The different in people’s abilities to fully tap their personal resources is directly affected by their goals. A study of the 1993 graduats of Yale University clearly demonstrates this point. The graduates interviewed were asked if they had a clear, specific set of goals written down with a plan for achieving those goals. Only 3 percent had such written down a plan for achieving those goals. Only 3 percent had such written goals. Twenty years later, in 1973 the researchers went back and interviewed the surviving members of the 1953 graduating class. They discovered that the 3 percent with written specific goals were worth more in financial terms than the entire other 97 percent put together. Obviously, this study measures only people’s financial development. However, the interviewers also discovered that the less measurable or more subjective measures, such as the level of happiness and joy that the graduates felt, also seemed to be superior in the 3 percent with written goals. This is the power of goal setting.
Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle without having seen the picture of what it represents? That’s what happens when you try to put your life together without knowing your outcomes. When you know your outcome, you give your brain a clear picture of which kinds of information being received by the nervous system need high priority. You give it the clear messages it needs to be effective.
Winning starts with beginning:
There are people we all know some of them who seem constantly lost in a fog of confusion. They go one way, then another. They try one thing then shift to another. They move down one path and then retreat in the opposite direction. Their problem is simple: They don’t know what they want. You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.
But it’s absolutely essential that you do so in a totally focused way. If you just read this it is not going to do you any good. You need to sit down with a pencil and paper or a word processor, if you’re so inclined and view this as a twelve step goal setting workshop.
Settle into a place where you feel particularly comfortable a favorite writing desk, a sunny corner table someplace you find nurturing. Plan to spend an hour or so learning what you expect to be and do and share and see and create. It could be the most valuable hour you ever spend. You’re going to learn to set goals and determine outcomes. You’re going to make a map of the roads you want to travel on in your life. You’re going to figure out where you want to go and how you expect to get there.
Let me start with one major warning: There is no need to put any limitations on what’s possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean throwing your intelligence and common sense out the window. If you’re four feet eleven inches tall, there’s no sense deciding your outcome is to win the NBA slam dunk contest next year. No matter what you try, it won’t happen (unless you work well on stilts). More important, you’ll be diverting your energy from where it can be most effective. But when viewed intelligently, there are no limits to the outcomes available to you.
Limited goals create limited lives. So stretch yourself as far as you want in setting your goals. You need to decide what you want because that’s the only way you can expect to get in. Follow these five rules in formulating your outcomes:
1) State your outcome in positive terms. Say what you want to happen. Too often, people state what they don’t want to happen as their goals.
2) Be as specific as possible. How does your outcome look, sound, feel, smell? Engage all of your senses in describing the results you want. The more sensory rich description, the more you will empower your brain to create your desire. Also be certain to set a specific completion date and/or term.
3) Have an evidence procedure. Know how you will look, how you will feel, and what you will see and hear in your external world after you have achieved your outcome. If you don’t know how you’ll know when you’ve achieved your goal, you may already have it. You can be winning and feel like you’re losing if you don’t keep score.
4) Be in control. Your outcome must be initiated and maintained by you. It must not be dependent upon other people having to change themselves for you to be happy. Make sure your outcome reflects things that you can affect directly.
5) Verify that your outcome is ecologically sound and desirable. Project into the future the consequences of your actual goal. Your outcome must be one that benefits you and other people.