect it had on me was to render me uninspired and unmotivated to the point where I was lying around sick!

Suppose for a moment you had set a goal of making enough money "to pay the bills." Pretty inspiring, stimulating stuff, eh? Can't you just see yourself leaping from the mattress at the first rooster's call, hurling back the bedclothes and screaming, "Sleep, begone! I simply cannot wait another second to get going--so I can earn enough money to pay the bills!"

Or, maybe not.

See my point?

Once I understood what I had done, I immediately undid it.

I set new goals.

Goals that were way beyond my reach.

Goals huge enough to really get my juices going.

Now, when I think about my new, bigger goals, I get excited just imagining what it will feel like to reach them, what my life would be like having accomplished them. I get jazzed just thinking about my new income goals. I do leap out of bed in the morning. And I know that even if I don't fully reach the targets I've set, I'll go way beyond what I might have accomplished with more mediocre goals--and feel far better along the way. And after all, isn't feeling good what it's all about?

Now, go get your journal, and let's start setting some new goals for the coming year. Following is a simple exercise to help you become clear about your goals and begin creating the life you've always wanted. Write down:

0. What You Don't Want.

Make this a separate list. It can help you get clear about what you do want--after which you may want to throw this list away. (Which is why it's step number zero.)

1. What You Want.

This one you're going to keep, and build upon. List everything you want to do, be and have for the upcoming year and beyond.

Create goals in all the major areas of your life: spirituality, health, relationships, social, career, things, and money. Write each goal in the form of an affirmation, in the present tense, as it were already accomplished.

2. Why.

Next to each goal, write down why you want this and how you will feel when you have accomplished it.

3. Action!

Next to each goal, write down at least one action you can take right now to move toward your goal. What simple step can you take immediately, today?

Each day, read your list of goals, concentrating on the feelings associated with having them, feelings such as freedom, value, love, security, safety and prosperity. The more you can feel the feelings your goal will produce, the faster you can draw it to you.

After you reread your goals and are feeling the good feelings associated with having them, ask yourself, "What is the next action I can take to move toward this?" Do this daily and watch your life change.

JIM DONOVAN is author of Handbook to a Happier Life; his articles, books and a free subscription to his newsletter are available from