Posted by: brandextenders | December 26, 2013

Goals that aren’t Written are Simply Wishes

(This is an edited version of a previous blog. I recently sat down to write the “story” I’ll use to embed my goals into my mind and trust this is useful for you as well.) 

I hate resolutions. They are usually hard, difficult things I don’t really want to do. The sales guru, Jeffrey Gitomer sums up my feelings; “Not that I’m against resolutions, but they seem to have a negative connotation. Take off something (weight). Fatten something (wallet) quit something (smoking, eating, drinking). All either negative or too challenging to ever accomplish.” Instead of resolutions, I sit down at this time each year and develop my goal story for the coming year.

Earl Nightingale says “Goals are the pursuit of a worthy ideal” and goals must be defined with a beginning and an end otherwise they can become exercises in futility. I’ve worked out early in the mornings for many years and while I may not like getting up that early (5:15am) I truly feel better the rest of the day. Like clockwork every January hoards of new people start showing up at the gym early to exercise vowing to keep their New Year’s resolution and get fit. Within a month people are dropping like flies and by three months, perhaps just 1% of those who started are still sweating it out each morning.  That’s a resolution gone awry.

Got GoalsCall it semantics, but the word “goal” is more concrete for what I want to accomplish and goals should be concrete to help us focus our daily tasks in such a way as to reach them. Instead of saying, “I want to make more money next year” break down how much and how you plan to make it. Let’s say you’re in sales and you decide you want to make $20,000 more next year. If you work 49 weeks a year, that’s 245 days and if you divide the $20K by 245 you find you only need to earn an extra $82 per day to reach your goal. Easy peezy, huh?

Here are four things I’ve learned over time to do as I write-up my goals for the coming year:

  1. Most importantly for me, I write them as though they have already happened. This is what I call my “goal story.” The sub-conscious is a funny thing and it can’t differentiate between whether something is true of not. It sounds crazy, but if you read something over an over again as though it already happened the subconscious will work to ensure it happens. No guarantees, but numerous studies have shown people with written goals are more likely to succeed over those who simply have a goal or two in mind. Every day, close your eyes for a few moments and visualize yourself having achieved your goals. Seeing yourself in that new job or 20 lbs. thinner or with that extra $20,000 will give you confidence to keep plugging away. It can be easy to lose focus and get frustrated and visualizing your goals keeps you on track and moving forward.
  2. As noted above, goals need to be concrete. I want a new job or I want to lose weight are too vague. Decide exactly what kind of job you want, see it in your mind and see yourself performing the work. Same with losing weight. How much weight do you want to lose and how will you do it? Become a runner, work out three times a week, buy a treadmill? Be specific and make sure you…
  3. Write your goals down. As noted in #1, this is important for several reasons including helping you clarify what you want and giving you something visual to reference. Goals you don’t write down are simply thoughts in your brain and if yours is anything like mine, things tend to get lost up there. Another reason to write them down is so you can…
  4. Read your goals several times a day. When you’re fresh in the morning, read over your goals to remind yourself what to focus on each day. Keep several copies of them in different places at home and at work so you can reference them throughout the day. This will help burn them into your brain and keep them top-of-mind.

As religion has its atheists, so too goal setting has disbelievers, those who think setting goals can be counterproductive. One such soul is Ray Williams, author of several books wrote an article called “Why Goal Setting Doesn’t Work.” His premise is the brain is resistant to change and goals, especially those that require substantial change, will be ignored by the gray matter in our heads and may even de-motivate us.

Commercial airlines don’t take off from an airport without a detailed flight plan of how they will get to their destination. The same with ships leaving port, so why would we not also have a plan of how to get from where we are to where we want to go? Without one we are like a cork on water, bobbing about with the pull of the tides. And at the risk of my brain going rogue on me, I’ll take the path of setting goals, referring to them every day and praying the tides are in my favor. How about you?

Author Steve Maraboli sums it up for me: “If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal – you have a wish.” Happy New Year and may all your goals come to pass.

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Responses

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