I used to do a lot of Goal Setting workshops for older kids with special needs. These were primarily high school age kids that for a variety of reasons were no longer able to go to school in the mainstream public education system. I was asked to do a Goal Setting session for one class and it went well enough that it turned into a long-term thing.
While I was never paid for any of this work I was richly rewarded. From time to time I’ll still hear from one of these kids who aren’t kids anymore. They are adults now, often with kids of their own. It is the greatest compliment, and reward, that they still contact me for advice sometimes.
But at first I was very frustrating for them. That’s because when I asked them about their goals their most frequent answer was “to be a success.” There are so many things wrong with that goal I hardly know where to begin.
First off it’s not even close to specific enough to be a real goal. I could put 100 people in a room and ask each of them for their definition of success. I might get 100 different answers. And not a one of them would be wrong. Success is and should be very personal.
If you’re going to claim that success is your goal then you’re first going to have to define exactly what success looks like to you. What it means. How it feels. How you will measure it. How you will know, with certainty, that you have reached it. And most of all, precisely what actions you are willing to undertake to achieve it.
I’m okay with someone telling me that “success” is their ultimate goal but every daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and longer range goal they have must get them closer to that success goal. That’s why it is so critical that the first step of the goal setting process involve defining exactly what success means to the goal setter.
Goals are literally the engine of success. Like most engines, goals can be complicated. They have various parts that all need to work together in order to create the horsepower needed to reach the destination (success) in a timely manner.
You cannot sit in a car with no engine (or battery these days) and just think about it taking you somewhere. You need a real engine. So it is with goals. You cannot merely think about setting some goals and expect to get somewhere. You need real goals.
Goals in every area of your life. Goals that are written down. Goals that have a deadline to achieve them. Goals that are very specific. Goals that have a plan, a plan that states specifically what the goal setter will do every single day to ensure they get closer to one of the goals. If whatever you need to do today to get closer to one of your goals is not on your calendar then you’re not serious about it. If you didn’t do something yesterday to get closer to one of your goals then you may have been busy, even very busy, but I would suggest to you that you were NOT productive.
Think about that.
Many of you would tell me you’re too busy trying to get by to set and pursue goals. I would tell you that you’re too busy trying to get by because you don’t have true goals that motivate you, that drive you, towards greater success each day.
Written goals quickly become priorities. When you have defined priorities in your life you discover that you have all the time you need to accomplish them. You’re no longer burning up time on the “stuff” that isn’t a priority in your life.
Goals will harness the power that’s already within you to have whatever you want out of life. Without goals that power is wasted as you sit in neutral waiting for success to come to you.
Don’t wait. Build your goal engine today. Yes, it will require lots of reflection and serious planning. But if you’re serious about success you’ll make those investments. If not, you’ll likely be waiting for success a long long time.
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