The Similarities Between Goal Setting and Writing Your Life Story

Ryan Eidson  —  June 20, 2014

What is it that you want for your future? When you are goal setting, what do you want to achieve?


Photo source flickr user: Angie Torres | cc

On Wednesday I posted a review of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Today’s post is inspired from my reading of that book.

When I compare story and plot with vision and goals, I see a big parallel.

A well-crafted goal, a target to shoot for, grants meaning to your day. If you wander around aimlessly, wondering what to do, you don’t have a sense meaning or purpose, right?

“It’s true that while ambition creates fear, it also creates the story. But it’s a good trade, because as soon as you point toward a horizon, life no longer feels meaningless. And suddenly there is risk in your story and a question about whether you’ll make it. You have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.” —A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, p. 113

Allow me to explain with a chart.

Below I compare Zig Ziglar’s General Goals Procedure Chart (page 9 in this PDF) with Donald Miller’s definition of story, as well as an abbreviated form of Christopher Vogler’s Hero’s Journey:

Zig Ziglar Donald Miller Hero’s Journey
Identify your goal A character who wants something Call to adventure
Your benefits to reaching this goal (Why does the character want it?) Threshold and entrance into new world
Major obstacles and mountains to climb to reach this goal Who overcomes conflict Adversity, enemies, ordeal, conflict
Skills, knowledge, individuals, groups, companies, and organizations to help you reach this goal Allies
Plan of action to reach this goal Plot
Completion dates To get it (Projected) Return with elixir

Wow! Look closely at the sequence of each of the three systems in the chart above. Do you now see the similarities between goal setting and writing stories?

When you are goal setting, you’re writing a new direction for your life story!

What other correlations can you make between goal setting and creating a story?

Do you have a clear idea of what you want?

“It made me wonder if the reasons our lives seem so muddled is because we keep walking into scenes in which we, along with the people around us, have no clear idea what we want.” —ibid.

If you want to live a better story, read/listen to/watch better stories. Set different goals.

Where you end up is your choice.

Do you have some big goals you’re working on, or are you walking around in a haze?

Ryan Eidson


I have the unique ability to make complex ideas easy to understand. I am the author of A Couple with Common Cents and live in rural Missouri.