This article is about becoming the best you through the power of goal setting.
Two years ago I had a patient who retired at age 56. His major goal in life was to retire early which he did, but beyond that he had few goals. Six months after retiring I saw him in the office and asked him how retirment was going. He said, “Not good. I have no motivation to do anything. I wake up and look at the door and say, ‘That door needs to be painted, but I can do that tomorrow. Or, that shrub needs to be trimmed, but I can do that tomorrow.’ So I end up doing nothing all day because I have tomorrow to do it.”
Don’t fall into the trap that you have tomorrow to do it. One of these days there will be no more tomorrows. So make sure you say what you need to say when you need to say it, and you do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. This patient has little motivation in part because he has no goals. One thing is for sure you cannot complete a goal you never start. And, you cannot start a goal until you set a goal.
Maybe that’s one reason we die. So that we are forced to set goals. So that we run out of tomorrows and have to take advantage of today. So that we live life with some sense of urgency and get things done while we can. One way to take advantage of today is to set goals. We are setting goals all the time whether we realize it or not. Saying you are going to get up at six AM to get yourself to work on time is a goal. But, that’s not the type of goal we are talking about. We are talking about goals that lead to accomplishment, pleasure, and purpose – goals that make life worth living. We are talking about goals that shape and design a fulfilling life.
Next to getting yourself right with God, the best thing you can do for yourself is to constantly improve yourself. Setting goals is a means to that end. I have found the better I become, the better my circumstances become though life still throws me curveballs, and I still experience setbacks from time to time.
Why Set Goals?
Some people see no reason to set goals. In some cases they think life is fate and that things turn out as they are supposed to. Or, they have few needs and see no reason to set goals. But, those individuals miss the bigger picture or reason for setting goals. Even people who set goals do not fully appreciate the complete purpose and power of setting goals.
It’s difficult to achieve a goal without becoming better yourself in the process especially when it comes to the big or life changing goals. In the end, the person you become in the process of reaching a goal is more important and more valuable than the reaching goal itself. To achieve some goals you have to develop skills you don’t have, or they require you to change your thinking or your attitude. Whatever may be the case, big goals force you to change for the better.
Let’s look at money as example. If you set a goal to become millionaire you most likely are going to have to develop skills that you do not currently possess. And, here’s what’s nice. You can end up losing the million dollars, but the skill set you developed in obtaining a million dollars stays with you forever. That’s why some people are able to make and lose fortunes repeatedly. Many of them say “the first million is the hardest”, but once they figure that out doing it again and again becomes easier and easier.
So we set goals to BECOME MORE as we strive to achieve or obtain more. So set goals that will stretch you so you have to grow or change. You set goals to develop your God given talents while helping others achieve their goals in the process. We are supposed to develop our gifts for the benefit of others and not just ourselves.
During my sports medicine fellowship we were assigned a never ending list of projects. One of the other fellows mildly complained to the program director about all these projects. The program director looked at him and said, “Scott, just look at it as another opportunity to excel.” Hard to argue with that. We set goals to excel at becoming better people.
The Power of Goal Setting
I’ve been pretty self motivated my entire life and have always had goals that I tucked away in my brain and have been able to achieve many of them without ever writing them down. We frequently hear of the importance of writing things down and I’ve always pooh poohed that idea because I’ve been able to accomplish much of what I’ve wanted without writing things down.
No one ever taught me how to or even suggested that I should set goals. And, I didn’t know that there are goal-setting models out there. I never learned a goal-setting model in high school, college, or medical school. Yet, knowing how to set goals is probably the most valuable tool you can learn. My dad taught us to get better everyday that I wrote about in Live Life to its Fullest:Lessons From Dad and I suppose that lesson subconsciously has led me to be driven and set goals, but even he never said, “Here’s how to set goals.”
But, 19 years ago I was introduced to an extemely beneficial method of goal setting that I continue to use today. And, it involved writing goals down on paper. I am sure you will find this goal-setting model most helpful as I share it today. I learned it at a Leadership Conference held in Dallas in 1996 that I attended given by an entrepreneur and motivational speaker named Jim Rohn. Mr. Rohn died in 2009 and is known as “America’s Foremost Business Philosopher” and has been a mentor to many successful entreprenuers including Tony Robbins who is a motivational speaker and entrepreneur and Mark Hughes who started Herbalife.
He provided a model of goal setting that I will review here. I recommend taking one to two hours to do this goal-setting workshop. And, that’s another point. It’s important to take some time each day, each week, each month, and each year to reflect on each day, each week, each month, and each year. We are going to discuss setting goals to map out your life so commit some real time to do it.
Back to writing goals down. Write your goals down. DO NOT type them on a computer. There is something magical about writing in your own handwriting anything down. There are neural connections made in the brain that do not occur when you type something. There have been studies that show students who handwrite their notes as opposed to typing or keyboarding them into a computer perform better on tests.
Also, writing goals down is a way to make a commitment. The difference between storing goals in your head like I used to and writing them down is like the difference between living with someone and getting married. One is just pretend, the other is real and takes effort. If you write your goals down you have to answer to yourself if you don’t achieve it. You can’t sweep it under the table and pretend you didn’t make a goal.
Below is a video of of Mr. Rohn’s goal-setting model presented at a Herbalife meeting. At the time of the video Mr. Rohn was already deceased and Herbalife used an audio of a prior presentation of Mr.Rohn’s. Jim Rohn is introduced at 5:40.
I will go through the steps of his goal-setting model here, but the exercise is more valuable if you do not know in advance all the steps of the model. So do each step below completely without looking at all the steps in advance. Or, you can simply follow the above video and do each step when instructed.
Write down five accomplishments you have already achieved that you are proud of. This is a warm up exercise and stimulates the brain into action. It’s a way to pat yourself on the back. Also, some people feel like their lives have been wasted, or they may feel they haven’t achieved as much as they thought they should. But, by writing down what you have already done may help you realize that you have the potential to accomplish more, and you may realize you have accomplished more than you thought. This step gets the old self confidence primed.
Writing down what you have accomplished should help your self esteem. Maybe you raised quality kids as a single parent. If so, that is something to be proud of. Maybe you earned a doctorate degree against all odds. Maybe you attracted the type of person you envisioned you would marry. Maybe you learned to finally hula hoop or jitterbug. Maybe you started a business and even though it failed it made you realize you could do it. Maybe you received recognition at work or became president of a civic group. Maybe you survived a bankruptcy or other financial hardship. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is important to you.
And, that’s another point. This whole goal-setting exercise has to do with what is important to you and your life – not someone else or their life. This is you against you – not someone else. How have you been successful in ways that are important to YOU?
Think in terms of educational accomplishments, personal accomplishments, health and fitness accomplishments, spiritual accomplishments, family accomplishments, financial accomplishments, travel accomplishments, possessions obtained, and so on for this step and the next step that follows.
Over 15 to 20 minutes write down 50 goals you want to accomplish over the next 10 years. You can write more than 50, but 50 goals typically gets people outside their comfort zones and gets them stretching their minds some.
Write them down one below the other in list format. These are not goals you think you can achieve. These are goals you want to achieve. If you can have your cake and eat it too, what would you want. These are goals that will make your life the life you want. Again, focus on the categories discussed above. Places you want to travel, health and fitness goals, financial goals, family goals, spiritual goals, relationship goals, and so on. No goal is too small nor too large. No goal is too silly nor too outlandish. If you want to be the President of the United States – write it down. Write them all down as fast as you can think of them. If something enters your mind – WRITE it down. Got your 50 goals? Good, move onto the next step.
Now think in terms of 1, 3, 5, and 10 years or more. Look at your list and each goal. Is a particular goal something that can be achieved in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years or more? Assign a number to each goal – so a 1, 3, 5, or 10 accordingly. Attending the National College Football Championship Game might be a 1 or 3 year goal. Accumulating a million dollars in savings might be a 10 year goal. Opening your own business might be a 3 to 5 year goal. Becoming more involved in your church might be a 1 year goal.
Ideally, you should have a fairly equal distribution of 1, 3, 5, and 10 year goals. Most commonly people have disproportionately more 1 and 3 year goals than 5 and 10 year goals. So be sure to think both short and long-term.
For starters pick out your top four 1-year goals. These are the four most important to you. For each one write down why achieving that goal is important to you. The purpose of this is to see how strong of a reason you have to achieve the goal. You’ll begin to see if you really want to make the necessary commitment to go after a particular goal. As Jim Rohn used to say,”When the ‘why’ gets strong, the ‘how’ gets easier.” If you really want something badly enough you’ll figure a way to achieve it.
Many times we have the knowledge or skill to do something. Frequently, what is lacking is the desire or not having enough reasons. We need strong enough reasons to want to accomplish something. For many there is a turning point in life where one says, “Enough is enough. I have to change things.” It may be something big that turns your life upside down, but it can be a small event that becomes the last straw. In the end, though, there is a defining moment for many of us. For Jim Rohn it was not having enough money at age 25 to buy Girl Scout cookies that led him to change his life. So dig down deep looking for reasons.
You can then go through that exercise with your 3, 5, and 10 year goals as well.
This final step goes back to the purpose of goal setting we discussed earlier. Look at your entire list of goals. Then write down what kind of person you will have to become to achieve most of them. You might conclude that you have to develop better interpersonal skills, develop a more pleasant personality, smile and laugh more, follow through better with your clients, take on more leadership responsibility, learn a new skill, work more hours, spend more time with your family, learn to manage time better, give more of your time, stop and smell the roses more often, and so on. In short, you will have to improve yourself.
We attract that we which we are. If you are kind, kindness will be extended back. If you are thoughtful, thoughtfulness will find its way to you. If you give of yourself and the best of yourself, you will receive the best somewhere else down the road.
The best way to achieve your goals is to attract them by becoming the type of person it takes to achieve them. Some may call it karma.
Realize this, though. You will attract that which you are, but you may not reap it where you sow it. In fact, you usually don’t. Many times the people you help cannot “pay you back”, but you will be paid back somewhere else by someone else. You may be kind to someone, and someone else other than that person will be kind to you. That’s how it works.
Just work on becoming the best person you can become and develop the talents you’ve been blessed with – and doors will open!
Tips for Achieving Your Goals
Though it is not of part of the Jim Rohn model, I recommend that after you have your list of goals that you go back and rewrite them this time being as specific as possible couching the goals in the most positive language possible. Goals should be measurable and have deadlines. Rather than say, “I want to lose weight.” Say, “I shall lose 25 pounds in 5 months.” Or, “I shall own a black Tesla S P85D this time a year from now.” Or, “I will join a church group within the next month.” Again, be specific as possible and use strong positive language. “Shall” is stronger than “will” and “will” is stronger than “might”.
Some goals or items on your bucket list simply require time and money. Those are the easy goals to achieve and really don’t require much of a plan. But, some goals require a plan and for those goals you need to give some thought to the steps it will take to achieve it as in starting your own business.
Your list of goals is not etched in stone though you have written them down. Carry a small list of your major goals with you and review them daily. You won’t do it daily, but the more often you review them more likely and faster you will achieve your goals. Goals are magnets that will pull you where you want to go and that is more true the more you keep them in front of you. As you achieve the goals check them off your list and add new ones to the list. You may find down the road that some goals are no longer relevant or important to you. If so, take them off your list. The list is fluid.
Go through this goal-setting exercise each year. And, save your old lists not only for kicks but to learn from them and to keep you on the right track and to see how much you have developed. The goals you set at age 30 will be much different than the ones you set at age 60 – hopefully.
Share this goal-setting model with family members especially kids as soon as they are old enough to understand the exercise, though you might want to start with fewer goals. I can’t imagine how my life might be had I learned this goal-setting model much sooner in life.
When you do achieve a goal find some way to celebrate the occasion. The bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the celebration. Make life fun as you make it a journey in achievement and an exploration into becoming the best you you can become.
As I was writing this article our family lost a sizeable amount of money on the sale of house in another state that we were underwater on (one of those curveballs I mentioned earlier). While losing the money was no accomplishment, finally getting rid of the house was. The house was owning us. We went out to dinner the night we closed on the deal and celebrated a new beginning. So you can even celebrate defeat and failure sometimes. It all depends on how you look at events and circumstances.
As you think, so you become. Think big, dream big, become a bigger (better) person! Set goals that will bring out the best in you.
A Dozen Quotes from Jim Rohn
Success is nothing more than a few disciplines practice every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgement repeated every day.
The major reason for setting a goal if for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always the far greater value than what you get.
Happiness is not an accident. Nor is it something you wish for. Happiness is something you design.
Take good care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
Formal education will make you living; self education will make you a fortune.
Let others live small lives, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.
We can have more than we’ve got because we can become more than we are.
It is not what happens that determines the major part of your future. What happens, happens to all of us. It is what you do about what happens that counts.
The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, “If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.” Now I say, “I will take care of me for you if you will take care of you for me.”
Don’t wish is was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for fewer challenges; wish for more wisdom.
Start from wherever you are and with whatever you’ve got.
The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.
*Several books and audio/video programs by Jim Rohn are availabe on his website. Also, several videos of his are available on YouTube – some dating back to 1981. His “Challenge to Succed” program is one of his most popular programs and is below. Peck away at viewing it when you have the time and share it with others especially someone struggling with life.
Here’s an earlier program from 1981.