To highlight this importance of goal setting, I want to quote the great Yogi Berra. He said, “You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” So having a goal is the all important starting point, but what about theories surrounding setting goals? There have been lots of good and bad theories surrounding what goals should be are and how to best set them. Personal development material going back to the 1950’s suggested that in order to achieve a goal, you must really desire deep in your core to do so, or it will never happen. My question is, you may have a goal to pay your bills on time each month or to clean the garage. Do you really have a deep desire for cleaning the garage in order to achieve that goal? I can see where it could act like motivation, but most people really don’t like cleaning their garage! Bottom line is, desire is nice, but there is method to the madness of goal setting and to demystify, I wanted to point out some very good facts, or truths if you will about setting goals…
So, without further delay, here are 10 Essential Truths About Goal Setting!
1: Goal Setting is a Skill
A skill is something we can learn. Most of us have not developed this skill and thus fail at goal setting. It’s like learning how to drive a car, the more we practicet, the better we become at it.
2: Small Goals are More Important Than Big Goals
The big goal is nice, and it’s the ultimate, but it’s the smaller goals that get us to that ultimate goal. It’s like building a home. Beam by beam, hanging sheet rock and installing furniture and hanging pictures. Then finally you’re sitting on the couch in the living room looking around and your like ‘all this used to be just an empty lot’. Small steps, small goals, that’s how it all gets done.
3: All Goals MUST be Written Down
If it is not written down, it’s not a goal. If it’s not written down, only 3%-6% achieve the goal. If you do write it down, the percentage goes up to 60%-80%. Only fewer than 3% of us write our goals down. We depend on chance and luck – a formula for failure. Goals are precise targets that we aim for. Without the goal, where do we aim (hence the Yogi-ism)? No goals = no plan = higher % of failure. With goals = definite direction and higher % of achievement.
4: Written Goals Should Begin With the Word To
To land a new job as a manufacturing supervisor by January 31, 2015. To have my children’s school lunches and clothes picked out each night before I go to bed. To find 5 ways to save $200 a week by this Friday. Goals are objectives.
5: All Goals MUST be Dated
This shows that we are committing to achieve the goal by a certain time. Without a due date, how do you know when the steps need to be done by? Without a date, there can be zero commitment!
6: Goals Should be Written to be Changed as Necessary
This is so important, because most people feel like failures if they don’t achieve their goal exactly when they originally set the date for. As I just mentioned, although the due date is an important element that helps up to gauge our actions and commit, the goal itself is the important thing. More importantly, don’t let the passing of the due date become an excuse to quit. Instead, think about and analyze your next steps and set another date. What happens if you fall short again? Well like I said earlier, this is a skill that needs to be learned. If today was your first driving lesson and your driving instructor said, ‘Your goal is to learn to perfectly drive this car following each and every law by the next hour. If you don’t you will never be allowed to drive a car again!” What would be your first reaction? You might feel a little pressured and scared right? What should you do at this point? You MUST defy the instructor. You MUST tell them, ‘if I don’t get it right by tomorrow, I will keep on driving until I get it right.’ Or, you can tell him ‘it was nice to meet you, but I’m getting a new driving instructor…have a nice day!’ Either way, you keep doing what is necessary to achieve the goal. Remember, the deadline is not the key, it’s the goal. Your goal is a written statement of the choices you’re making in your life. If you want to reach these goals, they must be set with tolerance. Life happens. Track, adjust and you will increase your shot at ultimately achieving your goals. In the words of John Wooden, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” Have the courage to persist!
7: All goals are steps to other goals
No goal is ‘IT’. There is no final goal. Each goal is a step to something else. Where does the goal lead you to? For example, if your goal was to graduate college, is that the final goal? Of course not! Your next goal could be to maximize what your achievement of earning your college degree can provide to you in each way possible. Once those goals are achieved, there would be another goal and so on. Like George Bernard Shaw said, “I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.”
8: A Goal Plan Always Includes the Obstacles and Action Steps
The obstacles must be clearly identified and dated action steps written to move forward. Without planning to overcome the obstacles, we don’t commit to do so, and thus fail to act. Without action, there is no achieving the goal.
9: The Action Steps are More Important Than the Goal Itself
To reach the goal, you must follow the steps. The goal is the target, but the steps are the catalysts and guides. They ignite and fuel the fire that powers you through to the achievement of the goal. As you complete each step, your self-esteem and confidence grows and step by step, just like driving the car, or riding the bike or like when a baby takes it first steps towards it’s mother from a few feet away and gets to her arms, we get stronger and stronger and finally achieve our goal. All that by taking it just one step at a time.
10: Tracking Your Goals on a Schedule is a Must
If you don’t track your goals, they simply get forgotten. This is the only way to know where you are. Check the map. How far or close are you to your final destination? What adjustments are needed? Have any additional obstacles come up that you need to deal with? What are your action steps for those? Do you need to adjust your action step due dates? Make the necessary changes and move on until you get to the end.
As you can see, goal setting is quite a task, but with some practice, the skill can be mastered! What if you fail to describe exactly what you want? Will you ever get it? Can goal setting increase your chances of getting what you really want in life? If you do choose to set goals and go for them, I hope that these 10 truths about goal setting can give you an edge!