Goals: Create The Gallery of Your Life

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When thinking about goal setting it is easy to get bogged down in lists, charts, and graphs. The To-Do list gets very long and soon the whole thing seems overwhelming. I have never been a big fan of being told what to do. These lists quickly become a huge taskmaster, pointing its unrelenting finger at me.

My mind instantly rebels, thinking of ways to get out of the task at hand. Don’t eat that, get that paper off of your desk, get up and start exercising… the voice barks incessantly… All I want it to do is stop… and soon the whole set of resolutions and goals are put aside.

So John… what does work?

In my experience visualizing the outcome of the goal is a great first step. Having a picture in your mind of yourself accomplishing the goal will help you achieve it. The stronger this picture is, the more your subconscious mind will do to figure out a way to accomplish it.

This picture needs to be very compelling.

In a 1996 Book, Building Your Company’s Vision, James Collins and Jerry Porras came up with a term that describes such a picture.

They called it a BHAG or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

This picture needs to be bold, full color, and on the edge of reality.

One of the ways I like to visualize this picture is to imagine a large gallery or library. This represents your life and the pictures on the wall are accomplishments or goals realized. I like to think really big here and imagine one of the presidential libraries with all the exhibits.

Each room is full of photographs, documents, and memorabilia. There are stories and pictures of people and places. Here is someones life displayed for all to see. The successes and the failures all in one place. Each room represents a different area or era of life.

Think for a minute about your library. What do you see?

Are there masterpieces on the wall, or just a lot of unfinished pictures.

Are the pictures all of you, or are there others included.

How many rooms are there? Where is the library located?

Think about the furniture, is it ordinary, maybe rustic, or is it the finest available?

What quotations do you see in the frames?

Are there suits or gowns on display?

What songs are playing in the background.

An interesting exercise isn’t it?

Take a minute and look at the following picture.

Here are three blank canvases for 2007 hanging on your wall. Lets start with a pencil sketch to design our goal outline for our masterpieces. Lets sketch in the location and the people we will meet along the way. Make sure to include the tools we’ll be using. Now sketch in the outcome you expect. With all of the guidelines in place we can start to paint our creation


Here is a picture you might create for an educational goal. You have your teacher, mentor, and friend in the background. Your goal is clearly evident with the diploma and the university in the background. The picture gives you encouragement to complete your education.



What if you want to start your own Personal MBA program? You buy the 42 books, but the task may seem overwhelming. You get bogged down in the details and you find it hard to start. How about painting a picture of yourself with your books ready to start an amazing adventure? You’re on a pier waiting for the next boat to come in. Now instead of dread… you look forward to an exciting worldwide adventure.



How about our usual January diet goal? You want to lose those extra 20 pounds that the holidays added, but you know the usual restricted diet goals won’t work for you. Counting calories gets old fast. How about painting a picture of your waist with those pounds gone forever. The tasty low calorie meals make up the background of your picture. The delicious salads and lean tasty meals make it seem much easier.

Baggy pants after a diet with salad in the background


These are just some simple ideas to get the paint brushes going in your mind. Paint with bold big strokes. Dream big! Take a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. Start sketching some ideas. Create two or three pictures for different areas of your life. Cut out pictures from your favorite magazines and add them to your drawing. Add the words and phrases you see. Mold everything together into some tangible pictures…

Having trouble painting? How about paint by number?.. to be continued.

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