How to set goals for the life you actually want

How do you set your goals? Millionaire and goal-setting extraordinaire, Briana Borten, discusses how to set goals while incorporating structure, sweetness, and space into your calendar.


Briana Borten (@BrianaBorten) is the founder of Dragon Tree Spa and a close, personal friend of mine. She has been on the podcast twice, and featured in many other outlets. Briana describes herself as a “wellness entrepreneur and peace engineer who inspires people to live extraordinary, healthy lives and create what they want.”

Since opening her spas, Briana has ventured out into becoming an author, first with her Dreambook and now with The Well Life book. With her newest book coming out, I asked if she could write a guest post talking all about goal setting, and how we can incorporate, what she describes as structure, sweetness, and space into our daily lives.

Goals: Setting and Getting

Why set goals? Well, you don’t have to. You could just aim yourself in a direction that looks good and see what happens. And if you were an enlightened being, immersed in an experience of divine love, I’d feel silly telling you to make goals. But on the off chance that you’re not quite at that perpetual state of bliss, chances are your happiness is connected to certain needs – for things like challenge and accomplishment, variety and enjoyment, security and approval, purpose and contribution.

Although it’s absolutely possible for you to be happy and fulfilled regardless of your life circumstances, it seems reasonable in the meantime to generate circumstances that are likely to help you meet these needs.

Conscious Goal Setting

Goal setting entails getting clear on what exactly these circumstances are, and it hugely increases the likelihood of achieving them. In addition, conscious goal setting provides an opportunity to chart the course – not just the means by which you’ll get there, but also the quality of your journey.

In our book, The Well Life we introduce three vital elements for building a rich and balanced life: structure, sweetness, and space. When it comes to goal setting, the main element that comes up is structure – the structure that’s going to take you from point A to point B.


Some people need more structure, because their plans tend to be nebulous, unsupported ideas that live entirely in their minds. Reaching a challenging goal through such a plan would be like walking over a canyon on a clothesline.

Others have tons of structure – a job, a web business, affiliate sales, a lemonade stand – but perhaps at the expense of freedom or enjoyment. This kind of structure might be more like a large concrete pipe over that canyon. Pretty sturdy and it gets you to your destination, but not exactly a pleasant path to walk.

The optimal structure is one that gets you to your goal in a way that supports your overall wellness. It’s not too rigid and it doesn’t block out the scenery. Like a sexy work of architecture, it feels organic and intelligent. And it doesn’t just get you to point B, it does so in a way that’s beautiful and fun and encourages you to grow. It’s a structure that integrates your gifts and is in sync with your values.


This is where sweetness and space come in. Sweetness is our term for everything that nourishes your body, mind, or soul – play, self-care, connecting with friends and family, creative expression, and so on. Rather than seeing the sweetness as a reward for a miserable day’s work, we believe it should be integrated into your plans and goals. That way, whether you achieve your goals or not, you’ve already improved your quality of life.

So, before you decide on a goal, ask yourself what would make a thoroughly sweet life for you? When you have some answers, make sure your goals are in line with these qualities. See if you can even find ways to build the sweetness into the structure. Forge a path that involves elements such as sharing your gifts, working with people who are fun and inspiring, appreciating beauty, and enriching yourself.

If it seems there’s no room in your schedule for the sweetness, here are two strategies to explore. First, sweetness isn’t always a stand-alone activity – an important approach to having a sweeter life is learning to discover the sweetness in whatever you do. I promise, it’s there.


Second, try to consciously access space. Even when your calendar is chock full, space is still available. Like sweetness, you can schedule space for the sake of space – meditation, being in nature, time apart from electronics – and you can also learn to tune in to the bigger space. You in the midst of other activity. Take a full, deep breath, feeling it expand you the whole way down into your pelvis, and feel space opening up right now.

The more you deliberately broaden your awareness and slow down to access space, the more clear you’ll get on the fact that you aren’t your mind, and the better you’ll understand how to get your life stuff done with less investment of your personal energy. Space helps us understand ourselves so we can heal and grow, and it’s the antidote to overwhelm.

Time to get practical

Now for some practical ways to refine your structure. When you’ve chosen a goal, start by making a list of all the projects that are necessary for accomplishing this goal (there may be some guesswork here). If your goal is to buy a house, these projects might include finding a real estate agent, organizing your finances, choosing a mortgage broker, etc. After you have defined all the projects, break each project down into a list of all the tasks that are involved.

Each task should be immediately actionable, meaning when you see the task in your calendar, there shouldn’t be any additional mental processing necessary in order for you to know how to act on it. Then you can schedule all the tasks in your calendar, giving each one a start time and an end time so they don’t sprawl.

It’s important to set aside time before each work week during which you assess your list of tasks, plus all the sweetness and space activities you want to incorporate in the week, and get them into your calendar.

Grab that calendar!

Do this in a time and setting when you’re fresh and clear-headed. By scheduling only actionable tasks in your calendar, you’ll be way more efficient during the week because you’ll be able to flow from one task to the next without getting slowed down by analysis. We go into greater detail on this method in The Well Life, but this framework should be enough to get you started.

Last but not least, keep your agreements. Everything you put in your calendar is an agreement – with yourself and maybe with someone else, too. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook when you decide you’d rather not meditate or clean your car, but when you regularly break agreements with yourself, this begins to undermine your self-trust.

When you consider taking on a big goal, your mind is faced with years of evidence that says you’re unlikely to see it through. Further, these broken agreements are like repeatedly telling yourself, “You don’t matter. I don’t respect you enough to keep my agreements with you.”

We explain how to repair this in our book, but for now, here’s the crux of it: Treat agreements with yourself with as much respect as an agreement with someone you care deeply about. Don’t you deserve that? This means not just keeping the agreements you make, but cleaning up the agreements you break, and not making agreements you think you won’t be able to keep.

When you build integrity in this way, you start to generate momentum. In effect, everything you say is going to happen happens. Your word becomes a powerful tool for creation, and achieving goals is just a matter of following the course you’ve charted.

I believe everyone has gifts and a purpose that demand to be shared with the world. I’d love to hear about yours – and your process of bringing them to the forefront of your life.

Be well,

Dr. Peter Borten

Action items:

  1. Define a goal
  2. Make a list of all the projects needed to accomplish that goal
  3. Break each project down into a list of tasks
  4. Put these immediately actionable tasks on your calendar with start and end times/dates
  5. Make sure you are scheduling some sweetness into your activities as well


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Hi Iā€™m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.

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2 responses

  • Thanks Jamie,

    Great set of tips. One quick question: It’s all well and good setting time aside in your calendar but one of the things I regularly find is that I over/underestimate the amount of time needed for a task. This has an adverse impact on the rest of the plans for my day. Any tips on getting around this?

    • Always overestimate šŸ˜‰ Sometimes I tell my clients to double it – it feels way better to be way ahead then to be behind.
      You can always add more smaller tasks after – OR you can relax and meditate and bring your energy back to the next task šŸ™‚

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