Why is it important to set goals?
Most people wouldn’t think of going on vacation without 1. deciding where they were going to go and 2. determining the best way to get there. At its most basic, that’s all goal-setting really is. In the absence of goals, we’re likely to end up at a destination in life that falls far short of what we’d like.
Many people have hopes and dreams, but no specific goals and no road map for achieving them. For people who would like to become more goal-oriented, how do end they change their mindsets?
Set a goal to become a goal-setter. That’s not a play on words. Becoming a consistent goal-setter is a learned habit and, as is true with all good habits, having some kind of plan in place significantly increases the odds of success.
What habits do you recommend they adopt?
It’s the entire subject of the classic book, The Common Denominator of Success, by Albert Gray—achievers simply do the things that others will not do (make sure you understand I didn’t say the things that others cannot do).
- Do you plan your day before it begins?
- Have you learned how to take action without regard to whether you feel like it or not?
- Do you evaluate your progress at the end of every day?
- Are you engaged in lifelong learning? Daily reading of personal-development or biographical books is one example.
- Do you habitually give more in value than you receive?
Most people aching to succeed but always coming up short are of the misguided opinion it’s because of some big thing they didn’t do or some big shortcoming they have. The fact is, it’s not either of those. More often than not, it’s the small things they didn’t do. It’s tied to their daily habits.
What specific steps do you recommend for getting started in setting goals?
It all begins with the “Dream.” Or what Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich, called “Desire.” He taught that desire was the beginning of all achievement, and he encouraged us to make it B-I-G. Small dreams or desires aren’t likely to motivate us.
Then create the belief that you can achieve the goal. James Allen wrote in As A Man Thinketh that, “Belief precedes all action.” Until you have the belief, you’re not likely to commit enough of yourself to the goal to overcome the obstacles that almost always appear on our way to success.
Part of creating the belief is identifying and replacing the limiting beliefs we’ve acquired through our previous programming. The ideas that we’re not smart enough, old enough, young enough or talented enough are examples of limiting beliefs.
When the two primary components are in place—the dream and the belief—the remaining steps are simple, technical components.
- With the dream as the basis, create a specific and measurable goal that has a date for achievement.
- Chunk the goal down into actionable steps and activities.
- Create a schedule of the steps and activities necessary to achieve the goal.
- Take Action! Don’t wait to act if you’re not sure of all the steps. Begin and you’ll discover many of the steps as you go. Even the poorest plan with massive action sometimes brings amazing results, while the greatest goal and plan without action yield nothing but frustration and discouragement.
- Set up a schedule for periodic review of your effort, activity and revision of your plan. Expect that your plan will change, and don’t get hung up on the plan. You don’t turn around and go back home if you encounter a detour on the way to your vacation destination. You simply take the detour.
- Tie the accomplishment of the goal to a reward that is meaningful and in proportion to the goal (big goal = big reward). And always claim the reward when you accomplish the goal. Otherwise, it sends the wrong message to the subconscious.
What are some strategies for achieving your goals?
Find someone to be accountable to. A trusted friend or family member who will hold your feet to the fire significantly improves your chance of succeeding.
Join a mastermind group. Not only do you get accountability, but you get the synergistic thinking of the group to help with your goal. If you’re not familiar with this concept, see the chapter that Hill wrote on this concept in Think and Grow Rich.
Find one or more mentors. There are two types of experience— your personal experience and the experience of others. It’s cheaper, quicker and less painful when you can leverage the experience of others.
What if you have one really big goal—say some specific business accomplishment you want to achieve—what do you advise?
Find someone who’s achieved the same goal or something similar. Internet research has made this so easy. Begin a study of them and their methods. If possible, figure out a way to meet them and get around them. Look for the things they did that you can copy. How can you apply your skill or your particular perspective to what they did? How can you make it new, improved or different?
This method is as old as the ancient Greeks and is the shortest route to success.
How do you stay on track to achieving your goals? How do you keep yourself from rationalizing, getting lazy and slipping off track in the pursuit of your goals?
You’ve got to go back to the dream (desire) that we talked about earlier. Hill told us that we should develop a “white-hot” desire. That’s a pretty intense desire, and the kind it takes to push us forward when obstacles and laziness present themselves.
Surround yourself with visual images of the object of your desire. Celebrated Olympian Michael Phelps talks of putting a picture of his biggest opponent on the wall of his bedroom to remind him of his desire to defeat him and claim the gold medal.
It’s even more powerful if you can physically experience the desire, like walking through your dream home or driving your dream car.
Many people battle procrastination, or think they don’t have enough information to get started, or give up if they’ve slipped off track. What strategies would you recommend that would be helpful?
Achievers don’t wait until they have all the information before they decide to do something. They know it’s only important to have enough information to make a decision and act. Since they fully embrace failure, they don’t let fear stop them from taking action on their decision.
Getting into action also increases the likelihood of maintaining action. And that’s supported scientifically by Newton’s Law of Motion: A body at rest tends to remain at rest, and a body in motion tends to remain in motion. It’s the continuing motion that creates momentum or, as it’s fondly called, the “Big Mo.”
Take one thing you’ve been putting off because you didn’t want to deal with it. Things like filing your past-due taxes, getting a physical or dental work, or even cleaning out the garage. Choose some type of reward that you’ll treat yourself to when you’ve reached the goal—make sure the reward is in proportion to the achievement. Make the decision—right now—that you will take some type of action on the goal in the next 24 hours. Then act. The confidence you gain, not to mention the burden that will be lifted, will inspire you to apply the principle to other areas in your life.
Is it important to look back and review your accomplishments and setbacks? Why?
When you’re looking back to identify the lessons—the things that worked and the things that didn’t—it can be a very valuable exercise. All effective goal-setting involves some type of review and reflection.
What advice do you have for people who don’t set goals because they’re afraid they’ll come up short?
You’re coming up a lot shorter by not setting goals. Even if you set 10 goals and came up short on nine of them, you’d still be farther ahead than by not having set any.
Change your view of failure. Instead of seeing it as a final event, see it as a “feedback” event. Use the feedback to make changes in your action plan and go after it again. The refusal to see failure as final is the hallmark of champions in every field.