Everyone has an opinion about goals and goal setting. Some professionals love setting goals and swear by them. Others hate them. The only truth is that nothing works the way it should unless you do the work. The same is often true about goals and their ultimate purpose.

Setting goals is not about the accomplishment itself. It is also not just about "becoming the person required to attain those goals." That's too fluffy. It is much deeper, and more important. It is about combining the fortitude to achieve with clear thinking, while making sense of your purpose and defining your ability to deliver value to others.

Goals provide clarity. We all know that when we have a clear vision or desire, taking the proper action is easier. When you have to put the pen to paper, only the truth comes out. Whatever is written becomes real. Writing down goals helps you define who you really are. Goals are tools that help us navigate foggy situations.

In order to even create goals, you must define them first. Leaders need to set and act on their goals. Brian Tracy says that:

"the habit of acting every day on one or more of your major goals is life-transforming."

When faced with obstacles, goals help us make choices. When a struggle seems too much or feels too real, it is then that you are faced with the hardest choices. Sometimes we don't like the options. We feel desperate and alone.

When a goal is in place, the standard has been set. The destination made clear. Even though the route may change, the objective has been determined. The goals are a lighthouse. They might not tell you where to go, but they let you know where you should be.

And for most of us, that is all we need to make the right choices.

When you know where to go, taking the first step is less-hard. Taking the 100th step is easier. Every step along the journey is part of the process. When daily action toward defined objectives happen, everything about your life improves. Your purposes is made clear and your confidence increases because you are producing.

When things don't go the way you want, you learn. When life hurts because expectations are not being met, you learn. Learning is the key to growth. Without struggle there is no triumph. As you stretch you grow. Goals help us become better, stronger versions of ourselves.

There are lots of sources on how to set great goals

Once you have your goals in place, here are three ways to apply those goals that will make you unstoppable:

1. Use goals to slow down.

In order to make the right choice, you must slow down.

Being hurried in action is great, being hurried in choosing your destination never produces the best outcome. Goals help us slow down and ponder our responses.

When I was first starting my sales career, I knew I wanted to be great. Yet, I didn't even know what great meant. It wasn't until a mentor had me define what the goal of great was, that I was able to truly slow down enough to consider what success actually meant.  

As you think about every action and determine if it aligns with your goals, slowing down allows the brain to connect the dots. Slowing down permits you to breath and consider a variety of options. Slowing down allows you to seek out the support you need.

2. Use goals to understand your emotions.

The key to transforming feelings into goals, and goals into action is learning how recognize your emotions. Pay attention to how you feel when you think about your goals. Feel those emotions, and truly make the choice to simply be present, with that all of the risk and of uncertainty.

When I make decisions based on what is expected of me, I am not living my life. Taking the time to ponder your own emotions through goal setting allows you to learn more about yourself. When you truly understand yourself, you can make better decisions. 

Embrace your emotions and then question them. Use those emotions to guide you your daily actions as your work toward your goals.

3. Use goals as motivation.

Most people do the opposite. They wait to get motivated and then set goals. This is wrong. Those are the goals that do not get accomplished. Use your goals to motivate your actions.

My college football coach once told me: "If goals aren't driving you, you will always be the 2nd best version of yourself." 

Motivation only takes you so far. Habits drive true performance.  Goals, when used correctly, create habits.

Use your goals to create habits and drive your motivation.

Once I did, my life changed. 

Goals help you achieve your own personal success. Real success is knowing that no matter what happens tomorrow, you are still giving your best today.

The only choice you have to make is how you handle your inability to control every situation. You are exposed and that is where fear and doubt come in. Goals applied properly help you overcome those negative feelings and allow you to succeed.

Even without the ability to control it all, you can control some of it. Make the most of every situation with properly applied goals to help you slow down, connect, and achieve more.