Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Power Of Setting Goals - Part 1

Goal: An object or result of effort; an end or aim; in a race, the winning post.

Here's the truth: The difference between achieving and not achieving is goal setting. It is the power of purpose. Those who set goals achieve much, those who do not generally achieve little. Successful people have a game plan for life. They know where they are now - where they have been - and where they are going - on a day-to-day basis because winners are goal-and-role oriented. They set and get what they want - consistently.

Did you know that your mind is goal-seeking by design? Whether you realize it or not, we all move in the direction of our currently dominant thoughts - whatever we are dwelling on and thinking of, we are unconsciously moving toward the achievement of. Successful people take the time and exercise the discipline to utilize this miraculous mechanism of the mind - they set goals. People will plan a 2-week vacation to the minute detail - and in most cases the vacations go great - because they were mapped out and put to paper. The sad commentary is most people will plan out their vacations, but not their life.

Have you ever heard the expression "Plan your work, then work your plan"? The sad thing is that when most people hear that, they say to themselves, "What plan?" This is the time of year when everyone should see themselves at a crossroads that can go in the following directions:
1) In circles
2) Backwards
3) Forwards

What will account for the difference in direction? A clear-cut goal for the forthcoming year and an action plan to back it up. In the movie "Alice in Wonderland", Alice comes to the fork in the road and is wondering which way should she go - to the left or to the right. A voice comes from a large tree next to her (which is the Cheshire Cat) asking her, "Where are you trying to go?" To which Alice replied, "I don't know."

The cat responds, "Well, then it doesn't matter whether you go left or right."The problem is not a lack of time, it is a lack of direction. Whether you are a millionaire, or a pauper, we all have the same amount of time in a day. Time is the great equalizer. Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400.00. It carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash on hand, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Spend every cent, of course.

Well, everyone has such a bank. Its name is TIME.

Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against "tomorrow". You must live in the present, from today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success. The clock is running. Make the most of today.

The key purpose of setting goals is self-knowledge. By finding out what you want, you also find out who you are. Finding out what you want may at first sound pretty easy: You want a new car, You want to go to sleep, You want a candy bar, You want to go out on the town. If anything, you may think you'd be better off if you thought a little less about what you want. But knowing what you want on a short-term, day-to-day basis is different from knowing what you want out of your life. This is a whole other exercise. It is scary. In fact, it's so scary that many people purposely keep themselves busy with the wants of life as a means of distracting themselves from facing the goals of life. They build careers, raise families, and go merrily through the motions without ever questioning whether what they are getting is what will really fulfill them.

Why? Many fear self-knowledge will lead them to the conclusion that fulfillment requires dismantling their present life and constructing a new one. People resist change. What they don't know is that the people who have done this successfully, painful as it can be, are among the happiest people on earth. So while setting goals may be scary, it is vitally necessary. If you don't have the courage to pursue your goals, you leave yourself open to the many people who are only too happy to recruit you to pursue theirs.

The best definition of success has been "The progressive realization of goals that are worthwhile to the individual." And that's the key: YOUR goals - not your parents' - not your peers' - YOURS. We all have the potential and the opportunity for success in our lives, and it takes just as much energy and effort for a bad life as it does for a good life - and yet millions of us lead unhappy, aimless lives - existing from day-to-day, year-to-year - confused and frustrated - in a prison of our own making. The losers or underachievers are people who have never made the decision that could set them free. They have not decided what to do with their lives even in our own free society."You have to have a dream if you're going to make a dream come true."

Every Sea Captain knows his next port-of-call, even though he can't see his desired destination for fully 99% of his voyage. He knows what it is, and where it is. And barring an unforeseen catastrophe, he will surely reach it - if he keeps doing certain things in the same way every day. We are the same way - setting goals - one-by-one. In 1953, Yale began a study of the power of goal setting with their Senior Class. 3% of them had written down their detailed goals - 10% of the class had written down some goals, but not in detail, and the other 87% had not written their goals at all.

20 years later, Yale looked at this same class again and evaluated them in the only two measurable areas they could look at, their career and their finances. The 3% that set clearly defined, detailed goals had accomplished more than the other 97% combined.

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