12 Best Books on Goal Setting

Best Books on Goal SettingH

ow often do you set goals? We all know that goal setting is critical to success but we often lack the awareness or the urgency to make them. Setting goals change behaviors and allow those changes to adapt to the vision of those goals. With this list of the best books on goal setting, you can also learn to reach your full potential with goals. 

Best Books on Goal Setting: THE LIST

1. The Bullet Journal Method
2. It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work
3. Objectives and Key Results
4. Small Move, Big Change
5. Master Your Workday Now!
6. Goals!
7. The Zigzag Principle
8. Think Excellence
9. Hard Goals
10. Destructive Goal Pursuit
11. Execution Plan and Simple
12. Start with the Vision

1. The Bullet Journal Method | By Ryder Carroll

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There’s a reason this system for time management, goal setting, and intentional living has been adopted by millions around the globe: it works. Not only will you get more done, but you’ll get the right things done. All you need is a pen, paper, and five spare minutes a day.

In The Bullet Journal Method, Ryder Carroll, the system’s founder, provides an essential guide to avoiding all-too-common beginner mistakes and building a core discipline from which you can personalize your practice. You’ll not only learn to organize your tasks, but to focus your time and energy in pursuit of what’s truly meaningful to you by following three simple steps:

* Track the past. 
Create a clear and comprehensive record of your thoughts.

Order the present. Find daily calm and clarity by tackling your to-do list in a more mindful, systematic, and productive way.

* Design the future. Transform your vague curiosities into meaningful goals, and then break those goals into manageable action steps that lead to big change.

Whether you’re a frustrated list maker, an overwhelmed multitasker, or a creative who needs some structure, The Bullet Journal Method will help you go from passenger to pilot of your own life.

2. It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work | By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

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In this timely manifesto, the authors of the New York Times bestseller Rework broadly reject the prevailing notion that long hours, aggressive hustle, and “whatever it takes” are required to run a successful business today.

In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson introduced a new path to working effectively. Now, they build on their message with a bold, iconoclastic strategy for creating the ideal company culture—what they call “the calm company.” Their approach directly attacks the chaos, anxiety, and stress that plagues millions of workplaces and hampers billions of workers every day.

Long hours, an excessive workload, and a lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for modern professionals. But it should be a mark of stupidity, the authors argue. Sadly, this isn’t just a problem for large organizations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out the same way. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours—it’s less waste and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress.

It’s time to stop celebrating Crazy, and start celebrating Calm, Fried and Hansson assert.

Fried and Hansson have the proof to back up their argument. “Calm” has been the cornerstone of their company’s culture since Basecamp began twenty years ago. Destined to become the management guide for the next generation, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is a practical and inspiring distillation of their insights and experiences. It isn’t a book telling you what to do. It’s a book showing you what they’ve done—and how any manager or executive no matter the industry or size of the company, can do it too.

3. Objectives and Key Results | By Paul R. Niven and Ben Lamorte

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Everything you need to implement Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) effectively.

Objectives and Key Results is the first full-fledged reference guide on Objectives and Key Results, a critical thinking framework designed to help organizations create value through focus, alignment, and better communication. Written by two leading OKRs consultants and researchers, this book provides a one-stop resource for organizations looking to quantify qualitative goals and ensure each team focuses their efforts to make measurable progress on their most important goals. You’ll learn how OKRs came to be and how leading companies use them every day to help teams and employees stretch their thinking about what’s possible, build their goal-setting muscles and achieve results that reflect their full potential. From the basic framework to a detailed dissection of best practices, this informative guide walks you through real-world implementations to help you get the most out of OKRs.

OKRs help employees work together, focus effort, and drive the organization forward. Key results are used to define what it means to achieve broad, qualitative goals, and imperatives like “do it better” are transformed into clear, measurable markers. From the framework’s inception in the 1980s to its popularity in today’s hyper-competitive environment, OKRs make work more engaging and feature frequent feedback cycles that enable workers to see the progress they make at work each and every day. This book shows you everything you need to know to implement OKRs effectively.

  • Understand the basics of OKRs and their day-to-day use
  • Learn how to gain the executive support critical to a successful implementation
  • Maintain an effective program with key assessment tips
  • Tailor the OKRs framework to your organization’s needs

Objectives and Key Results is your key resource for designing, planning, implementing, and maintaining your OKRs program for sustainable company-wide success.

4. Small Move, Big Change | By Caroline L. Arnold

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Learn how small behavioral changes can lead to major personal and professional self-improvement.

Whether trying to lose weight, save money, get organized, or advance on the job, we’re always setting goals and making resolutions, but rarely following through on them.  According to longtime Wall Street technology strategist Caroline Arnold, the “big push” strategy of the New Year’s resolution is designed to fail, because it broadly pits our limited willpower stores against an autopilot of entrenched behaviors and attitudes that is far more powerful.  To change ourselves permanently, we need to focus our self-control on precise behavioral targets and overwhelm them.  Small Move, Big Change is Arnold’s guide to turning broad personal goals into meaningful and discrete behavioral changes that lead to permanent improvement. Providing scores of engaging real-world examples and new scientific findings, she shows us that while the traditional resolution promises rewards on a distant “someday,” micro resolutions work because they reward us today by instantly altering our routines and, ultimately, ourselves.

5. Master Your Workday Now! | By Michael Linenberger

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Comparable to such classics as Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and David Allen’s Getting Things Done, this new title presents fresh and profound strategies for reaching success in your workday and life. Linenberger explains how work is largely a mental game that you can win by applying a practical new mental model of work called the Workday Now. The results are a well managed and successful workday.

6. Goals! | By Brian Tracy

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The path from frustration to fulfillment has already been discovered. Hundreds of thousands—even millions—of people started with nothing and achieved great success. In this book, Tracy presents a simple, powerful, and effective system for setting and achieving goals—a method that has been used by more than one million people to achieve extraordinary things.
 
Using the twenty-one strategies Tracy outlines, you’ll be able to accomplish any goal you set for yourself—no matter how big. You’ll discover how to determine your own strengths, what you truly value in life, and what you really want to accomplish in the years ahead. Tracy shows how to build your self-esteem and self-confidence, approach every problem or obstacle effectively, overcome difficulties, respond to challenges, and continue forward toward your goals, no matter what happens. Most importantly, you’ll learn a system for achievement that you will use for the rest of your life.

7. The Zigzag Principle | By Rich Christiansen

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Have you ever set your sights on the top of a mountain and then started your ascent by heading straight through the trees and up the sheer cliffs? Or driven in your car to the other side of town―as the crow flies? Of course not! Because you instinctively know that, just as a river has to wend its way around obstacles, the best route is never actually a straight line!

In The Zigzag Principle, Rich Christiansen applies a foundational law of nature to business management, entrepreneurship, goal-setting, and life in general as he explores why zigzagging toward our intended outcomes is more effective than trying to bulldoze our way through whatever stands between us and our objectives.

Christiansen helps you get started, make your way over the big hill to initial profitability, and minimize risks along the way. A s the head of well-established corporations and as the brains behind numerous start-ups, Christiansen has been through it all, and he’s charted all the zigs and zags you’ll encounter. In The Zigzag Principle, he documents everything he has learned, including how to:

  • Identify your destination
  • Create a defined set of values to help you as your business finds its way
  • Add resources and hire the right people, as you turn the cash you have into fuel for more
  • Replicate your successes to bring your product to the masses
  • Protect your resources, your family, and your sanity

The simplicity of a straight line can be seductive. But it’s not a realistic way to go about achieving your goals, because you will always come upon unexpected obstacles in the road. Zigzagging requires you to be nimble and flexible, to “bootstrap,” and to be able to take advantage of multiple opportunities. What it delivers is a success―in business and in life―far beyond your initial plans and dreams.

Use The Zigzag Principle to assess your resources, use them to their fullest, and keep yourself and your team motivated―all while living a life of balance.

8. Think Excellence | By Chaim Y. Botwinick

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We live in a world that places importance and value on achieving the highest levels of personal, social, and professional performance. Think Excellence was born of a concept used to help motivate others to create a mindset that assesses individual and collective potential and that encourages the pursuit of consistent improvement. It’s also a call to think beyond self-imposed limitations to think boldly, creatively, tactically, and strategically. The challenge here is to stretch your potential, your capabilities, your imagination, and your capacity in the hope of excelling toward a point of maximum potential. Botwinick presents nine power principles that lead to an understanding and an appreciation of your full potential—all in order to achieve high levels of excellence while challenging your ability, capacity, and willingness to strive for greater heights. This book is about aspiring to be the best while learning to harness the untapped power within all of us. Welcome to Think Excellence!

9. Hard Goals | By Mark Murphy

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Want to increase sales? Get promoted? Change the world? There’s a goal for that . . .

Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, the school teacher next door who amassed a million-dollar fortune . . . Did these people succeed because they were more motivated or because they were more disciplined? The answer to both questions is yes―but not in the ways you might think. Anyone can achieve extraordinary things. The secret is setting goals that test the very limits of your abilities.

In Hard Goals, Mark Murphy, the acclaimed author of Hundred Percenters, explains the science behind getting from where you are to where you want to be in your career, business, and life.

Leadership IQ, Murphy’s top-rated leadership training consultancy, studied nearly 5,000 workers from virtually every field and found that extraordinary goals―the kind that got America to the moon and back, developed the iPod, created nanotechnology, and helped individuals overcome tremendous personal adversity―stimulate and engage the brain in ways that are profoundly different from the goals most people set.

Research conducted for this book revealed that people who set Hard goals are up to 75 percent more fulfilled than people with easy goals. In these pages, Mark Murphy explains how success, and the satisfaction it brings, comes from knowing how to set goals that are:

  • Heartfelt―have an emotional attachment, “scratch an existential itch.”
  • Animated―motivated by a vision, that movie that plays over and over in your mind.
  • Required―imbued with such a sense of urgency that you have no other choice but to start acting on them right here, right now.
  • Difficult―the greatest achievements come from the toughest challenges―but they also leave you feeling stronger, smarter, and more fulfilled.

People set goals all the time, but the majority end up unfulfilled or abandoned. With all the challenges facing us today, we could use a little more achievement. Hard Goals can help us get there by offering the hard science and practical techniques to conquer procrastination and unlock your brain’s potential for realizing your goals.

10. Destructive Goal Pursuit | By D. Christopher Kayes

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Leaders extol the value of pursuing challenging goals, but evidence suggests that this leads to disaster as often as success. Drawing upon real-life stories, including the Mount Everest Climbing Disaster, the author shows how destructive goal pursuit can cause the breakdown of learning in teams and calls for rethinking the role of the leader.

11. Execution Plain and Simple | By Robert A. Neiman

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Breakthrough ways to keep your business goals on target and on deadline.

A practical job aid for any manager who needs to get an organization to execute better, Execution Plain and Simple provides a proven 12-step plan to get results, overcome delays, and achieve tough goals faster. This short book will help you generate momentum toward critical goals and achieve performance breakthroughs–no matter what the goal or project.

  • Reveals how to execute a goal on time and on budget
  • Shows how to cut through off-target diversions, flagging enthusiasm, and active resistance
  • Explains how to cultivate change and support growth
  • Features case examples from clients, including General Electric, Motorola, and many others

12. Start with the Vision | By Robert R. Shallenberger

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Start with the Vision introduces a powerful planning process called the Six-Step Process that will help any person or team navigate change, create solutions, and develop an actionable plan. A person can take any challenge or opportunity and use the Six-Step Process to create a clear path forward.

When challenges arise, most people start with the problem, which is the exact wrong place to start. Instead, the Six-Step Process will shift the focus away from the problem to the best starting point – the vision! Then, in the subsequent steps of the Six-Step Process, you will develop a clear action plan to help you achieve your vision. This easy-to-use process has helped hundreds of people and organizations achieve massive results.

Below are some comments from people who have used the Six-Step Process:

“We finally figured out a way to take our manufacturing from 16,000 units a day to 32,000 units a day!”

“Our marriage was on life-support. The Six-Step Process gave me and my husband a clear plan to bring the fire back in our marriage. This process literally saved our marriage!”

“Each of our sales rep used this process to increase their average sales by more than 70%!”

“For years, I couldn’t figure out how to improve my health. The missing ingredient was a vision and a plan. The Six-Step Process helped me FINALLY achieve my health goals, and I feel better than ever!”

Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Goal Setting

Setting goals doesn’t have to be a difficult as they seem. Nevertheless, once you develop the mindset of creating visions through goal-setting your chances or potential to reach those goals are compounded through the behavior changes of those goals. 

Happy reading!

Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.

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