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Upscaling Life: A Pragmatist’s Guide to Setting and Achieving Personal Goals

Upscaling Life: A Pragmatist’s Guide to Setting and Achieving Personal Goals

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Upscaling Life: A Pragmatist’s Guide to Setting and Achieving Personal Goals

261 pages
2 hours
Nov 5, 2020


In Upscaling Life you will learn how to create a life plan and set personal goals the right way. The author developed a model for personal development based on highly successful growth models and strategies for the business world.

And every reader receives these downloadable growth models for FREE with every copy purchased.

The book explains the model for personal development in a clear, structured and practical way. Everyone at any point in their life can use these models, strategies and tips for self-growth.

Scientific studies are described to explain why setting personal goals work. And positive psychology concepts are used to tie it all together. This combined with tips & tricks on how to improve your journey towards goal success guarantees that you will find some elements to help you reach the life you envision.

By setting goals, we create a roadmap of toward where we want to go, and we discover the right way to get there. French philosophical giant Michel Foucault once said:

"I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning."

Nov 5, 2020

About the author

Bert Bakker has been in charge of business development at several 'scale up' companies, and is now a freelance business consultant. And he shares his model for personal development to anyone interested, to help them set and achieve personal goals.

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Upscaling Life - Bert Bakker


A Pragmatist’s Guide to Setting and Achieving Personal Goals

By Bert Bakker

Copyright © 2020 by Bert Bakker. All rights reserved.


Everyone has dreams. Some are easily achieved, and some require more energy than others. When we reflect on our dreams, and combine them with our personal values, we are already on our way to setting life goals and mapping the way to personal growth.

In this book, I will introduce a personal-growth model already being used in business settings, adjusted and adapted for personal development. I include goal-setting theories and actionable strategies — using positive psychology concepts — to help you tie it all together. I’ll explain studies on human nature, and how goal-setting and self-improvement affects our well-being.


By setting goals, we create a roadmap of toward where we want to go, and we discover the right way to get there. French philosophical giant Michel Foucault once said:

I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.


Growth model spreadsheets

You can apply these personal-growth models to your own life goals using the specially developed spreadsheets included with this book. Didn’t receive the spreadsheets? Download them for free at upscalinglife.com.

Table of Contents



1. Finish the Past

Measuring Backwards

Core Competencies

2. Believe in Opportunities

Your Beliefs Shape Who You Are

Overcome Limiting Beliefs

Action Board

3. Find your Why

What is Your Why?

Core Values

Personal Mission

4. Plan your Future

One Page Life Plan

Ever-changing Evolvement as a Person

5. Set Personal Goals

Key Principles of Goal-setting

How to Use the Personal Goals Spreadsheet

6. Objectives & Key Results

OKR in Business

OKR for Personal Use

How To Use the OKR Spreadsheet

7. Take Action

A Journey is Made of Many Steps

Know Exactly How Far Along You Are

Align Your Environment with Your Goals

Focus on Getting Better Instead of Getting Good

Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate!

Helpful Tools

8. Manage your Time, Priorities and Energy

Time Management

Priority Management

Energy Management



Appendix A – Example list core competencies

Appendix B – Example list core values

Appendix C – Helpful Apps

Appendix D – Recommended books



I am a millennial, and I go through all the problems typically associated with people my age. We grew up with the idea that anything and everything is possible. But the vast array of options has led to widespread dissatisfaction: we tend to never be satisfied with the things we achieve, always wanting more. After becoming dissatisfied with a job, I quit — having no idea what I wanted to do next.

But I had big plans for the future — a family, a house, a white picket fence. The pressure was on, and I knew my next move — or moves — had to be good ones. My vision of my future depended on it.


It wasn’t until I sat down and created a real roadmap for myself that it all started to fall into place. Scientific studies show that setting personal goals and creating a life plan — rather than just having an image in your head — increases your chances of success. For me, mapping out my own path gave me peace of mind and new insights into my behavior. It helped me realize that the dreams I have for my life are within reach. My advice? Take charge of your own roadmap. Sit down and make a plan!


I have set goals for myself and made plans according to a growth model I created myself, based on models proven to grow, or upscale companies. In this book, I will guide you through these models and show you everything you need to know about setting and achieving goals for yourself as you set out on your unique journey toward personal success.


What are personal goals?

Personal goals are the things we want to achieve in our lives. They are much more meaningful than the basic things we need to do to survive. Unlike short-term objectives and daily routines, long-term life goals drive our actions and attitudes over a longer period.

Because all life goals are personal, these ambitions can take a variety of forms. They lay the foundation for a unique sense of direction and serve as a guide as we seek happiness and well-being.

Psychology refers to personal goals as action plans we set for ourselves — action plans to guide us toward the right decisions at the right times. Edwin Locke, a pioneer in the field of goal-setting and creator of the SMART acronym, performed a study on working professionals, and found that individuals who had set ambitious goals for themselves had a better performance and output over those who did not set goals.


Why should we set personal goals?

Almost all of us have dreams. We know what we want to try, and what makes us happy. We might have a vague idea how we can achieve those dreams. Setting personal goals and creating a concrete plan can be beneficial in helping us along the path toward success.


Setting goals can promote happiness

When goals are based on personal values, they have meaning to us. Purposefully striving for something bigger and better is a key element in the happiness theory in psychology. Along with positive relationships, achievements, emotions and engagements, it contributes to what we think of as the good life.

Personal goals are the things we envision for ourselves beyond our daily existence. They can be pursued in unique and personal ways — and provide a sense of fulfillment when we get them. According to 2016 research from Ryan & Huta, just the act of striving to achieve goals can sometimes lead to happiness.


Goals encourage us to use our strengths

When we look at what matters most to us, our passions and inner strengths become clear. Setting personal goals and action plans for ourselves is beneficial on its own. But using our personal strengths to get to these goals brings a whole new set of benefits.

Several studies have shown that using your strengths can increase self-confidence (Crabtree, 2014), encourage our engagement (Sorensen, 2014) and promote feelings of satisfaction and good health (Proyer, 2013). Utilizing strengths in pursuit of goals is a good thing for well-being.


Goals can clarify our behavior

The theory of goal-setting developed by Edwin Locke places intentions at the center of behavior. The very act of goal-setting directs our attention to how, why, and what we want to achieve. This shifts our intentions toward these goals, increasing focus and motivation.

Merely writing down and recording your goals is not enough to generate the kind of drive that leads to success — but it gives you something to commit to. By writing down and acknowledging your goals, you can take appropriate actions in your efforts to achieve them.


Goals allow us feedback

If we set a plan for ourselves, we can assess where we are, and take note of the progress we make. We can even chart this progress and development. This visual feedback gives us the insight necessary to adjust our behavior. When the feedback is positive, our brains release dopamine, giving us an instant physical reward.

By opening ourselves up for feedback, we can assess and re-align our behaviors. Doing so keeps us on track to achieve long-term goals and improve the chances of success.


Why do we need to write it down?

We’ve all heard it before, but writing down your goals actually does help you achieve them. People who write down and describe their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish them than people who don’t.

Writing down your goals can seem like extra work when you already have a clear view of them in your mind. How does writing it out help? When you write down your goals, you do it on two levels: external storage and encoding.


External storage is the act of storing the information about your goal in an external location — for example, in a spreadsheet. You can access it easily and review it when you please. You can print it out and hang it up on your refrigerator. You do not have to be a neuroscientist to understand that it’s much easier to remember something when it is in front of you every single day.

Encoding is a deeper phenomenon — a biological process. When you write things down, your brain (and more specifically, the hippocampus) analyzes this action. The brain decides what information is stored in the long-term memory, and what will be discarded. Writing in general improves this process. When you write down your goals, the chances are higher that you will remember them.


Neuropsychologists have defined a phenomenon called the generation effect. Studies have shown that individuals demonstrate a better memory from things they have created themselves over things they have read. When you write down your goals, you trigger this generation effect twice:

The moment you come up with your personal goal and create a mental image of it in your head.

The moment you write it down, reprocessing that image.


Multiple studies have shown that writing something down improves your chances of remembering it. A lot of studies were held among students taking notes in classes. And in a more recent study researchers looked at people conducting interviews with job applicants.

When the researched interviewers took notes during interviews, they were able to recall about 23% more of the information discussed, compared with subjects who did not take notes.


Writing it down improves recall of information that’s truly important, as demonstrated in a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology in 1994 by Paul Foos. Everyone remembers teachers saying, This will be on the test!

The study found out that students who did not take notes remembered just as many unimportant facts (not on the test) as important facts (on the test). The students who took notes remembered more important facts and fewer unimportant facts. Writing things down helps you remember key points more effectively and activates your brain to focus on the important stuff.


Applying a business model to a personal plan

It’s been proven by science time and time again: if you want a better chance of achieving the goals you set for yourself, you need to map out a plan of action. There are all kinds of different models and methods to do this. So why should you follow the guidelines in this book? Let me tell you part of my story.

I had been at a company for almost 10 years, helping it grow from just a few guys working in an attic room to a market leader. But as growth slowed, so did my fulfillment working there. Long story short, I said goodbye — and after a short sabbatical, I started searching for a new challenge.

I figured this would a very relaxing experience, and I was surprised at how stressed out I became. I thought it would be great to have a fresh start —to be able to choose a totally new career path out of the countless options available. But the anxiety caused by the sheer number of options available to me left me paralyzed — I couldn’t decide on what was right for me. Every day, I found dozens of jobs that could be fun, but I had no idea which direction to go.

I had a general long-term goal in mind for myself — but it was hard to figure out what logical steps to take in the short term to get to that long-term vision.


I had a minor breakthrough during a forest walk: I realized I could put one of my best skills to use. In my working life, I’m very good at making plans and crafting strategies for growing corporations — focusing on setting and achieving goals. Why not apply this talent to developing a growth plan for my personal life?

The problem? My knowledge revolved around models and theories designed for growing and scaling companies or projects in a business setting. I decided to do an experiment to see if I could revise these strategies to work on a personal level.


Right away, I recognized the obvious differences. Companies are made up of teams of people working on the same goals, whereas a personal plan is a solo effort. And corporate strategies are by necessity formulated in a way that motivates both internal and external stakeholders.

But I was surprised at how easily the most-used business models could be used for a personal plan. It took some reworking, but a lot of the elements stood their ground. For example, both companies and individuals have a better success rate in achieving goals when they set goals that closely align with their values and their competencies. And the overall life cycle of a company isn’t that different from that of people.


Start-ups need to figure everything out — and they gain experience and insight along the way. This is a lot like the trial-and-error processes humans go through in their early years.


Scale-ups have some experience, have a global sense of what they are good at, what they stand for as a company, and what their ambitions are. They need to tie all those things together with a good strategy to make them the biggest and best company they can be — just like adulthood, when we have figured out our skills and ambitions. We have an overall sense of where we want to go in life, what we are good at, and what we enjoy doing. To experience the best life possible, we need to use our skills, talents, and passions in

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