Setting goals is something I feel very passionate about. I ask that you read this with an open mind and decide today that you are ready for something to change in your life. Reading this for fun won’t get you anywhere, instead read to learn and change…
If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
That’s an old quote I know, but it’s also very true. Goals are a valuable tool to any success kit. I have been using goals for many years, but it wasn’t until the past few months that I really put into practice the whole idea of what I now call “Goal Management”.
Goals are things. They are real, they exist, and they need to be cared for, treated with respect, honored, and nurtured. When I first began making goals I would sit for 10 minutes and think of 3 or 4 giant crazy things I wanted to accomplish and write them down. I would then put them away and not touch them again for months, usually finding some way to justify my lack of action to reach my goals.
You see, goals aren’t goals unless they are followed by action. Truly, goals should follow action. It’s much easier to already be doing something and then set goals than to set goals and set out to accomplish them. This doesn’t mean you have to already be doing something before you set goals, but it is easier to start with something you are already working on.
Let’s say you want to be an author. Let’s be totally random here. 😉 Let’s say you want to be a Children’s author and you’ve been working on it. You take classes, devote time each day to writing, read other author’s works, and submit your writings for publication. You’re already doing pretty good, aren’t you? So what can you do next? Decide on definite outcomes you want to see happen and write them down. That is a great definition of goals:
Goals are definite outcomes you have envisioned, imagined, and created.
But, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, goals are not goals unless they come attached with deadlines and plans to achieve the goal. Imagine if a football coach made the goal of beating the division rival. He writes it down, reads it everyday, and tells everyone he meets that this year his team is gonna win the Rivalry game. Somebody asks him what his game plan is and he says, “I don’t know, we’ll figure it out when we get there, but trust me we’re gonna win it!” Even worse, what if he doesn’t hold regular practice with the team, run plays, decidie who’s going to start, or choosing the starting quarterback. Even with all the positive attitude, hoping, wishing, and intending, if there isn’t action backing your goals, you have nothing.
In the book of James the same concept is put this way:
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? (2:14)
So let’s get back to our Children’s Author. Decide on a definite outcome you want to happen and write it down. Let’s pick one here for an example.
Within 6 months, I will have at least 1 short story published in a Children’s Magazine.
Now you have to follow that up with action. Work harder on your stories; send out more manuscripts for publication, etc. You will find that having a deadline will make you work harder and try other routes you might not of thought of before. Good “self pressure” can work miracles on your actions.
Now back to me. What finally changed in me that caused me to write goals down, follow up on them, and even accomplish them? I’m sure you’ve heard the old parable:
When the Student is ready, the Teacher appears.
I’m sure that was a big part of it, but also I realized that goals are alive and they deserve my attention. I don’t take goal setting very lightly. I usually end up working through 3 or 4 versions of my goal sheet before I settle on the final draft. I also hold myself accountable if I don’t grow closer to reaching my goal each day. This goes back to the “self pressure” principle. I believe that goals are reached one day at a time, one choice at a time. You don’t have to always do the right thing; you just have to make the right choice right now. If you always make the right choice right now, you’ll reach any goal you want with relative ease.
So goals are important to success, but how exactly should they be structured? There are entire books, conferences, and other material dedicated to that topic, but don’t go spending your money just yet. In my next article I’ll write a step by step guide to goal setting that works. Check back soon for the article!