I gave a speech at my Toastmasters meeting this evening based on a quote that I received in e-mail today. The quote:
People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going
-Earl Nightingale, author The Strangest Secret, Lead the Field.
Imagine hitting the open road without a map to reveal where you’re going. It’s the same with trying to succeed without explicit goals established. But once you take the time to write down your goals and action steps to obtaining these goals, you’re more likely to find the professional and personal successes for which you strive.
After receiving it, I realized that I made some major mistakes when I set my goals this year. And I wanted to share some thoughts about how to set better goals so that people don’t make the same mistakes that I made:
1. Get clear on what you want
The more detail you can visualize for a specific outcome, the more likely it is that you can make it happen. That’s because you can actually “see” it in your mind.
When you can visualize yourself shaking the hand of your new boss as you get the job offer, crossing the finish line of the 5k run doing your best time ever, or approaching the podium to receive your first award for Best Table Topics, the goal is so clear to your mind. You can almost see your future before it happens. Visualizing each detail helps you create your own future.
Even if you don’t have all of the action steps that you need to take, the clearer your goals are, the easier it will be for you to achieve them.
2. Write them down and post them somewhere visible
Writing down your goals is a powerful act. Once you translate your thoughts into ideas that go on paper, you are much more likely to achieve whatever it is you set out to do. When you can see it on a regular basis, you are constantly reminded of what it is you want to achieve. That way, it never strays from your mind.
The good thing about at least writing down your goals is that you can sometimes still get them accomplished by just putting them out into the universe. You make them real by taking them out of your head and putting them on paper. Even though I had lost track of my goal list, I had accomplished about half of my goals. But just half – imagine what would have happened if I had posted my list somewhere that I could see every day. What might I have done?
3. Refine your goals
Sometimes you may not have all the details, or once you start working towards a goal, you’ll see that it’s not exactly what you wanted in the first place. That’s ok. It’s better to start acting and correct your direction as you are making progress than it is to wait until you have all of the details.
You could wait forever for the perfect plan to suddenly come to you, and then where would you be? You’d still be at square one, waiting for inspiration. Meanwhile, you would not have learned by experimenting with what wasn’t quite right. Better to fail forward fast than to wait until you perfect your vision.
4. Set time limits
It’s not about just wanting to accomplish a goal; it’s also important to define when you want to accomplish it. When do you want to be a published author? When are you planning on achieving your competent communicator designation in Toastmasters? By when do you want to make a million dollars? All of these time frames will help you determine what steps you need to take and by when you need to take them to achieve everything you want in life.