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Goal-Setting for Dummies

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Yes I know that this topic is a little 'old-school' in terms of contemporary personal development stuff and possibly it's been talked and written about too much, but apparently we haven't been listening or doing.

Surprisingly (to me anyway) there are still many people who:

1. Don't really know how to set goals (effectively) or
2. Simply don't do it (for a range of reasons).

Despite the fact that we want 'more' (whatever that means for us personally) and despite the fact that we want to be somewhere different (financially, professionally, physically, emotionally, academically  possibly geographically!), many of us are clueless when it comes to strategically, methodically, and consciously creating life-long change.

And then we have those sad folk who are waiting to be 'discovered' (good luck with that) or waiting for success to happen to them (and with that).

It seems that the majority of us don't goal set as effectively as we could. We think we do  but we don't really. We have hopes and dreams. But no strategies. No plans. No time frames. We know what goal-setting is (that is, we have an intellectual understanding of it) but we don't have a practical application of it in our lives (we don't consistently do it!).

Sure we talk ourselves up and tell people how we're all about personal growth, exploring our potential and pushing the boundaries  but when it comes to creating our best life (whatever that is for us personally) we're still very hit and miss.

No strategy, no clearly defined goals, very little logic (sometimes) and some occasional passion. And if you think passion is enough, you're wrong. It's great — but not on it's own. We kind of have a plan and we kind of know where we want to go, but we don't really have clarity or certainty.

And if we want to create amazing, we need both.

What's to follow is a little revision, a little common sense and a little education; none of it is rocket science  If you do nothing else but apply these thoughts, ideas, concepts and suggestions you may very well create positive change almost instantly.

Here we go:

1. If you don't have your goals written down, if you don't have a time-line and if you don't have an action plan, then you don't really have goals; you have a wish list.

2. Goal-setting needs to be a methodical, practical, structured, logical process, not some crazy-ass, emotional reaction: "Right, that's it! I'm losing 20 pounds by next Wednesday!" (Because he/she said I'm fat!) Take (significant) time and space to do it. Step away from the busy-ness of your life. Get alone. Be still and quiet. And REALLY think about your life  and what you want for that life. What you want, why you want it and how you're gonna get it.

I personally do my major goal setting over Christmas and New Year every year and it takes me about a week to effectively set goals and plan for the next year. Success is something we purposely create, it doesn't happen to us; it's strategic, not accidental.

3. Emotion and passion are great  but only when they are harnessed to some logic and reason and wrapped around an intelligent, realistic plan. Emotion and passion on their own can be disastrous. By the way, this doesn't mean you need to be conservative –  it's very possible to be sensible and passionate and excited  and a little bit weird and mind-blowingly successful.

4. If you can't define it, you probably won't get it. Too many people don't even know what success is (for them).

About Craig Harper

  • Howard Dratch

    Being far older than are you I have spent time looking back and I see how right you are. Lifetimes only seem long when you are young and looking forward, looking into unseen futures.

    Your advice to look into a future with clear and focused goals in mind is absolutely correct. Any help you give people in your courses could make their lives better-organized, more successful and — just better. It is too easy to wander through the future without concentration and goals, without organization.

    Then the future is the past and it becomes obvious how much more could have been achieved.