ArticlesGoal Setting

Goalsetting: Must We?

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All goals take time to accomplish. But most people are impatient. All really worthwhile objectives involve work, and sacrifice, maybe even pain! But most people HATE pain. Therefore, most people don't have any system at all for setting targets.

As some wise person once said (and we've all heard it a hundred times), "Nobody plans to fail, but many people fail to plan." And when you look at that sentence on balance you have to realize that it's the same thing. No plan equals a plan for failure.

So here is a plan for goalsetting - target-setting - that may assist you in changing the way you address life.

Take out a new sheet of paper and write the numbers 1 through 10 vertically, about an inch apart. Ready? OK.

To make it easy for you to remember, I've made each of the following ten points hinge on words starting with the letter "P".

? Point 1...PAPERIZE. That's MY word. It means: Commit everything to writing. Writing is probably the very best way for you to move your thoughts from imagination to reality - from your gut to your head. So when you're setting targets, use a yellow pad and a pencil - so you can erase, change and edit - or use a computer word processor. There's a great deal of power and usefulness in getting your thoughts out to where you can SEE them. They become concretely PERCEPTIBLE and PERCEIVABLE.

? Point 2...PERIMETERIZE. Another crazy word. But what this means is: Set realistic targets. This is perhaps the toughest criterion of all. What is says is, "Think big, but be practical." Set reachable targets - don't set yourself up for failure. If the job you're seeking generally pays $40,000, don't expect $50,000 to start. It won't happen, you'll be disappointed, and your next attempt at goalsetting will be weaker as a result. The same is true for time frames. If it's going to take six months to get ready to go into business, don't expect you'll be up and running and profitable in a month or two.

? Point 3...PARTICULARIZE. Be specific. It's like the old saying, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." A corollary to this is: "?any road will get you there, but when you arrive you won't know where you are!" By being specific you set the stage for developing specific actions for getting you from where you are to exactly where you want to be. And by the way, with an accurately formulated and stated goal you're well on the way to a workable plan?and this means that when you get to where you're going you'll really know that you've arrived.

? Point 4...PERSONALIZE. Make your targets personal by using your imagination. Remember when you were a kid? Didn't you daydream about being something - a cowboy, a nurse, a pilot? Remember how that felt? That's what you need to return to now. FEEL your goal. You might even want to do this dreaming even before you start writing. It's your choice, but don't overlook the option.

? Point 5...PRESENTIZE. Always use the present tense as you set goals and plan. We discussed this a bit when we talked about visualization and affirmation, remember? This tells your brain that you're underway, not waiting to start. It'll be unnatural and uncomfortable at first. Here's an example. Instead of saying, "I'm going to send out 50 letters of inquiry and make follow up calls on each," say, "I am sending out letters of inquiry and five days later I'm making follow up calls on each one." As you do this, it'll become easier and more natural, and your feelings about getting the job done will change. You'll feel the momentum, and it will propel you toward your goal.

? Point 6...POSITIVIZE. State your targets in positive - and, where appropriate, in superlative - terms. Most of us will have at least a little bit of trouble with this, because we're so used to understating things. We resist "blowing our own horn." We also tend to use the negative a lot. For instance, just listen to how often people tell you what they DON'T WANT instead of telling you what they DO WANT. A friend of mine at Princeton University, George Miller of the Psychology Department, has a little sign over his desk that says, "The human mind is a mismatch detector; it's easier for us to see what's wrong than what's right." He uses the sign to remind him that it's difficult to assist people in raising their self-esteem, because they're set up to self-destruct.

? What may be even more important is the hypothesis that the mind doesn't discriminate on the basis of value. It simply responds to what is input. If the brain hears, "I am the worst!"...Guess what! Any idea what might occur for this person? On the other side of the coin, who used to shout "I am the greatest!"? Right, it was Mohammed Ali, and he became heavyweight boxing champion, even though there were many other boxers with equal or greater talent. As for the negatives, here's a sample. Instead of saying, "I don't want to be poor any longer," how could you say this in a positive way? "I am rich and getting richer every day." Watch yourself. Look for the "can't" and "don't" and "never" in your self-talk, and make the switch to "can" and "am" and "always." The difference will be enormous.

? Point 7...Be PASSIONATE. There are two ways to be passionate when it comes to target setting. Either Choose exciting targets - or get excited about the ones you choose. If you do a good job of selecting the goals you wish to accomplish, you'll automatically be excited - your dream will drive you. In the real world, of course, it's tough to be passionate about what you've got! But developing that ability may turn out to be your most valuable growth tool. A sales trainer named Charlie "Tremendous" Jones says it this way: "You've got to get excited about the miserable job you've got before you get a job so good that you ought to be excited about it."

? Point 8...Be PROGRESSIVE. This isn't a political statement; it's actually a RE-STATEMENT about priorities and procedures. On your way to any large goal you'll discover a number of smaller objectives and tasks that are to be done. Take things in some reasonable order. Try to finish one segment before beginning the next - but allow for whatever overlap there has to be. Start with small goals. As you achieve them you'll be motivated to tackle the larger ones. Make regular progress, one step at a time, and before you know it the journey will be over.

? Point 9...This is a tough one to make into a "P" statement. The principle is: Reward yourself when you reach a goal. In keeping with our "P" format, try this. "PAMPER YOURSELF!" Not too much, mind you, but a little bit, each time you reach a goal or make significant progress. Actually, I like the word "celebrate." Do you like it? Most of us do like it, but we don't do it. Somehow we believe we don't deserve it! But we do. So whenever you reach a goal - even a little one - reward yourself. And be generous with that reward. It might be a wonderful meal, a trip you've wanted to take, a new suit of clothes or other purchase, or it might be giving to someone else. But CELEBRATE. Here's a quick idea. Sock away a small percentage of each dollar you earn just so you can reward yourself when it's appropriate to do so. What a joy that'll produce. Try it!

? Point 10...Finally, PERFORM. As the Nike folks say, "JUST DO IT." The best plan is useless without action. And if you don't reach a particular target after repeated tries, let it go and set another goal, a different one. Be patient, be persistent, be positive. - and be flexible without ever losing sight of the final goal, whatever that is. By the way, it makes no difference that you're white, black, yellow, young, old, rich or poor. Goal-directed intentions and behaviors are a lifelong success mechanism.

For instance, let's look at age for a moment.

Ray Kroc took over a little hamburger stand when he was 53 and built it into McDonalds. Harlan Sanders, at age 69, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. And we all know about Winston Churchill.

As for setting targets as an exercise in patience and persistence, plus flexibility, look at Abraham Lincoln. He set his sights on lots of things at lots of times, didn't make it much of the time, yet he reached his ultimate goal of being of service to his country; he became president of the United States in 1860 and led the nation through its most difficult years.

Before he reached that pinnacle, though, Abe Lincoln failed in business in 1831 and again in 1832. He was defeated in political races in 1832, 1838, 1840, 1843, 1848, 1855, 1856 and 1858. A lesser man, a poorer dreamer, a less dedicated goalsetter, a less passionate person, a less flexible individual, would have been gone long since!

Here they are, in pr?cis form - the ten "P" words that can help you create, define, structure, move toward and attain whatever goals you see as right for you in your work and career future.


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