Skip to content
Brian Tracy's 12 Steps to Goal Setting
Ash RoyDec 5, 2022 11:29:31 AM24 min read

219. Brian Tracy — 12 steps to goal setting

Brian Tracy — 12 steps to goal setting

In his book Goals, Brian Tracy shares his 12 steps to goal setting (and achievement)



This video walks through the 12 steps and includes some of my own personal insights on those steps gleaned from other resources I've encountered over the years and my own conversation with Brian which you can learn more about here.

Links Mentioned:



If you're a small business owner, a coach, or a consultant, and you're looking to 

achieve the goals that you've set for yourself this quarter or this year, this 

might be the best video you've watched all day It's Ash Roy. And thanks for tuning 

into the productive insights podcast or the productive insights YouTube channel. This 

is episode 219. In this video, we are going to talk about Brian Tracy's 12 steps to 

actually achieving your goals. As set out in his book, titled Goals, I've read the 

book and I highly recommend it. I'll also be sharing some of my insights from my recent 

conversation with him in episode 207. I don't know about you, but I have set out 

several goals for myself and have not achieved them far more often than I would care to 

admit. And if you struggled with the same problem these 12 steps might be 

transformative for you. I especially like step number 11, and I'll explain why a 

little bit later in this video. Now I'll be popping a link to Brian Tracy's book 

goals below this video and in the show notes, which you can access at And if you're watching this on YouTube, I have a special giveaway for one person valued at $497. And I'll be sharing exactly how you can get access to that giveaway at some point in this video. So make sure you stay tuned all the way till the end. Okay? So let's get into it. Brian Tracy's 12 

steps to achieving your goals. And before embarking on these 12 steps, Tracy 

recommends you do four things. The first thing he says is to develop a really strong 

mindset that enables you to take responsibility for your life and for your actions. 

We'll talk more about this later. The second thing he says is to get clear on your 

values. It's very important that your values are aligned with your goals. 

Otherwise, it's going to be a mismatch and you're going to be very de-motivated pretty quickly. 

The third step he talks about is projecting your self-limiting beliefs. You have to 

believe that you can achieve your goals. That is absolutely critical. If you don't 

believe you're gonna achieve your goals, you're likely to get in your own way and 

stop yourself, see are short of achieving them. And the final thing he says is to 

visualize your future. Now that is very closely related to developing belief and 

actually developing belief as a skill. And you can build this belief over time, and 

I'll be talking more about exactly how you can build this belief in a section coming 

up, but we talk about writing down your goals. Okay? So once you've done those four 

things, you're then ready to embark on Brian Tracy's 12-step process. The first step 

is to figure out what you really want in the following areas of your life, finances, 

career, relationships, and health. Tracy recommends you get really clear in these 

four areas to understand what you really want. What are your values in these areas so 

that you can then come up with goals that are aligned with those values? Tracy also 

says that you should set yourself goals that are challenging time-constrained and 

clear and quantifiable. If you want to learn more about how to set smart goals, you 

might want to check out my blog posts, which are linked to in the show notes, where I 

give you an actual template for creating smart goals for yourself and walk you through 

each of those steps. Okay? Step number two, you need to believe that you can achieve 

  1. And I'm not talking about magically manifesting goals. Although some people 

believe that it's possible. And maybe it is. I'm talking about setting yourself a few 

goals that are actually achievable. I've often sent myself too many goals, and that 

can be very de-motivating. You also want to set yourself goals that are realistic. So 

for example, you don't want to set yourself a goal saying I'm going to double my 

income from $200,000 a year to $400,000 a year. By the end of next week, that's just 

unrealistic. However, you might say, I'm going to double my income by the end of this 

year, and I'm going to break it down into monthly, weekly, and daily milestones. And 

that's how I will get to that result. Now that's not to say you can't quadruple and 

10 X your income in a year. It's possible, but it's unlikely. So you want to try and 

set yourself goals that are challenging, but achievable if you exceed those goals. 

Great, but just set yourself things that are realistic. Now, the next step is really 

important, and that is about writing your goals down bright new goals down every 

single day. I recently spoke to Brian myself about this. Writing your goals down 

helps you to build your belief of the time. I believe that belief is kind of like 

skill and you can build it by reinforcing that vision. And you can do that by writing 

your goals down every day. I have a series of books over here that I'd be writing in 

four months now, ever since Brian told me that I should write my goals down every 

day, he suggested I do it for a month, but I've now been doing it for about almost a 

year. And it has made a dramatic difference in my life. It's increased the sense of 

urgency and the sense of agency. And it has developed more belief around these goals 

that I'm pursuing for myself and for my business. Here's a snippet from that 

conversation that happened. Brian, check it out. Can you talk to us a little bit 

about your views on thinking on paper? You actually talk about this in your earlier 

book. And I think it's very important for our listeners to understand 


Brian Tracy:

Ash. I'm so glad you brought that up because what I'm going to explain to you is a 

life-changer that something happens between the head and the hand. That is almost a 

miracle. You can never get that. As you say, from typing,  it comes from writing. And 

so what I do in almost all of my seminars, is I have people take a page of paper and 

write down 10 goals that they'd like to accomplish in the next 12 months, and then 

select one goal. The goal that can have the greatest impact on all the others and 

focus on that one goal. What I have discovered, which was like a miracle to me is 

that when you write down a goal, you're actually writing it into your superconscious 



Ash Roy:

Wow, Man, that's powerful as an idea. 

Brain Tracy:

Yes. And what that means is down your superconscious mind takes that goal and begins 

to work on the goal of 24 hours a day. Things will start to change. And I remember 

when I was poor living on the floor of a friend's one-room apartment, and I was 

reading a magazine article. And instead, if you want to be successful, you have to 

have goals. So I took a scrap of paper and I wrote down 10 goals and I promptly lost 

both the magazine and the list of goals. But in the next 30 days, my whole life 



I would recommend writing your goals down each day. Would that make it even better? 


So I started a course and I gave it for seven years and I trained more than a 

thousand business owners. On my first day, I said, I want to introduce you to your 

new best friend and your new best friend is a spiral notebook. So people would take 

this and I would have them write out 10 goals that they wanted to accomplish sometime 

in the next 12 months, I said, for the next 30 days, I want you to pick up your 

workbook and every day, write down 10 goals the next day, turn the page. And without 

looking at your previous page, write down 10 goals again and write down. And so 

don't, in other words, you're not just copying from day to day, right? Reread from 

memory. And this rewriting from memory, what will happen is the description of your 

goals will change because you won't remember. And the order of priority of your goals 

will change. And you'll keep doing this. And in 30 days, your life will have changed 

forever. If you've got half a brain, just do it every day, it takes three to five 

minutes for you to quickly write down your 10 goals, and you will start to achieve the 

goals and replace them with other goals. At the end of the month, your whole life 

will have taken this rapid change. And at the end of the year, you'll be a different 



Ash Roy:

Okay? So just to recap, the first step was figuring out what you really want in those 

four areas. The second step was to believe that you can achieve the goals. The third 

step was, to write your goals down every single day, and now we're on the fourth step. 

So the fourth step is about taking stock, assessing where you are right now and what 

got you here. So why is that important? Because assessing what got you here and 

understanding where you are in the scheme of things helps you to understand the 

patterns that got you here. Have you heard the phrase? What got you here? Won't get 

you there. You might need to implement different strategies and adopt different 

habits to go from six figures to seven figures as compared to the habits and 

strategies that got you from five figures to six figures. So here are some questions 

you can ask yourself, what is your income level at this point, maybe you're trying to 

get fitter. So you ask yourself, what is your body fat percentage at this point? What 

is your weight at this point? What are your body measurements at this point? 


And then you say, well, how did I get here? Then you ask yourself, where am I going? 

What income level do I want to get to? What body fat percentage do I want to get to? And 

then you examine the behaviors that got you here and compare them to the behaviors 

that are going to get you to that next goal. Let's say you want to increase your 

profitability from 20% to 30% because let's face it. There's no point in making a 

million dollars a year. If you're spending $2 million a year making it right, you're 

worse off than having no money in the bank at all. So if you want to increase your 

profitability, you need to look at certain behaviors that have led to your current 

level of profitability. And what behaviors are going to change to take that 

profitability up. In other words, how are we going to reduce your costs while keeping 

your revenue or your income levels constant so that you can increase the profit that 

you make each year? Maybe you want to look at your behaviors around spending. Maybe 

you want to cut back on some of the software that you've been subscribing to forever, 

but having used it as a business owner, maybe you want to spend less money on gadgets. 


Ash Roy:

Maybe you want to cut back on those pay-per-click advertising campaigns that aren't 

giving you the ROI that you've been looking for. Okay. Step number five, discover 

your “why” Simon Sinek talks about this a lot. Why do you want to achieve the goals you 

listed in step three? Why are these goals important to you? You might want to 

consider using the five why's approach and our link to that in the show notes. So you 

can learn a bit more about it, but essentially it's a process of asking the question 

why several times, so you go deeper and deeper and deeper into your why and 

understand the underlying drivers that are pushing you to achieve this goal. 


Ash Roy:

Understanding your why at a deep level will help you navigate the inevitable 

obstacles that life is going to throw your way as you pursue your goals. Now here's a 

bonus tip for you. Set yourself up for success by creating a positive mental and 

physical work environment. If you want to learn more about how to set yourself up in 

an environment that is conducive to building great habits, check out my conversation 

with James Clear. I'll link to that in the show notes. It's episode 175, and it can 

access at Okay. Step number six set yourself 

deadlines for each goal. Have you ever heard the phrase, a goal without a deadline is 

just a dream? Well, it's true. You need to get clear on where you're going and when 

you're going to achieve that goal. Now you may change your deadlines from time to 

time. But if you don't set yourself a deadline, there's going to be no sense of 

urgency to achieve it. You won't be able to rally your resources and your team's 

resources around that deadline. The other benefit of setting deadlines is it forces 

you to be a bit more realistic around how many goals you can pursue at any given time 

deadlines matter, use them. Okay? So we are at the halfway mark. Let's do another 

quick recap. The first six steps we've covered so far are step one, figure out what 

you really want. Step two, believe you can achieve your goals. Step three, write your 

goals down every day. Step four, assess your starting point. What got you here won't 

necessarily get you there. Step five, discover your "why" using the five why's approach 

except for six set deadlines for every goal. Okay. Let's keep going. Step seven. Identify 

the challenges you're likely to face along the way and then work out how you're going 

to get around them. What sort of challenges are you likely to face and how will you 

navigate your way around them? This step helps you to fortify your brain against the 

inevitable challenges and failures. You are going to encounter on your way to 

success. Brian, Tracy offers a great reframe of the word failure. He says, you only 

fail when you stop trying, which I agree with wholeheartedly but wait, does that 

mean you just keep trying and trying and trying when you know that it's not working? 

No, absolutely not. And we'll talk about that more in step 11, you do need to know 

when to quit and you need to be intelligent about it. But most people just quit 

way too early and often people quit just before. They're about to succeed. Make sure 

that's not you. When Edison was asked how he felt about failing a thousand times on 

his way to inventing the light bulb. He said I didn't fail a thousand times. I just 

found a thousand ways that didn't work. He reframed failure as a necessary part of 

the way to success. It's important that you prime your brain, not to see failure as 

an end or as something that detracts from your energy, but rather as something that 

fuels you to keep moving forward provided you are not on a fool's errand. Looking at 

adversity from this lens enables you to overcome several challenges and allows you to 

adopt a very positive and can-do mindset. So here's a challenge for you. Next time 

you face adversity, ask yourself, how would Edison have viewed the situation? What 

would he have said to himself? How would he have viewed this challenge? And how would 

he have reframed this so-called failure? Step eight, keep learning. Tracy talks about 

committing to lifelong learning. And I remember after I finished my MBA, they 

actually talked about lifelong learning. And I remember thinking, wow, that is a 

brilliant concept. I do believe that it pays to be a lifelong learner. It creates a 

certain sense of openness, a stance of humility that always enables you to grow and 

evolve, which in my opinion is necessary for survival. And to thrive. Here are the 

four tips that Tracy recommends. If you want to become a lifelong learner, he 

recommends identifying the key result areas in your field and ask yourself, what do 

you need to do to be great at it? Maybe you're a graphic designer and you want to get 

better at your job. You might want to ask yourself, what is the best graphic design 

software in this field and how can I learn to be an expert at it so that I can do my 

job better. It then recommends that you reach out to your bosses, your coworkers, and 

a few people you trust and ask them to rate you on a scale of one to 10 in your key 

result areas. Now a word of caution, don't go to just anyone and ask them to rate you 

because there are lots of naysayers out there and they can just drag you down big 

judicious about who you choose, ask people who will give you constructive feedback. 


Ash Roy:

Having chosen those people be receptive to the feedback and think of how you can 

incorporate that into your skillset. The next thing you want to do is identify your 

weaknesses. Now there's a lot of talk about focusing on your strengths and for the 

most part, I agree with that, but it's also important to understand where your weak 

points are because let's face it. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, 

right? And finally, Tracy says to be good at lifelong learning, you want to leverage 

what you're good at once you've worked on shoring up your weaknesses and Tracy 

recommends you get to the point where you give yourself a seven out of 10 on your 

weak areas. You then need to build on your natural strengths. Okay? Step number nine, 

surround yourself with the right people. Jim Rowan was known to have said, you're the 

average of the five people you hang around with. And I think he was right who you 

choose to hang around with determines the philosophies, values attitudes you let into 

the life. And these things really matter. Choose your friends wisely. Once you've 

identified the skills you need to achieve your goals, figure out who embodies the 

values and those attitudes that will help you to achieve those skills and spend more 

time with them. One thing's for sure you can't go wrong by hanging around with people 

who have great integrity and a strong work ethic. Find these people and then build 

relationships with them and nurture those relationships. How do you build these 

relationships? The best way to start is by getting adopt a generous stance. If you 

want to learn more about generosity and developing these meaningful relationships, 

you might want to check out my conversation with Seth Godin. In episode 200, you can 

find out more at Okay? So we're up to step 10, a final 

pit stop. Let's do a quick check-in. So do you remember the nine steps? Step one, 

figure out what you really want. Step two. Believe you can achieve it. Step three, 

write your goals down. Step number four, assess your situation. What got you here? 

Won't get you there. Step five. Discover your "why". Remember using the five whys to go 

deeper and discover your why? So you can overcome obstacles that will inevitably come 

your way. Step six set deadlines for each goal, deadlines matter. Step seven, 

identify the challenges you're likely to face along the way. So you can prime your 

brain and you can set yourself a strategy to get around those inevitable challenges. 

Step eight, keep learning lifelong learning. Step nine, surround yourself with the 

right people. And that brings us to step 10. I'm running out of fingers, Create a 

plan and execute it. How often do we create plans, but then do nothing with them? We 

don't execute. This is where setting yourself deadlines and goals that can be tracked 

to deadlines are critical. At this point, you're clear on what you want. You've 

identified the skills you need to achieve the things that you want to achieve. It 

figured out the inevitable challenges you're going to encounter, and you've figured 

out your "why", which is going to help you see yourself through those challenges. The 

next step is to turn all your short and medium-term goals into a plan that will take 

you all the way through to your long-term goal. Now, I had an interesting 

conversation with Jessica ma in episode 113. And what came out in that conversation 

was the act of planning in and of itself is a valuable exercise. Your plan may not 

actually materialize it often doesn't, but the act of planning brings a certain level 

of insight. That is invaluable. So I can't stress enough, that to create a plan and then 

execute it. Tracy recommends the following three steps to creating your plan and 

executing it. He suggests you create a project planning sheet, which has your 

tasks arranged by priority and the deadlines he suggests you consult with other 

people involved so that you're taking into account all the resources that will be 

brought to bear on your goal. Achievement. You suggest consulting with other people 

involved in shaping these goals so that you can identify whether these goals are 

realistic and achievable. And then he says, at that point, you decide whether to move 

forward or not assuming that you and your team members agree that the goal is 

achievable. Basically recommends they're doing this as better than just chasing 

something that is a lost cause. Now you may recall earlier on in this episode, I 

talked about knowing when to quit and not chasing a fool's errand. Well, this is it. 

This is where you have a reality check and you check not just in with yourself, but 

with the other stakeholders involved as to whether the goal is achievable and whether 

it's feasible. And then if you still feel that it's strategic and feasible, you move 

forward. Okay? Step 11. This is what I said was going to be the most important step. 


Ash Roy:

Monitor your progress and stay the course. Peter Drucker famously said you can't 

manage what you can't measure. This is true for most things, especially for goals 

basically recommends you set yourself daily, weekly, monthly, and annual benchmarks 

for your goals, and then measure your progress against them. This is really important 

because it'll tell you when you're on track and when you're getting off track, it 

will also tell you if your goals initially seemed realistic, but are now no longer 

realistic because of changed circumstances or maybe skills that you overestimated 

when you set those goals. Just a quick note here, numerical metrics are important 

but don't underestimate the value of qualitative feedback. Being able to just get 

revenue numbers, for example, is a great thing. But if you're annoying people in the 

process of growing your sales, then you're probably doing yourself brand damage. And 

that qualitative feedback on how you're going about achieving your goals is as 

important. And in some cases more important than the quantitative feedback of what 

revenue numbers you've hit or what profit targets you've achieved. And the final step 

is don't stop. Keep going. Persistence is the name of the game here. In most cases, 

once you have a clear plan that will take you from where you are to where you want to 

  1. This final step is about moving forward with persistence, regardless of the 

obstacles you encountered provided, of course, you're always monitoring the feedback 


Ash Roy:

and making sure that things are still on track and that your goals are so feasible. 

You're a failure and rejection affects almost every one of us. And there are many 

ways to address these fears. One is to adopt the principles in the book, the alter 

ego effect, which I discussed with Todd Herman in episode 176, I'll share a link to 

that in the show notes, you can access it at, to make 

sure you don't stop. And that you keep going crazy recommends that you do the 

following, increase your knowledge. We talked about lifelong learning, get enough 

rest. Adequate sleep is probably one of the best productivity hacks out there. And 

probably one of the least used ones from what I could tell, confront your fears, try 

and do something a little bit scary every day. Something that gets you out of your 

comfort zone. And finally, just begin. I remember having a conversation with Seth 

Godin a few years ago, and he suggested in this blog post that you should keep 

blogging every day. And I raised all these objections and I said, oh, but I can't 

write 2000 words a day and I can't do this. And I can't do that in here. All the 

reasons I can't blog every day. And he just responded with two words and said, 

just begin. And that day I wrote this blog post just begin. And I wrote every day for 

that month and it transformed my blog. I couldn't recommend this last bit. Highly 

enough. Just begin. Now, if you follow these 12 steps, you will almost certainly 

achieve every goal you set for yourself provided that goal is realistic and 

achievable. Will it be easy? Heck no. Will it be worthwhile? Heck yes, you got this. 

I wish you all the best. And if you found this video useful, please do subscribe. Now 

I did promise you a special offer worth $497. Here's what I want you to do. I want 

you to go into the comments and within the first 48 hours of this video being 

published, I want you to write down your top 10 goals for this year. I'm going to go 

through all the comments and I'm going to pick the winning comment, make sure that 

your goals are smart goals. So in other words, you set yourself specific, measurable, 

achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. I'll go through all the comments left 

within the first 48 hours and I'll pick a winner and you will receive a free one-hour 

consultation with me valued at $497. I look forward to seeing your comments. Thanks. 

And don't forget to subscribe and share this with somebody else who might benefit.


Ash Roy

Ash Roy has spent over 15 years working in the corporate world as a financial and strategic analyst and advisor to large multinational banks and telecommunications companies. He suffered through a CPA in 1997 and completed it despite not liking it at all because he believed it was a valuable skill to have. He sacrificed his personality in the process. In 2004 he finished his MBA (Masters In Business Administration) from the Australian Graduate School of Management and loved it! He scored a distinction (average) and got his personality back too!