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Lesson Seventeen — Goal Setting

Goals are considered by most experts in the field of self-improvement and success planning to be the most important thing of all.  Entire books are devoted to the subject.  Although I do not agree with everything that is written on the subject, I do agree that goals are very important.

The trouble is, talking about goals is very easy.Doing something about goals presents more of a problem.First, you have to come up with a goal, or preferably, several goals.What do you want to do?What do you want to be?These are difficult questions to answer, not only for young people, but for older ones as well.

You should have goals for every aspect of your life.  Family, education, career, social, financial, health, sports, religion, these various goals should complement one another. (Not compliment.  They don’t need to say nice things about each other.)  In other words, they should not be inconsistent with each other.  If you want to get married right out of school and raise five kids, that is not going to be consistent with becoming a millionaire by your twenty-fifth birthday or becoming a Roman Catholic Priest. How you balance these various goals is what makes you unique. If your goals are out of balance or inconsistent with one another, it is unlikely that you will see much in the way of results.

Goal setting is probably the easiest part of the process, but it may also be the trickiest.  First, you have to know what you want.  Then, as I said a minute ago, your goals have to be consistent with one another.  They also have to be reasonably well defined.  If your goals are not well defined, you will not have a clear idea of what it is you are trying to achieve.  A lot of people would say, “I want to make tons of money.”  Not a bad goal, however, it is way too general.  Compare that with saying, “I want to make $100,000”, or better yet, “I want to save $100,000.”  If you simply say that your goal is to make tons of money, how will you ever know when you have achieved it?

Scale of money

What else is wrong with this $100,000 goal?There is no time frame, is there?Without a time element, it is not well defined and, therefore, unachievable.Poorly defined goals are not useful.They simply become a source of frustration because you never reach them.

Your goals must also be realistic.  Is it realistic for you to save $100,000 by the time you turn thirty?  I think so.  Is it realistic for you to save 500 million dollars?  I doubt it.

Actually, it does not matter what I think.  It matters what you think.  Do you think your goals are achievable?  If you do, that is great!  If you do not believe you can achieve it, the simple truth is that you are not going to.  You must believe in your goal and yourself in order to achieve it.  It does not happen by accident.

In order to be believable, your goals have to be your own, not someone else’s.  Your parents may want you to be a concert pianist, but if that is not what you want to be, there is little chance you are going to be one.  If you would prefer to play the guitar, you are not going to become a concert pianist.  And if somehow you do become a concert pianist, you are not going to be happy about it, and if you are not happy about it, you are not going to be very good at it.

A big problem in goal setting is that most people set goals based on what they think others expect of them, or would approve of.  Why is “being rich” on so many people’s list of goals?  Could it be that they want other people to think they are successful or important?  I think so.  Suppose you are the star defensive tackle for the high school football team?  Would it be okay to have a goal of getting a full ride at a Division One college?  Sure it would.  You would be admired by all of your classmates.  But, is that what you really want?  Do you want to be a slave to football twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year for the next four years?  What if you decided to play for fun at a Division Three school?  What if you decided not to play at all and concentrate on your studies?  The issue here is, of course, just whose goals are being set? Yours or someone else’s?

You should write your goals down somewhere.  Actually, you should write your goals down everywhere.  By putting them in writing, you will not forget them.  In fact, you will be constantly reminded of them.  Not only will this keep you from bouncing around from one goal to the next, but it will force you to test your belief in your goals.  If each and every day, you see your goals written down and you also see that you are not doing anything to get any closer to your goals, then you either have the wrong goals or you are going to have to change what you are doing.  Revise your goals, improve on them, or change them completely.  That’s fine.  Remember, these are your goals, not someone else’s.

Goal setting is only the first step.  Anyone can set goals, but they are not much good if we do not achieve them.  But, how? That is next . . .