I often write a column the first week in October prompting you, beloved readers, to set your goals for the coming year. I did not do so this year, and while I doubt that this is all my fault, my conversations with so many of you lead me to believe that, even though pretty much everyone knows we need to set goals, you might appreciate some guidance, as some of you seem to have dragged your feet on this essential aspect of success.
Why do we set goals in the first place? It’s based on a simple observation – you can’t hit a target unless you aim at it, and you can’t aim at a target if you don’t know what it is. Outcome clarity is a necessary precondition for accomplishment – not only does it shape your path to achievement, but it reduces the impact of side issues and distractions, as you concentrate on your objective.
A good goal satisfies two vital criteria – first, it must be believable, something you sense that you can indeed get done. In the absence of this distinction, an internal conflict arises out of your self-talk, manifesting as a light argument, a push-me-pull-you that stalls your forward thrust – “I’m taking action! I may not succeed, though. Oh yes I will, watch me. But I don’t really know, do I? I’m going to go for it – yes, but what if I fail,” and so on. This back-and-forth wastes energy and interferes with the very process of goal fulfillment. Get clear on this, and set goals you believe you can complete.
Second, goals must be motivating – they must pull you toward them, with a compelling future that excites you and inspires you to go outside your comfort zone to win.
These two dynamics must co-exist in the proper balance – set the goal too far away, and it may be very motivating, but not that believable. Set it too close, and it’s very believable, but not that motivating. This simple test will verify that you have chosen a goal structure that will meet your standards and lead you to your desired result.
When I set my own goals, I use the 6 P’s format – I reconfirm my statement of Purpose, and then I establish goals in five areas – Personal Goals, Professional Goals, People Goals, Prosperity Goals, and Play Goals. I may have many in each group, but I limit my game plan to three at a time, to maintain focus and intensify my pursuit of excellence.
I prepare my goals for the First of October, and then I check them Thanksgiving Eve, and commit to them New Year’s Eve. I find that when I give my mind 90 days to “cook” my goals, in other words, for my subconscious to work on them, it primes the pump and turbo-charges my actions and behaviors.
Universal law tells us we can’t go back, only forward, so while the best time to set your goals for next year is October 1, the second best time is… right now! Get it done! Put something on paper so you can apply your resources to enhance your position — it literally kick-starts your personal power.
The most successful people throughout history may have had their own styles, their own personalities, and their own crosses to bear – but one consistent quality among them is that they had certainty about what they were trying to do. Write your goals, and you can be one of those successful few, and outperform your previous best.