GOALS: It’s Hard To Believe How Stupid I Can Be

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

Albert Einstein

Setting GoalsIn 1994, I remember watching Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in their movie, “Dumb and Dumber” and thinking this is really stupid. Why am I wasting my time watching something so idiotic? Perhaps you felt the same way. But that did not stop the movie from making lots of money, so much so that the sequel called “Dumb and Dumber To” is coming out in late 2014.

Then it hit me … sometimes I’m just as dumb as the characters in that movie. And as strange as it may seem, that’s what success can do to you — make you so dumb that you think you can skip the fundamentals in life or in business.

For example, I speak to a lot of sales audiences. And invariably there are some people in the audience who have become so successful they think they can skip the tough things they used to do when they first got started … such things as prospecting, cold calling, rapport building, and relationship building. They think they can sit back, take it easy, and just wait for the orders to come in. DUMB! If they take that kind of approach, they will soon find themselves with fewer customers and fewer sales. You’ve got to keep practicing the fundamentals.

And sometimes I’ve been too dumb to do that. For instance, I believe in goal setting. And I teach it with passion because I know that the person with goals will achieve a great deal more than the person without goals. Indeed, the people who attend my “Journey to the Extraordinary” are constantly telling me how my goal-setting process has changed their lives.

Bob Wernimont from Syngenta writes, “For many years I’ve heard that you need to write down your goals and say affirmations, but I didn’t know how to do it. So I never did it until I came to the ‘Journey.’ Using the practices you taught us, my confidence, listening, conversing, motivation, energy, and enthusiasm have all improved dramatically. The practices remind me of my goals and push me toward the accomplishment of those goals. It really is quite awesome!”

REGISTRATION EXPIRED! for my next “Journey” program coming to Dallas on May 1-2, 2014 and save $300 with our Early-Early Bird Registration Special.

Despite all of my academic knowledge, real-life experience, and thousands of testimonials from my “students,” it’s hard to believe how stupid I can be … once in a while. Occasionally, I’ve fallen into the trap of achieving so much success that I fooled myself into thinking I could skip the fundamentals of figuring out my goals. I just kept on working and assuming that everything would fall into place. Well, life doesn’t work that way.

And I don’t want you to fall into that dumb and dumber trap. So there are two things you’ve got to do when it comes to goals and goal setting.

1. Assess where you’ve been.

Before you even think about the goals you want to achieve, take a moment to assess your life, work, relationships, goals, and achievements in the last 12 months. Take a look at when you were on course, living the life and doing the work you truly wanted, and when you were off course.

The following “Yes-No” questions will give you a quick answer. Take a moment to write the word “yes” or “no” by each question.

  • When I think about 2013, did I experience personal renewal and revival in my life?
  • When I think about 2013, did I experience as much joy, fun, and pleasure as I would like?
  • When I think about 2013, was I living in a state of peace?
  • When I think about 2013, did I see time as a blessing rather than a curse in my life and in my work?
  • When I think about 2013, did I make enough time for rest, relaxation, prayer, and reflection?
  • When I think about 2013, were the relationships with my friends as good as I would like?
  • When I think about 2013, did I experience enough depth and intimacy in my closest relationships?
  • When I think about 2013, did I keep my promises?
  • When I think about 2013, did people find it easy to trust me?
  • When I think about 2013, was I actively involved in mentoring, coaching, or helping others to grow and improve?
  • When I think about 2013, was my family happy?
  • When I think about 2013, was I eating and sleeping well?
  • When I think about 2013, did I have a positive vision for my future?
  • When I think about 2013, was I living “with” success rather than dying “to” success?
  • When I think about 2013, did I take enough risks in pursuit of the better things in life, at home, and at work?

Obviously, the more “yes’s” you had, the better your life was. And chances are you had some specific, meaningful, written goals that helped you achieve your high levels of success. If you answered with too many “no’s,” chances are you weren’t goal focused.

Answer those questions, and then find a few minutes to take a deeper assessment of where you’ve been. Use my colleague Joel Weldon’s 7 questions. Ask yourself:

  1. What was your biggest success in 2013?
  2. What was the best decision you made in 2013?
  3. What was the most important lesson you learned in 2013?
  4. What made you the happiest in 2013?
  5. Who had the greatest positive impact on you in 2013?
  6. What were you most grateful for in 2013?
  7. If you could re-live 2013, knowing now everything that happened, and everything you did to make things happen the way they did, what would you do differently?

Take an assessment of where you’ve been so you’re ready to…

2. Set your goals.

For years, I took a day during the last week of the year to sit down … or walk the beach … and think about my goals for the upcoming year. Once I decided on my goals, AND … AND … AND … wrote them down, I almost always achieved them. Every one of them. My financial goals, health goals, relationship goals, business goals, educational goals, and spiritual goals.

When I became super successful, however, I got sloppy. I told myself that I didn’t have to go through the mundane task of assessing where I had been in the previous year and writing down my goals for the upcoming year. After all, I had it made! Whenever I did that, however, my results and my achievements always took a nosedive. That’s how stupid I had become.

But not anymore. I know I have to write down my goals … and so do you. If you don’t know how to do it, come to my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program this May 1-2, 2014 in Dallas. But get started NOW by answering these questions. Some of them come from my esteemed colleague Art Sobczak and some of them came from me. Your answers will lead you towards the goals you want to set for 2014.

  • What will you do to improve your physical health in 2014? 
  • What are you going to do every day to keep your attitude at a high level? 
  • How much time are you going to spend each day improving your professional skills? What will you do? 
  • How are you going to maximize the use of your time? Where will you cut out the time-wasters in each day?
  • What have you been putting off that you will take care of within the next two weeks? 
  • Who can you help to feel special every day? 
  • What challenge, wish or desire–that you’ve never attempted before–will you finally achieve in 2014? How will you do that? Why? 
  • In which areas will you improve your personal, family, and spiritual life? 
  • Where are you going to write all of this down so you can review and revise your plans regularly? 
  • What will it LOOK like when you accomplish everything you’ve just been thinking about? 
  • How good will it FEEL? 
  • What will it SOUND like when you achieve these things? 
  • Which of the energy suckers in your life (certain people, relationships, tasks, etc.) are you willing to eliminate or resolve this year? 
  • What will you do to live your life “on purpose” instead of by accident?

You and your life and your work and your relationships are too important to be left to chance. So don’t do it. Don’t become a part of the millions who could star in the movie sequel “Dumb and Dumber To.” Take time to set your goals now.


Take the “yes or no” quiz listed above. What is your gut reaction to your answers? Do you feel like celebrating or do you feel like it’s time to make a change?