Every successful person I’ve met shared, in varying degrees, a zeal for goal setting. Successful athletes, CEOs, charismatic leaders, rainmaking salespeople, and accomplished managers all know what they want in life, and they go after it.
Have you set goals? Have you written them down? Do you have a plan to accomplish them? It turned out that only 3 percent of the Yale class had written down their goals, with a plan of action to achieve them. Thirteen percent had goals but had not written them down. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, other than to “enjoy themselves.” In 1973, when the same class was resurveyed, the differences between the goal setters and everyone else were stunning. The 13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. But most surprising of all, the 3 percent who had written their goals down were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates combined!
Countless books have been written about goal setting over the last few decades. Yes, it really is that important. Over the years, I’ve refined my own goal-setting process into three steps. But the key is to make setting goals a habit. If you do that, goal setting becomes a part of your life. If you don’t, it withers and dies.
Step One: Find Your Passion The best definition of a “goal” I’ve ever heard came from an extraordinarily successful saleswoman I met at a conference who told me, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
All good decisions, I’m convinced, come from good information.
Deciding on your passion, your bliss, your blue flame is no different. There are two aspects to getting good information. One part comes from within you; the other part comes from those around you. 1. Look inside There are many ways to conduct a self-assessment of your goals and dreams. Some people pray. Others meditate or read. Some exercise. A few seek long periods of solitude. The important thing when conducting an internal review is to do without the constraints, without the doubts, fears, and expectations of what you “should” be doing. You have to be able to set aside the obstacles of time, money, and obligation. When I’m in the right frame of mind, I start to create a list of dreams and goals.
Look outside Next, ask the people who know you best what they think your greatest strengths and weaknesses are. Ask them what they admire about you and what areas you may need help in. Before long, you’ll find that the information you’re getting from your own review and the input you receive from others will lead you to some very concrete conclusions about what your mission or direction should be.
Disciplined dreamers all have one thing in common: a mission. The mission is often risky, unconventional, and most likely tough as hell to achieve. But it is possible. The kind of discipline that turns a dream into a mission, and a mission into a reality, really just comes down to a process of setting goals.
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