A few weeks back, I visited my hometown (yeah, I grew up in Cucamonga, what’s it to ya?) to see my family. Pop still lives in the same house he bought just after WWII, and it’s hard for me not to feel like I’m 15 again when I’m there.

Not that I feel all young and vibrant. Naw. More like I get back in touch with how freakin’ clueless I was for the first half of my life.

It was a great childhood, a gruesome adolescence, and even now ghosts from my past haunt every corner of the neighborhood.

Always interesting/spooky/insightful to go back to old stomping grounds. I love my family. And I’m still chewing over how that town shaped who I am today. In fact, it got me pondering long and hard about what “makes” an entrepreneur.

A lot of people – including me – talk about the value of goals in launching any entrepreneurial venture. Figuring out what you truly want … setting a plan in motion to attain it … and following through.

There is, however, a difference between “understanding” goal-setting behavior … and actually DOING it.

So here is what I propose you do this weekend: Give yourself a brutal reality check.

Are you spending enough time figuring out what you really want to do when you grow up?

This is not a trick question. Most rookie goal-setters need to refine their skills at this over a frustrating period of time.

The first goals you set are likely to be things you actually don’t want, after all. There is an art to looking deep into your own heart and soul and coming to grips with what REALLY rocks your boat … and what will continue to make nice waves in your future.

It’s never enough to want to be “rich.” You must spend time thinking about what “rich” means to you. Not to your buddies or your colleagues or anyone else. You.

And if you decide you want to be filthy rich … well, you’ve got to do more than just set that as a goal. Ya gotta work out your plan to get there. With lots of little goals along the path.

If you’ve yet to make dime one online, for example, then a goal of becoming a billionaire online isn’t a goal … it’s a dream. You’ve got to earn your first buck. Then your second. And go on from there.

Your first goal may be to weed through all the info available out there … find the resources you feel you can trust … and dig in.

Those subsequent “dig in” steps – the actual goal-by-goal stepladder that will take you toward your desired destination – cannot be glossed over.

And there are consequences to consider. You may not yet know what awaits you as a cash-generating genius. But you sure can examine how your life starts to change as you go.

Every detail of your life can morph in strange ways when the money starts coming in. Your friends and family may wrestle (often unsuccessfully) with your rise in status, liquidity, and self-confidence.

It won’t always be pretty. But the more you “arm” yourself with insights like these, the less surprised you’ll be when you hit each milestone in your quest for a better life.

You’ll be … uh, what’s the word? … prepared.

Goals are great. But I’ve known too many people who ONLY set goals. They never go after them.

Movement is key. And you’ll feel better about moving toward your goals if you spend some serious time thinking about them.

Play with them. Mold them. Constantly put them through your “What if?” grinder. (What if you can’t do it with your first idea? Will you try again? Try something else? What?)

The “secret ingredient” of great goal setting is to cogitate obsessively on the consequences of actually meeting each goal once you set it. This not only helps you blow through failure … it also creates a “vision” of yourself that keeps your motivation hot.

This requires “forward thinking” … which doesn’t come with the default equipment you’re born with. Ya gotta exercise it.

Without goals, you’re just being taken for a ride by Fate.

Goals do not guarantee anything … except, once you take steps to attain them, you will move SOMEWHERE new in life. And you’ll be doing as much of the driving as possible.

Fate will still screw with you. But you’ll no longer be helpless.

At first, even five minutes of focused “forward thinking” will make you sweat and want to go do something else.

Get over it. Stick with it. Soon, you’ll be an ace at peering into the fog down the line, and you’ll be able to exert more control over events than you ever dreamed possible in your pre-goal-setting days.

This weekend, get your five minutes in. Move through the sweat and avoidance.

Jumpstart something new.

[Ed. Note: John Carlton is an expert copywriter, a pioneer in online marketing, and a teacher of killer sales copy. He knows marketing inside and out. Discover how to get your hands on the kick-ass secrets of the world’s smartest, happiest, and wealthiest marketers.

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John Carlton

John Carlton slyly refers to himself as “the most ripped-off copywriter on the Web”, and almost no one on the inside of the online entrepreneurial world disagrees. His sales copy has been stalked for decades by many of the best marketers both online and offline… and they freely admit using John’s ads as templates for their own breakthrough pitches.