This week I want to discuss something I have been doing in earnest since I was fired from my job of almost 26 years. Setting and Achieving Goals. I came across this concept many years ago, and like Journaling it is something that I should have been doing all along.
To many of you, this may be an idea that you are already very familiar with. However, I had not run across this concept when I was young. It wasn’t until I read the classic “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, that the notion of Goals, as a defined course of action, was presented to me.
All of us are familiar with the concept of setting and achieving goals, but not in such a structured format. I use the example of learning to tie your shoes. Every child wants to learn how to tie his or her shoes. Little Bobby defines the goal, tying his shoes, and he gets to work on achieving that goal. He learns a series of movements or actions steps he must take to achieve his goal. He pictures himself tying his shoes and with practice before he knows it, he has tied his shoes.
The previous example is a very simple one, but the principle is the same. To quote that great Jedi Philosopher Yoda, “Size matters not!”. Regardless of the size of your goal, the formula is the same. I am going to give you an overview of this concept, along with some resources where you can learn more.
“Psycho-Cybernetics” sounds very robotic, but what it means is “putting your mind to work on reaching your goals”. Much of the book is about improving your self-image, but I found the part about using your “goal-striving mechanism” or “success mechanism” to chart your course in life very interesting.
I am going to keep this overview very “high-level”. Listed below are the basics of goal setting and achievement and why each is so important. At the end of this article, I will list a number of resources that I have found helpful in getting me to set and achieve my goals. Let’s get started!
- Your first step is to “Define Your Goal”. What is it you want? You really need to think about this. Do you want to make more money? How much do you want to make and how are you going to go about getting it?
- Is your goal in alignment with your Values? Sure, everyone wants more money, but most of us are not willing to rob a bank or knock over a liquor store to get it!
- What are the “Action Steps” you need to take in order to achieve your goal? In the example of tying your shoes, put the shoes on your feet (check), cross the laces (check), make the rabbit go into the hole, or make bunny ears, etc. (check). You get where I am going with this. Every step you take to achieve your goal should be written down, no matter how big or small.
- Start working towards your goal! You will find that breaking your goal down into small, manageable steps will make reaching it that much faster. You will also find just STARTING to work on the goal will often create a series of coincidences (some verging on the weird) that are necessary for you to achieve your goal. Picture Indiana Jones taking the “Leap of Faith” in The Last Crusade. You have to take that first step!
If you read my article about Journaling, in it I mentioned you should review the previous week’s entries. This will show any items that may have been skipped on a particular day. These items may have been Action Steps toward one of your goals that occurred to you while writing in your Journal, but they didn’t make it into your Goal Plan.
One crucial step in the Goal Process I left out is “Defining Your Dreams”. That is a whole seperate subject, but it needs to be done before setting any goals. I left it out because it is a much larger concept and I wanted to keep this article about the mechanics of goal setting and achieving. However, any book or resource about Goals that doesn’t start with Dreams should be avoided!
The importance of goals cannot be under-estimated. I heard about a study, done many years ago, involving recent Harvard Graduates. They were all asked what goals they had for their life.
- 84% said they had no specific goals, except to kick back and enjoy themselves over the summer.
- 13% had goals for their future but they were not written down.
- 3% of the students had written goals to chart their future.
Ten years later, the 13% of students who had unwritten goals were making twice as much as the 84% who had no goals. The 3% of students who had clear, written goals were making ten times as much as the other 97% put together! The 84% of students with no goals are working for students who had written or unwritten goals!
I have heard that you can take a homing pigeon, put it in a box, drive a thousand miles in any direction, open the box, and it will circle 3 times, then fly straight to it’s starting point or “Home”. The only one other “animal” on this planet with this “goal-striving mechanism” is the human being. Pretty cool, huh? However, it’s always good to have Google Maps.
The one thing I have NEVER been able to understand is why the Goal Process is not taught as a course of study in grade school, high school, or college. What other subject is more important in helping you get to where you want to go in life? For some reason, academia has decided that kids will “pick it up” as they go along with their studies. How? Have you ever been “educated” on the steps I have listed above? If we truly want our youth to excel in life, these lessons need to be taught and reinforced at every grade level!
I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Here are the resources I mentioned on the subject of Goals:
Maxwell Maltz: He was a Plastic Surgeon who realized that sometimes fixing someone’s face didn’t fix their life.
Napoleon Hill: He is an oldie but a goodie. He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to interview the top businessmen of the age and discover their secrets! The resulting book was Think and Grow Rich! The number one secret? Goals!
The University of Motivation put together a list of the Top 100 Goal Setting Books!
The software that I use to track my goals is ToDoList by AbstractSpoon. It can be downloaded for free at Download.com. It is not a web-based product, but it is invaluable in organizing and keeping track of your goals! I recently discovered a great website that will allow you to track your goals online, for FREE! Goal-Buddy is an excellent way to log your Goals, Habits, and Tasks, to keep you on target. Plus, since it is online, you can access your goals from your PC, Phone, or Tablet. Unfortunately, the website isn’t Mobile on your phone or tablet, but it is pretty easy to use anyway. I highly recommend it!
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