Do you want to double your salary? Or have better relationships? Or master an instrument? Or do you want something much, much bigger? What if I told you there was a way to get it? To do that, you need two key things.
The First Thing
The first is a roadmap. If you want to get somewhere in life, you have to have a roadmap. You have to have a plan of how to get there. In order to get to where you want to be you need goals.
Just as you can’t expect to navigate a complex highway system without knowledge, a plan, or some type of map or GPS, you can’t expect to navigate aimlessly through life without knowing where you’re going. Goals point us toward a destination of where we want to be.
Do you want to go to the Grand Canyon? Punch it in on the GPS and move in the right direction. Do you want to become a millionaire? You plot out your plan and follow it. You wouldn’t randomly drive around hoping one day you bump into the Grand Canyon. You shouldn’t randomly drive though life expecting to achieve great things.
The Second Thing
The second thing you need is to know your priorities. If you take a trip to the Grand Canyon, that means you can’t go somewhere else at that same time. We have a finite amount of time and money and we have to plan where to use it.
You may want to be a millionaire or you may want to live and work in impoverished areas to help others. Depending on your plan these goals may be mutually exclusive. You need to find out what you want out of life and realize every choice has a cost. Make sure you choose the right things to focus your time and money on – the things you really want out of life.
Creating a Plan
Now that you know what you want and how much it will cost, you need to write out your goals. Goals are the roadmap to get you where you want to be.
To start with why not use one-year goals? For instance ask yourself these questions. What do you want your life to look like in a year? How do your finances look? Your relationships? Your career? Your impact in the world? Choose 1 to 3 things to focus on and write a goal for each.
If you want to write goals that inspire you and move you in the right direction, you will want to make sure you write goals that follow four key rules.
The first thing you want to do when writing out goals is to put them in the present tense. This has an almost magical effect of getting our subconscious on our side believing we are already what we want to be in the future. More importantly it avoids “Someday syndrome” in which your mind says “Oh, sure. We WILL become proficient at the piano, but that’s tomorrow.”
Let’s take a look at an example:
I will learn the guitar.
You could be using this same goal for years, saying, “I’m 40, pfft I have time”, then it will be “I’m 60”, then “I’m 80”, then “I’m in a pine box.” Why not try this instead:
I can play 5 songs on the guitar by July 1, 2011.
Is there any room for error here?
The next thing you will want to do is frame your goal in a positive way. Our minds have a way of paying attention to what we say regardless of whether we try to avoid it or not. For instance: don’t think of a pink elephant. What are you thinking of? Exactly.
Let’s look at an example of a goal to avoid:
I stop smoking.
The problem with this goal is it keeps the focus on smoking. Every time you mention the goal you think about smoking, and all that does is get you craving the thing you want to avoid. Instead, we want to phrase our goal in a positive way, such as:
I breath only clean air every day.
This focuses our mind on what we truly want and helps us avoid things we don’t want.
The next thing you need to do is make your goal measurable. As the business axiom goes, “what gets measured gets done”. In other words, when a goal is generic you can’t verify that you’re on the right track. To go back to the road analogy, if you didn’t have road markers or a speedometer, you would never know when you would get to wherever you were going.
Let’s look at an example of a goal that’s not measurable:
I read more.
Can you see the problem here? Instead, how about this:
I read 12 books by December 31, 2017.
Not only do we know exactly what we are doing, it helps us calculate that we need to read one book a month to be on track.
Have a Deadline
Have you figured out what the last step is by the examples? Yes, it’s a deadline. A deadline avoids the someday syndrome and allows you to accurately measure that you are on track. There is also something about a deadline that calls us to get creative to meet our goals and find solutions to difficult roadblocks we might not have otherwise found.
A deadline is simply a date. Here’s a goal without a deadline:
I am worth $1 million dollars.
You might as well say “someday.” Instead, try this:
I am worth $1 million dollars by December 31st, 2030.
Boom! You know exactly when you will achieve this and know you probably better get moving! I want to point out that most everyone can achieve this, but again, remember the price – do you want to pay the price for this, or are there other things more important?
Get Whatever You Want!
So, you can have whatever you want if you are willing to pay the right price and map out your course with goals that are in the present tense, positive, measurable, and have a deadline. Additionally you should review your goals every day.
But above and beyond anything else, goals do something more powerful than get us things. As Zig Ziglar said: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Why not change your life and write some goals today?
For more information on setting goals, why not try Goals! by Brian Tracy? I highly recommend it!