Why do some people with average talents and ability succeed while those with great gifts and genius never achieve their potential? Can setting goals really make a difference in what you can accomplish?
Countless testimonies from highly successful people of all walks of life along with the many books written on the subject making one thing clear: Those who set goals achieve significantly more in life.
Earl Nightingale said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”
It’s not to say that without goals you can’t accomplish anything, but it’s like driving around without knowing where you are going. If you don’t have a destination, you will never arrive!
You may say that you have goals and it hasn’t really made a difference. What you might have missed are the six essential parts of goal setting that puts the power behind this proven method. Try adding these elements to your plan:
- Goals must be written. Yes, you can hold your goals in your head but writing them down has a way of making them real. Everything ever written on goals will tell you how important it is to write down your goals. Having a dedicated notebook with your written goals is even better. As you review your progress you’ll be motivated to continue working towards your goals!
- Goals must be clear. Setting goals like “I want to start a business and make a lot of money” or even as vague as “I want to double my income” are not clear enough to create a path to achieving them. Try more specific goals like, “I want to start my cleaning business by January 1st”. You can then list your income goals by month, with a realistic plan on how you will earn that income. If you want to double your income, start with having a goal of increasing your income by 20% each month, with a definite plan how you can do this.
- Goals must have a deadline. Make sure you give yourself a timeline for every goal. If you don’t make your deadline, don’t worry, the goal police are not going to arrest you. Simply adjust and keep going!
- Goals must be realistic. If your goals are not realistic, you won’t achieve them. This will quickly derail your goal of setting goals! You must make your plan challenging, but doable in the time frame you give yourself. Breaking any large project into smaller tasks makes anything possible. Adjust your goals as you go along, always working towards your larger goals.
- Goal setting must be a way of life. You must be committed to your goals. Make a decision to review your goals daily and revise them as needed. You can start with something as simple as a daily to-do list, but making weekly, monthly and yearly goals will help you define what you do today. Dream a little and try setting 3, 5, and 10 year long term goals, too. Each day may not seem to yield results, but as you look back, you’ll be amazed at your progress. Remember the story of the tortoise and hare!
- Goals must have action steps. Stephen Covey said, “Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.” The most important step in goal setting is having a well defined plan. Goals without a plan are simply dreams.Each goal should have at least one action as your next step towards your goal. This is the hidden nugget of gold in achieving your goals. Dreaming about where you would like to be in a month or a year is great, but thinking through the needed steps for your goal will make it happen!
These six elements of successful goal setting is what makes the difference between doers and talkers, between getting by and achieving your dreams. Read only one book on goal setting if you need more convincing.
It doesn’t cost a penny or take much time to try out this theory that has worked for so many successful people. Do yourself a favor and try it for one month and see what happens. Start a notebook and write down where you would like to be in 10 years and work backwards from there until you have a list of what you need to do today to achieve your long term goals. If 10 years is too much to think about right now, try one year. The important thing is to get started and see what a difference it makes in your life.
One tool I use to track my goals is a free app (with premium options, of course….) called ToDoist. I keep the icon on the bottom toolbar of my computer since I work on it everyday. This makes it easy to add or review tasks quickly. Making the process fit your lifestyle as simply as possible is a key to continued success.
Just do it!
Let us know how it works for you. If you are already a goal setter, do you have any encouragement you can offer our readers on how it has worked for you?