I am standing in a room in a hotel somewhere in America, and I am talking about the power of setting goals. I pause and ask the audience a question: “By a show of hands, who honestly has clearly articulated goals for this year?” Only a few hands go up, probably about two percent of the room.
I am a motivational speaker, and this scene repeats itself time and time again, everywhere I go, month after month, year after year. Very few people are setting goals personally or professionally.
Why? I am so curious to know the reason why.
When I ask people one on one why they aren’t setting goals, they have the same answers all over the country:
“I don’t have time.”
“I am busy.”
“I don’t know how.”
“If I write them down, I will be disappointed when I don’t make them.”
“I am afraid to do that.”
Let’s take each one of those and address them individually.
“I don’t have time.” This is said by the same person who spends nine months planning a weeklong vacation to Disney World. A single trip that only lasts one week. This is the same person who spends nine weeks preparing for their fantasy football draft day, for fantasy football that doesn’t really exists! (Uh, it’s fantasy, it’s not real. Sorry.) The same person will spend hours each day watching T.V. They have time to do all these activities but not to plan the most important one of all – their life. As Earl Nightingale once said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”
“I am busy.” Okay, I get it but here is a very thought-provoking question. Ready? How do you know that what you are busy doing is the right thing to do? If you don’t have clearly articulated goals, then you might just be working on the wrong things. How do you know what to focus on? How do you know that your hard work is paying off?
“I don’t know how.” I am going to be brutally honest here: I must say I am baffled by this comment by people who really mean it when they say it. They don’t know how to set goals. I am not trying to be judgmental but really? Here are some quick instructions: 1) Take out a piece of paper and a writing instrument, 2) Write down all goals personally and professionally, 3) Write down why the goal matters and how to go about doing it, and 4) When the goal will be achieved. Let’s say someone wants to lose weight. They would write: 1) Lose 50 pounds, 2) So I can live a long and healthy life free of disease and see my kids graduate, 3) Follow a prescribed plan (such as Weight Watchers), and 4) Based on a calculation, the goal can be achieved by September 4. That is it – done.
“If I write them down, I will be disappointed when I don’t make them.” This someone is living in a river in Africa, and it’s called denial! If they don’t write them down, they still failed they are just living in denial and delusion. The only person it hurts is them. They became their own self-defeating enemy. How sad. I see so many people who have great dreams and aspirations but can’t seem to move into first gear to start achieving them.
Today I am asking you, begging you, pushing you, prodding you, patting you on the back holding you up if I must, and trying to convince you to for the first time in your life write down your goals. Now. Don’t waste one more day. Please. I don’t want you at the end of your life to regret what you didn’t do when you could have. You are the architect of your life; please draw a blueprint so you can know what you are building.
I think that you are given a life as a gift. I also believe that the biggest tragedy is to be given a life and to not reach your potential. Don’t waste it, don’t squander it. make this the best life you a can make it. It’s the one simple act that can transform your life.
As Melody Beattie once said, “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”