Goal Setting for Success

You can achieve anything you want in life with a clear idea and an action plan for accomplishment

By Donald J. Strankowski
Ascend Career and Life Strategies, LLC

Goal setting is the number one common denominator among all highly successful people.  Over the past 13 years, in my research of highly successful men and women, I have found that they all share one common trait: They are all aggressive goal setters.  They all had a clear vision for what is was they wanted to accomplish and backed it with an action plan.

The practice of goal setting can have a profound effect on both your personal and professional objectives.  The ability to set goals and make plans for their accomplishment is integral to your success in anything in life that is worth pursuing.  Developing this one skill will do more to ensure your success than anything else you could ever do.

You and I are goal-centered people.  Everyone essentially is; it’s the way we’re programmed.  We are all motivated by purpose and desire.  We are never really happy or fulfilled unless we are moving toward the accomplishment of something that’s important to us.  Every one of us needs something to strive for; something to accomplish that’s important and how we see ourselves.  Anything less and we feel uninspired and bored.

Visualizing what it was I wanted to accomplish and then devising an action plan for doing so has made all the difference in my life, both personally and professionally.  Navigating my business to profitability, having my first book published, embarking on a successful motivational speaking career, and other personal accomplishments have all followed the pattern of being clear on what I wanted to achieve, penciling out an action plan and then persisting until complete.  I am living proof that goal setting can change a person’s life.

Most people simply don’t know how to set goals.  You can go through years of education and earn a college degree, but never once receive information on goal setting, even though goal setting is more important to your success than any other factor.

Many people I speak with in my coaching practice are unclear and fuzzy about what it is they actually want to achieve.  Take some time and do the homework—on yourself—first.  Decide what it is you really want.  Perhaps it’s a higher paying job or maybe you’re aspiring to make a career change.  Maybe you’ve got the “entrepreneurial itch” and have always dreamed of starting your own business.  Whatever you dream or aspire to do, the starting point of all success is to first clearly identify your objective.

Some people avoid writing and setting goals because they’re afraid they won’t reach them.  So what!  If you don’t set goals you surely won’t reach them because you won’t have them in the first place.  If you miss a goal, move the date or rewrite the goal.  Use your failures and setbacks as advantages and move ahead—again.

Here is a 7-Step Action Plan for achieving any goal you set for yourself:

  1. Be Precise: Decide exactly what you want.  Visualize it in vivid detail—clarity is key. Emotionalize this mental picture by creating the feeling that you already have it.  Your goals must also be realistic or they will be rejected by your subconscious.
  2. Write Them Down and Post Them: When you write your goals down on paper, you actually program these goals into your subconscious mind and begin to attract the people, ideas and circumstances needed in achieving your goals.

Important guidelines for writing your goals:

  1. They must be written in the present tense (I have, I earn, I am, etc.)  Your subconscious mind takes things literally.  It does not respond to past or future tenses.  “I would like to earn more money in the future” can be written more decisively to say “I earn $50,000 per year.”
  2. They must be stated in the positive.  Writing, “I will be a good salesperson” won’t work well if it works at all.  Try writing something like, “On or before (date) I am the top salesperson in my company.”
  3. Be as specific as possible and have a target date.  A goal of “more money” is not likely to produce much of a result; it’s too vague.  A better example would be, “I’m the top salesperson in my company, earning an additional $1000 per month on or before July 1.”
  4. Make a Plan: A solid written plan will reduce the execution time by 90 percent.  Ask yourself, what is the most important thing you must do in order to achieve your goal?  Make a list of activities arranged by time and sequence.  Think of everything you can and must do in order to achieve your goal.  Arrange this list into short and medium term goals and assign a timeframe to each.  Break out this list into a daily to-do list.
  5. Do Something Every Day: By doing something every day that moves you closer to achieving your goals, you develop the power of momentum.
  6. Manage Failure and Setbacks: It takes courage and character to become a success.  Learn from your failures and setbacks and provide for them in your plan.  Think of all the possible obstacles you may encounter and a plan for overcoming them.  Failure can be an opportunity for understanding and avoiding larger mistakes down the road.  The roadblocks you encounter are simply there to give you the knowledge and experience needed to accomplish your goal.  Failure and setbacks can also act as the catalyst to accomplishing even greater goals in the future.  You will never achieve any major goal without first passing the persistence test and experiencing failure.
  7. Build a Support Network: By telling people what you want to do and accomplish you help keep yourself accountable for staying on track.  By talking about what you want, you also program your desires deep into your subconscious mind.  Your support network can also act as a sounding board when things get in your way.
  8. Read, Revise, and Rewrite: Goals are written on paper, not chiseled in granite.  Read your goals on a regular basis, preferably every morning, and revise them as needed.  Be persistent but flexible concerning the path you take in achieving your goals.  If you miss an end date—so what!  Revise your goal and keep going.

Decide exactly what it is you want to accomplish.  Do not wait for optimal conditions because they’re won’t be any.  Simply decide what it is you want, develop an action plan and get started.  Revise your plan as needed and mange your failures and set back’s—this is a necessary part of the learning process.  Start today by doing something that will move you in the direction of your main goals and aspirations!

Donald J. Strankowski Jr. is founder and president of Ascend Career and Life Strategies, a training and consulting firm for businesses, professionals, executives.  He works out of Boulder, Colorado and can be contacted at 303-245-7049, via email at [email protected], or on the web at www.AscendCareers.net
Just Published!  Get Hired!  10 Simple Steps for Wining the Job You Desire—in Any Economy
by Donald J. Strankowski
Available at the Boulder Bookstore, Tattered Cover, and online at Amazon.com