Part 2 – Goal Setting

I love reading parables which are stories that teach a lesson! I recall one that in essence said an airplane is never perfectly on course. It has a perfect flight plan and even with an experienced pilot and crew, it is affected by external forces like wind and turbulence making it impossible to stay on course. The lesson is simple. In our lives, we are the pilot, the flight plan is our goals, and the external factors are always affecting us. The question becomes what are we doing to make course corrections? Think about it.

Let me relay another interesting story. A study was done of Ivy League students. There were three groups as I recall. The researcher built those groups based on students who had no definable goals (dreams), students who had goals but never wrote them down, and students who had goals and wrote them down. Apparently, the largest group with no goals ended up graduating and making about 1% of the entire income of the students in the study. Those with goals (about 20% of the group I believe) ended up making more than twice the income of the first group even though they were a much small group! The most memorable point was that the smallest group (about 1% of the study) ended up making more than all of the others combined. Wow that is an amazing correlation! Consider it for a moment.

There are dozens of success stories that you can find on the internet and many of them are about people who just get lucky and win the lottery or something fairly random and unpredictable. I have nothing against those folks but let’s face it…we love to figure out what makes things tick in America and that means mastering a system. So let’s talk about goals for a minute.

If you think goal setting is a waste of time then just go ahead and click back on Facebook or Twitter because this really isn’t for you. If you think you might learn just one interesting thing then stick with me and I will get you started on the path that worked for me and for all of those Ivy League graduates from the parable I mentioned earlier.

First thing you need is a piece of paper and a pencil (or a word processing program like MS Word). Go ahead and get it now.

Second thing you need is a reminder of what you are doing. Make a header with these words: Personal Improvement – Dream Big, Set Goals, Write Them Down, and Check Them Often Third thing you need are the categories for YOUR personal improvement (remember that you can only change YOU so make goals you have power over). I use the following but you can make your own if these don’t suit you:

  1. Spiritual Improvement (I am a big fan of God, so this is most important to me but you can set your own priorities).
  2. Family Improvement (This is what I can do to improve family life).
  3. Financial Improvement (How can I improve money making and money management).
  4. Educational Improvement (This might go above #3 in many cases and could include skill training, college classes, or internet research for self-improvement).
  5. Physical Improvement (This can include a fitness program, eating habits, sleep habits etc.).
  6. Material Needs (This can be something like buying your home or a car).
  7. Time Management (This one is crucial and could be #3, but I left it at #7).

Ok, so now you have some categories to brainstorm. Start right now and write the first
thing that comes to mind in each category. You can always go back and delete or add to the list
so just get to writing! (Make 1-2 ideas at a minimum).

Once Brainstorming is done you need to refine the ideas into specific, attainable goals.
Keep them short. We will talk about building a plan of action later. These are just goals and need to be easy to read, recall, and implement. For example: If you wrote down ‘MAKE MORE MONEY’ under Financial Improvement then you need to revise it a little. Get specific. Use a date to accomplish the goal if possible. Maybe it could say work five extra hours of overtime
each week. It might also tie into your Material Needs category so it could say, CUT ‘NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING ON ENTERTAINMENT FOR ONE YEAR TO SAVE FOR A NEW CAR.’ Again, be specific and ensure the goal is attainable. It would be pointless to set a goal that says ‘WORK TRIPLE SHIFTS FOR ONE YEAR.’ When would you sleep?

We are almost done and your goal setting should be coming along nicely. If you are stuck or need a little help just ask. We would love to work with you on a personal basis or you can ask a friend to help. This isn’t a top secret project after all. In fact I always recommend getting a support system in place to help you stay on track…like a co-pilot helping the pilot stay on course!

The last step is to print out your goals, hang them in a conspicuous place, and check them often! This last step is absolutely essential. I recommend that women hang their goals on the mirror where they look when getting ready every morning. This works! For men…well the absolute best place I have found is to hang the goals over the toilet. Yep…you will see them every morning and every night and guess what? Men will read anything at eye level when going to the bathroom. Laugh if you want but I do things that work no matter how bizarre.

One last thing…if you achieve your goal what happens next? Well you check it off, pat yourself on the back and make a new goal. Maybe you saved enough money for that car. Now you can use the same plan to save for the house you want. In addition, there could be the proverbial “storm” that knocks your flight plan off course. Those things happen. If you know where you are NOW and where you want to be then you can just adjust the goal (flight plan) to get you there. Be one of the few who do this simple thing and you will get the results you want.

Curtiss Robinson – Soldier, Mentor, and Martial Artist

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