There was a purported study inaccurately attributed to Harvard or Yale about about the impact of setting goals. The ‘study’ concluded that 83% of the population didn’t have identified goals. It further showed that 14% had goals but only a mere 3% of the population had written theirs down. It went on to say that years later, the 3% with written goals had earned 10 times more than everyone else. (The statistics vary based on whose interpretation of the ‘study’ you read.) As it turns out, that study never happened.
‘Facts’ aside, it reinforces the concept of writing your goals down.
An actual study conducted later by Gail Matthews, PhD at Dominican University revealed 3 important conclusions:
1. Be clear on your goals and write them down.
2. Develop a plan on how you are going to achieve them.
3. Develop an accountability mechanism.
I haven’t conducted a study. However, I have been active in the performance improvement and performance enhancement field for a surprisingly long time (read, “decades”).
Here’s my take on the 5 critical components of what it takes to make magic happen.
1. Have a clear goal
OK, this is a pretty consistent first step across all platforms so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. Yet it is still one many people skip. Don’t be one of them. ‘Nuf said?
Know where your end destination is, whether its later today or later in life. Pick a specific, measurable ‘what’ you will accomplish and a ‘by when’ it will be done.
2. Know your “Why”
Knowing why you want to achieve the goal is at least as important a motivating factor as knowing what it is you want. Accomplishing goals, especially big, hairy ones, will likely take an inordinate amount of effort. You’ll probably NOT have smooth sailing along the way, so having a deep urge, a deep longing, an important reason to continue in the face of all of the crap on the road is critical.
3. Feel your success
Imagine how you’ll feel once your end goal is reached. Will you feel fulfilled, safe, secure, happy, proud, satisfied, excited, peaceful, powerful, confident? What ever the emotion, start ‘practicing’ feeling it NOW, even before you have the ‘thing’. Don’t wait until you get there, feeling that ‘future’ emotion now will make life more enjoyable, help support your motivation factor and actually help draw in the resources, ideas and connections to help you get there.
Time will pass more easily if you’re not waiting for the future to feel good. Be that feeling now.
4. Think about how you’ll make it happen
I was listening to Brian Tracy speak at the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association earlier this month. He had conducted a study of high achievers. He said there were two factors that distinguished top performers from everyone else. First, they had big, clear goals. And, secondly, they thought constantly about how they could achieve them.
I would veer away from the idea of constantly thinking about ‘how’. I would say, constantly focus on the ‘what’ and the ‘feeling’, but allow for the creative process, for divine intervention, coincidence, providence, unexpected inspirations to light the path forward for you.
5. Be happy now
This is related, but slightly different that point 3. The tip here is to focus on things that RIGHT NOW are going well: things your grateful for, things you’re happy about TODAY.
I was listening to Marshall Sylver, host of the Million Dollar Television Network. He was also talking about focus and achieving goals. He said “You get what you focus on.” So instead of focusing on all of your problems, focus on what you want more of in your life.
Pharrel Williams also was definitely on to something with his inspired song, Happy. The words, energy and message resonated with people around the world. The song extols the virtues of being happy.
In one verse, he describes the feeling of letting things roll off his back. “…Here come bad news, talkin’ this and that. Give me all you got, don’t hold it back. I should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine. No offense to you, don’t waste your time. Because I’m happy!”
So, to quote another song from way back, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Focus on what matters. Your goals, your dreams, your happy, grateful, positive feelings and what you want are what really matters.