Goal Setting: 4 Things No One Tells You to Consider (But You Should)

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Goal Setting 101

There are a lot of goal setting acronyms out there. First we have BHAG which are big, hairy, audacious goals. This helps you dream big and stretch yourself in your goals.

I’m sure you’ve heard about SMART goals before. This is the idea that goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This acronym gives you a great checklist to run your goals by to make sure they are actionable.

While both of these acronyms are useful, they only address a portion of goal setting. Neither of these are very helpful if you’re still trying to figure out what your goals are actually trying to accomplish.

My definition of success is going to look much different than your definition of success. And this is where a lot of people get stuck. They aren’t sure where to begin. I like to use a bit of reverse engineering.

Core Business Motivators

A little while ago I listened to a Goal Digger podcast episode featuring Shanna Skidmore. Shanna talked about the four motivators she believes people have in their business: creative expression, time, challenge, and impact. This was a great articulation of not only how I felt, but how many of the entrepreneurs I knew felt as well.

Over time, I formed my own slightly different opinion around the core things that tend to motivate and inspire us entrepreneurs and what that means for how we should think about and use them in our businesses.

When I collaborated with Kelly Beischel on our Dream Walk™ event, we decided to focus the evening on things that motivate and inspire entrepreneurs. When you create something, it has the unintended benefit of solidifying in your mind what you know and believe - because you’re putting it out into the world! Together, we figured out how to help the event participants understand their own motivators and it became so clear to me that more people could benefit from this understanding, like you!

The Missing Goal Acronym

I like to think of these core motivators as the acronym FAIM (pronounced fame). FAIM provides a framework for you to dream, define success, and set goals against.

FAIM also happens to be the French word for hunger, which I think is fitting when you think about goals. Here’s what my new goal setting acronym stands for:


If you’re stuck figuring out what your goals should be, think about what you dream of accomplishing in these four areas. Everyone defines success differently, and some of these may be more important to you than others, but most people do have some level of desire for change in each of these four areas, so it’s worth thinking through all of them.

By thinking about what you want when in comes to FAIM, it becomes easier to write SMART BHAGs ( = specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely big, hairy, audacious goals)

Let’s break down the categories in FAIM one by one.

F - Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the number one reasons that people tell me they want to be an entrepreneur. I mean, who doesn’t want the freedom to decide what work you do, when you do it, and where you do it?!

True lifestyle flexibility doesn’t happen by default though - you have to be intentional about it - which is why it’s important to think about it as part of your goal setting. Sure, by becoming an entrepreneur you could argue that you instantly get to choose what you do, when you do it, and where you do it - or do you? Many small business owners instead get sucked into a workaholic grind and spend most of their time looking at the interior walls of their home. Doesn’t sound like like an ideal flexible lifestyle to me.

If you want to structure your business to say, only work from 1-6pm, like Pia Silva does, to take a month-long sabbatical in Hawaii every year like Jenna Kutcher does, or to work full-time from Bali like Sabrina Phillip does, you need to be intentional about how you build and run your business.

You need to set goals around the kind of lifestyle flexibility you desire.

A - Achievement

Achievement is often the natural place our mind goes when we think about success and goal setting. I believe it’s often the place we play the smallest. Think back to when you were little and thought you could be anything and do anything. Then we grow up and start listening to the nay-sayers and that little voice called fear.

All of a sudden we start believing that big things aren’t possible.

We tell ourselves that it’s crazy to believe that we could be a published author, a paid speaker, a well-known expert, a business empire, or on a magazine cover.

It’s easy for imposter syndrome to kick in and shut down the audacious dreams we have. We think, Who am I to do anything important? The truth is though, that anyone who ever did anything important was a normal human being just like you and I. Big things are possible, but only if you believe they are and set out to make them happen.

Do you think people like Bruce Lee or Marie Forleo just happened upon the success they’ve achieved? Heck no! They were/are regular people who sought out to achieve big things.

Bruce Lee wrote in 1969:

I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental super star in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performances and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame…

He died four years later having achieved all that he wrote in this letter (including some big financial and flexibility goals and paving the way for other minority actors - all the elements of FAIM). Decades later everyone still knows Bruce Lee’s name because he achieved legendary status.

Marie Forleo has built a digital empire with millions of followers around the world and yet describes herself as a born-and-raised Jersey girl with nothing more than passion, a laptop and a dream.

I bet you have those three things too, so dream big. Marie Forleo and Bruce Lee big.

I - Impact

Many people I know left their employment because it wasn’t meaningful work and they wanted to have more of an impact. Being an entrepreneur is an amazing opportunity to leverage your unique gifts to have a positive impact on the world (don’t let that imposter syndrome sneak back in!).

If your work already has a clear and meaningful benefit, great! Write goals that scale your impact. Be inspired by the amazing game changers before you like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. (yep I want you to think real big!).

But if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably need someone like me to tell you that

Your work DOES matter.

You ARE making a difference.

You CAN make big, positive change.

You WILL leave an important legacy.

Your impact can be serving or empowering people, enhancing the beauty in this world, or making change in your community, the world, or the universe (yep!).

You don’t have to be running a non-profit to be doing important work. All (well, almost all) work can have a meaningful impact if you take the time to think about the true purpose, or why, of your work.

I don’t just help people build their businesses, I help them live meaningful and fulfilling lives. Platform 53 doesn’t just provide a space to work, it helps people have happier, more productive days.

How do you want to make the world a better place?

M - Money

We often think of rich people as being successful, yet those thoughts are often followed by negative emotions or beliefs about money. Many of us say that we don’t do our work for the money and act like it’s noble to work for pennies.

Money may not be your main motivator (it isn’t mine), but even if you’re just in it for the impact, think about how much more of an impact you could have in the world if you did have more money.

I believe that money does more good than evil in this world. Believe you can (and should) make more of it to tip the scales even more favorably. Need some inspiration? Think about celebrities who are famous for their generosity, like Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah, or Mark Zuckerburg. Here’s an inspiring round-up.

Think about how you could generously provide for others or support those doing important work. What kind of positive change could you make on the causes or issues in our society? Who’s life will you change?

Giving it away isn’t the only thing you could do with more money.

Think about the kind of lifestyle you could live with more money. What would you buy, fix, experience? Think about how you could invest in your business or personal and professional growth.

What would you do with a crap-ton of moolah?


Knowing what to dream about (FAIM) is one thing, but being inspired to actually dream big is another.

Do you know what I get inspired by? Hearing other people’s big ass dreams. Our brains want to keep us in the comfort zone and tell us that those big dreamers are crazy or unrealistic. Well I say screw em’, because in the words of my friend, Kelly Beischel, if not you, then who?

So in the spirit of being a big, crazy, idealistic dreamer, I’m going to share my FAIM, SMART, BHAG with you. This is written several years in the future to really bring my vision to life. Then when this is all true, I’m going to write even bigger goals.

It’s the end of 2022 and I am THE authority on helping solopreneurs live their ideal life. By taking my online evergreen courses, purchasing my resources, and/or attending my global retreats, workshops/conferences, and speaking engagements, I help entrepreneurs get clear on what they really want and build businesses that use their unique skills to positively impact things they care about - all while still having a life.

I have redefined what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur by building a lucrative empire all while modeling anti-workaholism and only being present on a few choiceful marketing channels from the beginning.

I've given a TED talk, made the Forbes 40 under 40 list, and have been featured in Entrepreneur magazine.

My small but mighty and very talented team of 5 help me run my empire with a highly-engaged email list of more than 20K who eat-up everything I create. Each new endeavor has a successful launch of $50K+ while my online evergreen products generate $250K net/year. I get paid $10K to speak and have a long waitlist to attend my highly sought-after global events.

Because of this, my husband and I have achieved financial independence - our “work” is only doing things we love and things that make an impact instead of focusing on making money. We live a generous life unconstrained by schedules and money - traveling the world, taking month-long sabbaticals twice a year, seeing family and friends whenever we want, and giving $100K+/year to organizations and endeavors we believe in.

You know what gives this a better chance of coming true?

I wrote it down.

I’m telling you all.

I believe it.

I read it and write it down again often.

I set smaller goals for how I’m going to make it happen.

I do it.

Dream, Visualize, and Goal Set

Take it from Bruce Lee, the master himself. He wrote this letter at the age of 21.

When you drop a pebble into a pool of water, the pebble starts a series of ripples that expand until they encompass the whole pool. This is exactly what will happen when I give my ideas a definite plan of action. Right now, I can project my thoughts into the future, I can see ahead of me. I dream (remember that practical dreamers never quit). I may now own nothing but a little place down in basement, but once my imagination has got up to a full head of steam, I can see painted on a canvas of my mind a picture of a fine, big five or six story Gung Fu Institute with branches all over the States. I am not easily discouraged, readily visualize myself as overcoming obstacles, winning out over setbacks, achieving “impossible” objectives.

Little did Bruce Lee know that he was going to be known for something way bigger than a martial arts business. His dreams and goals evolved, and so can yours. Just make sure they evolve into something bigger.

Now, go write your FAIM SMART BHAG.

Then, suck up your fear and quiet that nay-saying voice and tell the world about your big ass goals. Then make those dreams become a reality.


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Want more help achieving your dreams?

Goal setting is just one piece of the puzzle. Learn where else you should focus your efforts to build a business and life you life with my free reflection questions: Uncover Your Biggest Opportunity Areas.


stacy kessler - pathfinding strategist

Hey There!

I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you craft your dream business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.

You are meant to do important and amazing things in this world and I’m here to help you do just that.


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