Goal setting is a dangerous proposition. Productivity is of great interest to me and, truthfully, I accomplish quite a bit each year, but I often suffer from the distraction of the urgent/interesting/fun over those things that could/would provide lasting life benefits and improve my quality of life if only I had the self-mastery to focus on them sufficiently.

As the new year dawns, I've been looking for atypical approaches to goal setting and ways to improve the art of lifestyle design. Here are a few of the best.

4 Unusual Goal Setting Ideas

#1 Set Goals for the Life You Actually Want

Rather than looking at all the things you think you want to do, look at the desired end result and work backward. This is the same principle I teach in the homeschooling arena — end result desired, general, flexible long-term goals, yearly goals, etc. — so one I heartily endorse.

Read these three critical steps to setting the kinds of goals that actually motivate and move us forward.

[As an aside, if you're entrepreneurial at all and you're not subscribing to Fast Company, do it now. This is the most interesting, practical business publication I've found. I could link to a lot more great goal-setting articles they've produced, such as: How to Set Goals that Will Keep You Fulfilled and Focused; Making Resolutions Almost Always Fails; Try This Instead; Why Setting Goals Could Wreck Your Life; The Two-Step Process for Getting Your To-Do List Down to Zero; etc. Consistently good stuff.]

#2 Read Something that Moves You

If you're discouraged and out-of-sorts, give yourself a boost. Read something that motivates you and makes you want to dig into life again! Some ideas:

What are the books (fiction or nonfiction) that have most motivated you to reach your potential?

#3 When a Goal Becomes Obsolete, Let It Go…Let It Go…

When I was 20 I decided that I wouldn't get married at least until I was 26 and had a master's degree. Period. Then I got married at 21 and after I walked through convocation and received my bachelor's degree, my plan got rather complicated by real life.

Still, I kept the master's degree in the back of my mind. Once Sam was hooded with the blessed PhD and was settled as a professor in a Florida university and I was raising three little girls, I revisited my old master's degree plan.

Upon serious evaluation, I realized that the only reason I wanted to get a master's degree was so that I could tell other people I had a master's degree. Given the opportunity cost and possible payoff (assumed credibility?), I decided it wasn't worth the price, at least at that time.

Often our goals shift and change depending on our circumstances. Pay attention to those life shifts and accommodate them.

 #4 Use a Goal System

Let's face it. Some of us — I dare say most of us — allow the turbulent waters of life to carry as along haphazardly where it will. We are busy, always, but mostly putting out fires or doing the thing that is most boldly glaring in our faces.

Another approach is to live with purpose, with the end in mind, by forging our own path, not the path of least resistance. The proverbial road less traveled. That is never done by change, but by design. If you need help with the design, get it! The 100 Day Challenge is one such system. I've worked through the entire program myself and recommend it.

Excellence is a Choice Video - 100 Day Challenge