Goal Setting – Present or Future? How to State Your Goal

There is often some debate in the goal setting and self development community about the best way to structure an effective goal statement.

Some practitioners argue that it is vital to state your goal in the present tense. For example, if you are aiming to quit smoking, then your goal statement should say, “I am now a non-smoker”. This, they say, is the only way to ensure that when you think about your goal, you think about it in the here and now, as if it had already happened.

Placing it in the future, by saying, “I will give up smoking at the end of the month”, they suggest, will only emphasize the distance between the here and now and the place you want to be and they feel this works against your motivation to get there.

Personally, I believe that it really doesn’t matter whether you are speaking in the present or the future tense. I frequently state my goals completely differently. My usual structure is to say “My goal is to give up smoking by the end of the month”, or “To recruit 1,000 new subscribers to my opt-in list in the next quarter”. This format works just as well for me as any other.

However, where the present or future tense debate is really important is when you are formulating your visualizations and affirmations. Then it is vital to place yourself in the mindset of someone who has already achieved their aims.

“I am a non smoker” is what you should be repeating to yourself many times daily. “I enjoy the benefits of my 1,000 name subscriber list”.

In other words, the goal is the treasure you are seeking. It already exists, it is just not in your reality yet. However, the tools you are using to dig for your treasure must always be the finest and the sharpest and that is only true of tools forged in the present tense.