In his book, Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others, (Ignite Reads, 2019), CEO and entrepreneur Robert Glazer provides a blueprint to help readers build their capacity, achieve their goals and inspire others to do the same. In this edited excerpt, Glazer explains how to build intellectual capacity and set more fulfilling goals.

Intellectual capacity is about improving your ability to think, learn, plan, and execute with discipline.  It is closely correlated with the area of your brain called the frontal lobe, which acts as the control panel for most executive functions.

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Think of intellectual capacity as your personal processor or operating system that can be continuously upgraded to perform the same tasks more efficiently than before. The greater your intellectual capacity, the more you can achieve with the same or less expenditure of energy. This element of capacity building offers the greatest opportunity for immediate gains, but it also requires the most discipline.

Setting Short and Long Term Goals

Achievement is the high-level attainment of goals, a concept I prefer over the more common term "success," which is far more subjective. For example, consider the "successful" business executive whose spouse is close to leaving him or whose kids don't talk to him. Most would not consider such a person successful. Achievement, on the other hand, requires having clarity about what is most important and making decisions accordingly.

Goal setting is the best way to get on the path towards what you want most. I once believed I was great at setting goals. I would set a bunch of one-year goals and hit them regularly. However, because I wasn't aligning these short-term goals with my long-term goals, I wasn't moving in a meaningful or specific direction.

Long term goals should be derived from your core values and/or your core purpose. A way to audit goals is to make sure you really understand the purpose for each. You don't need to derive purpose from goals; instead your goals are what help you serve your purpose and values

For example, do you want a beach home because it means that you have made it? Or do you want it because it's a place to spend quality time with family? If it's about your family, but none of them like the beach, reaching this goal is not going to make you happier or more fulfilled.

Eventually, I came to understand my one-year goals needed to align with and emanate from my five-year goals, my ten-year goals, and my lifetime goals.  Quarterly and annual goals became small down payments on what I wanted most.

There is a great story attributed to Warren Buffett that conveys the importance of focus in goal setting in this context. As the story goes, Buffett heard his personal airplane pilot, Mike Flint, talking about his long-term goals and priorities.  After he was done, Buffett suggested to Flint that he conduct the following exercise:

·       Step 1: Write down you top twenty-five career goals on a single piece of paper

·       Step 2: Circle only your top five options

·       Step 3: Put the top five on one list and the remaining 20 on a second list.

When Flint commented that he would continue to work on the second list intermittently, Buffett interjected, saying, "No. You've got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn't circle just became your avoid-at-all-cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you've succeeded with your top five.

Taking this approach to goal-setting and focus a step further, I suggest making that "25-to-5" list across four dimensions of your life: Personal, Professional, Family and Community.

A question I often hear asked is, "Should I be meeting one hundred percent of my goals?" Conventional wisdom says that if you're meeting all your goals, you probably aren't aiming high enough. That said, you also don't want to aim too high and feel like you aren't accomplishing anything. It's a delicate balance.

There are several ways to find that balance. One is to define a range with a minimum threshold (e.g. "I want to lose ten to twenty pounds" or "I want to save at least $1,000 a month"). This way, even if you come up short of the stretch goal, you still win.

Another strategy is to focus on repeatable daily or weekly inputs (habits) that will get you where you want to go. This gives you something to measure each week and helps you hold yourself accountable. Instead of an annual goal for health, you might instead commit to working out three mornings a week or cutting your dessert intake to once a week.

In this way, the input is the goal rather than an outcome that may seem out of reach.

Whatever goal-setting approach you take, what's most important is that it's clear when you have met them. This is where the S.M.A.R.T. acronym comes into play. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (S.M.A.R.T).

If you consider what you want most, align your goals to that purpose, and hold yourself accountable, you'll be on your way to living a life that fulfills you.