Aim for the top. There are so few at the top that it is almost lonely up there.
J. C. Penney said, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I’ll give you someone who will make history. Give me someone without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.” How true! Few things in life are more powerful than goals.
Look at the Japanese people. After a devastating defeat in World War II, the Japanese leaders in government, business, and industry said, “Let’s set a goal. Let’s become the number one nation in the production of textiles. And let’s do it in a decade.” And they did it.
In 1960, the Japanese set the impossible goal of becoming the number one nation in the production of steel. An impossible goal you might think, because Japan had no iron, coal, or oil. But they did it again.
In 1970, they set another 10-year goal — to become the number one nation in the production of automobiles. They did it again, although it took them one year longer than they expected, achieving their goal in 1980.
Then in 1980, they established the goal of becoming the leader in the production of electronics and computers. You know what happened there.
From my 34 years of work as an educator and professional speaker, I can tell you — absolutely, unequivocally — if you don’t have specific, written goals for your life, you are not getting what you could be getting out of life. You’re cheating yourself, your family, and your organization.
So ask yourself, “Do you have all your goals figured out and written down?” Most people don’t. In fact, most people, more than 90% of them, have never taken the time to figure out and write down their goals. They’re just drifting along.
Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said people could be divided into two groups — the Drivers and the Drifters. They’re either alert or inert, creators or creatures, lifters or leaners.
Of course, you may wonder what’s the big deal about goals. Why do you have to have goals? There are two reasons.
=> First, without clearly defined goals, you won’t have as much energy.
You’ll be lacking in the motivation department. After all, there’s no reason to be pumped up if you’re not going anywhere in particular.
It’s like the little boy who asked, “Grandpa, can you make the sound of a frog?”
“Why do you ask?” wondered the grandfather.
The boy replied, “Grandma said when Grandpa croaks we can all go to Disney World.”
That little boy had a clear goal. He knew where he wanted to go, and he had lots of excitement about that destination.
=> Second, without specific goals, you won’t accomplish as much.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to more than a million people across the world. From first-hand observation, I know that goal-setters accomplish a great deal more than non-goal setters. It’s that simple. Goal setters make more money, have better jobs, and build stronger families.
By contrast, the non-goal setters don’t have as much energy. And their lowered levels of energy short circuit their success. They simply “get by” instead of “getting on” with the business of moving ahead in life.
You may be saying, “Okay, I’m convinced. I believe that goal setters are goal achievers. But how do I go about defining my goals?”
I’m glad you asked. There is a process you can follow. It’s easy, and it works wonderfully well. It’s a part of what I teach in my off-site, Peak Performance Boot Camp. It’s absolutely life changing.
=> Start by listing everything you want to “be.”
Close your eyes and imagine your ideal self, possessing all the qualities you would like to have. List 8 to 10 qualities that describe the kind of person you want to “be.” Who do you want to “become?”
Maybe you want to “be” happier, more content, or more confident. Ten, twenty years from now you will be a different person. Are you setting “be” goals to become that kind of person, or are you just drifting along hoping it will happen?
=> Continue the process by defining the kinds of things you want to “do” or “have.”
Write whatever comes to mind for each of 10 categories: physical, career, family, social, financial, recreational, spiritual, mental health, personal growth, and lifestyle and possessions.
Don’t think about it too hard. And don’t worry about how you’re going to achieve those things. The purpose of this first step is to loosen you up and get you in touch with your dreams. Take an hour to write up your list.
=> Then, prioritize your dreams.
Count up the number of things you wrote down — things you want to “be,” “do” or “have.” Divide that number by 3.
Place the letter “A” by a third of the items. These would be your top priorities. They would be things that are absolutely necessary for your happiness and success.
Use the letter “B” to designate your second level of priorities. Put the letter “B” by the items that you would like to have but aren’t as important as your “A’s.”
Lastly, place the letter “C” by all of your remaining items. A “C” doesn’t mean that it’s unimportant, but it is something you could live without or could put off for a while.
=> Now balance your dreams.
Don’t make the mistake of having only one dream. If you focus all your energies on one dream or one goal, chances are you’ll achieve it, but your life will be a mess. I’ve seen too many people focus all their energies on one goal, such as making a million dollars. They make their million and then find out their health is gone, along with their spouse and kids. So balance your dreams.
In plain terms, that means you should have at least one “A” or “B” dream in each of the categories I outlined above. You should have at least one thing you want to “be,” and you should have at least one thing you want to “do” or “have” in each of the 10 other categories. No category should be overlooked.
=> Fifth, turn your dreams into goals by writing them out.
If you’ve come this far with me, you’ve clarified your dreams. That’s great. Fewer than 5% of the people ever bother to do that. But they’re not dreams. They’re not goals until they’re written out.
The research is very clear. If you’re not willing to put your dreams onto paper, you probably won’t achieve them. Writing gives your mind a sense of direction. It tells your subconscious mind that of all the millions of possibilities out there, these are the few you would like.
So writing out your goals is critical, but how you write them is also important. Make sure you’re specific. Write down exactly what you want — by when. Make them achievable. Cast them within the realm of physical reality. And make them so concrete you can actually visualize them.
=> Sixth, turn your goals into affirmation statements and action steps.
For example, if your goal is to live in the country, start telling yourself something like this, “I now own 20 acres of land in the country, with a beautiful house, orchards, a creek, and lots of animals.” The more you say it, the more your mind will accept it, and the more action you’ll take to accomplish your goal.
Of course, it would be nice if that’s all there was to it. There’s more. Your affirmations have to be followed by daily action. So plan out your goals, step-by-step. Try outlining a series of mini-steps for each of your goals.
A mini-step is a 5, 10, or 15 minute step you take every day or every few days on each of your goals. You simply commit yourself to taking a little action on a regular basis. Some days it will only be 5 minutes; other days you’ll get exited and spend a whole hour on a particular goal. That’s okay. The key thing is you’re making visible, measurable progress.
Besides being rather logical, it’s very exciting to see your list of action steps getting crossed off as you get closer and closer to accomplishing your goal.
=> Finally, for today’s purposes, celebrate.
If you follow my steps, you’ll have more success and more joy than ever before. So you deserve to celebrate your victories.
Action: Most people don’t get everything they want out of life. They don’t even think it’s possible. They’re the Drifters who just “get by.” I encourage you to be a Driver, to set your goals, and let the results astonish you.
Set aside an hour this week. Start the goal-setting process. Start listing all the things you want to “be,” “do,” or “have.” The process will excite you, and it may even motivate you to keep at it, going through all the steps I outlined.