A few years ago, I found myself at a goal setting impasse. I had all these big ambitions, but making actual progress always felt like an uphill battle. I would set huge goals like “become a famous entrepreneur” or “get broke” but after months my motivation would wear off and I would be right back where I started.

Even worse, it became this demoralizing cycle. I would beat myself up about not achieving those big goals, only to set new ambitious goals and repeat the process – draining my confidence each time. It was like running on a treadmill, putting in tons of effort but getting stuck.

Maybe you can relate. Perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of pouring energy into a goal that initially inspired you, only to have it lose meaning or become rigid when life throws you curveballs. Or you accomplished a big goal but just felt unsatisfied afterward.

Well, let me introduce you to a new approach to setting and achieving goals – the Time Flow System. It has two main components:

  • North stars – Big-picture visions that act as guiding inspirations fueling your pursuit of purpose.
  • Current stages – Concrete, customizable steps marking progress towards your Northstar ambitions.

The concept creates a sustainable, meaningful approach to growth and achievement, rooted in clarity of purpose and flexibility to adapt as circumstances change.

Let’s start with the Northstars. These are the “whys” behind your goals—compelling higher callings that capture your deepest values ​​and aspirations. The effective Northstar paints a rich, motivating picture of how you want to grow and what positive impact you seek to achieve.

For example, “Lose 20 pounds” is an external goal.

But Northstar can be:

“Cultivate vibrant health and energy to be fully present with loved ones and create cherished memories together.”

This transcendent “why” provides much more context and inspiration.

Your Northstars illuminate your long-term trajectory, even when the path is unclear. They are the inspiration fueling your journey of personal growth.

Flowing Milestones are the incremental progress trackers and course markers along this path. Unlike rigid goals with defined start/end points, stages are fluid, allowing you to adapt based on your pace and changing circumstances.

An effective milestone aims to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based (though not necessarily a hard deadline).

For this health-focused Northstar, milestones can include:

“Establish a sustainable meal prep routine by the end of next month”

“Train and complete a 10K within the next 6 months”

The difference from traditional goals? Milestones establish direction while allowing for natural pivots based on new information or changes in your life.

Visions of Northstar pull you forward. Milestones are adaptive signposts, not strict pass/fail checkpoints.

This approach is guided by core philosophies:

  • Clarity of purpose – Bright north stars rooted in your beliefs are essential for sustained motivation. If your goals feel disconnected from who you are, revisit your Northstars.
  • Alignment – While Milestones can be adapted, they should form an intentional sequence that moves you toward your Northstar ambitions and values.
  • sustainability – Time Flow emphasizes creating daily habits and rhythms that you can realistically maintain long-term while making steady progress.
  • Growth mindset – At its core, Time Flow celebrates the journey of continuous growth beyond any particular destination or outcome. A growth mindset sees challenges as opportunities.

Let me highlight some pitfalls of conventional goal setting that the Time Flow system addresses:

Lack of deeper inspiration – Most traditional goals feel disconnected from deeper meaning – they’re just boxes to check off, which makes staying motivated through tough times brutal. Northstars solves this by aligning your biggest goals with your purpose and values. There’s a compelling “why” that energizes you when the going gets rocky.

Rigidity and inflexibility – Old school goal setting puts you in a pass/fail mindset. Life’s twists and turns can ruin anything. Milestones’ seamless adaptability means inevitable changes don’t have to be catastrophic derailments from your Northstar trajectory. You can change while maintaining momentum.

“Obsession with results” over growth – Many fixate on achieving arbitrary results – jobs, fitness goals, income levels – while ignoring the tremendous personal growth unfolding along the journey. Northstars keeps you inspired by life’s greatest potential. But Milestones make this a purposeful journey, celebrating progress above each individual result.

We hope you see how Time Flow evolves goal achievement from an often exhausting process into a purposeful growth adventure. But how do you actually apply it?

Creating bright north stars

Tap into your core beliefs and life visions to form compelling guiding Northstars. The goal is to clearly describe who you aspire to become and the positive impact you want your journey in life to have.

Explore prompts like:

  • “How do I want to dedicate my life’s purpose?”
  • “What principles do I want them to guide their growth?”
  • “How do I want to present myself to my family and community?”
  • “What legacy do I want to leave in my life?”
  • “How can I deepen my presence and contentment?”

Create rich Northstar statements that inspire you every time you revisit them, like:

“To be a lifelong learner, expanding my knowledge to have compelling conversations, connecting meaningfully with others.”

The specifics don’t matter – prioritize Northstars radiating deep personal meaning.

Mapping current stages

With the Northstars set, gradually map important paths that propel you toward those visions. For each, consider a logical sequence of meaningful progress markers and building skills.

Effective milestones should meet the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and containing a sense of time motivation (such as “by Q4 2023”).

For example, to the training-focused Northstar:

  • Read 2 thought-provoking books per month, tracking insights
  • Attend an engaging lecture or course every quarter
  • Organize quarterly dinners to discuss ideas with friends

Notice how the stages create a deliberate sequence, but are not so rigid that the inevitable pivots become catastrophic.

To live the flow of your time

With Northstars inspiring you and the initial milestones set, start integrating your goals into your daily lifestyle and rhythm.

Determine the routine actions required. For creative purposes, maybe it’s scheduling recurring Deep Work windows. For skill-based goals, commit to a rejuvenating morning routine that sets you up for purposeful effort.

Carefully consider optimizing your infrastructure—environment, relationships, routines—to harmonize with your new trajectory. Explore ways to improve accountability through periodic reviews, progress tracking, or leaders.

The Time Flow approach to goals is an ever-evolving lifestyle tuned to steadily generate forward momentum aligned with your deepest goals as your life changes.

Adopting this mindset unlocks profound benefits:

Captivating energy – How often do we feel drained by the lack of deeper meaning? With inspirational Northstars rooted in your highest visions, you will wake up driven by a compelling purpose.

Performance without penalty – When conventional goals explode, we often enter spirals of self-criticism. The timing system allows you to adapt objectively – momentum is the win, not binary pass/fail judgments.

Continued growth and impactAchieving random results devoid of meaning ultimately leaves people unsatisfied. Actively manifesting your greatest callings fuels unlimited growth and positive ripple effects.

Lasting clarity and alignmentMany frames fall apart when they hit the curves in life. But Northstars and Milestones are designed to evolve in harmony with your growth trajectory, not against it.

Unlimited adaptabilityWhen obstacles are used to break momentum, following the Time Flow system offers endless flexibility to creatively adjust based on fresh data without derailing your entire path forward.

The path to your biggest dreams was never going to be easy – that’s the point. Following your deepest callings requires strengthening your character through severe tests of endurance and resourcefulness.

But the Time Flow system allows you to embrace this transformative growth adventure with a sense of joy, harmony, and purpose connected to your core self—rather than through exhausting cycles of unrealistic expectations and self-punishment.

You will definitely be challenged to rise to ever greater heights. But your moment-to-moment experience becomes a purposeful flow, a celebration of progress, and deeply motivating meaning.

So take the time to vividly capture your Northstar visions rooted in your deepest whys. Draw visible milestones to create initial momentum. Optimize your lifestyle to flow in harmony with your goals.

Then just start walking the path, smoothly adjusting your stages according to the life cycles, while relentlessly targeting those who direct the Northstars, illuminating your potential.

Trust that if you stay committed to this never-ending rhythm of growth and impact, you will continually evolve into a bolder version of yourself as you charge a lasting positive legacy.

The Time Flow system can catalyze this profound transition, one motivated step after another. Let the adventure begin!