I really thought long and hard about this page - I know (he said conceitedly) the power of Goal Setting - but equally do not want to seem patronising of others who have yet to learn of the technique. It is a difficult balance because although the system is so simple and so effective, it is still very hard to teach most people new tricks.
This is especially true, if they have no reason to trust you yet - even when the information is free and easily understood. I decided however that as most people wouldn't click to this page (so oblivious to all of this), the few that are curious enough to get this far, can make their own informed decision in about five more minutes. Sound reasonable?
If you are already a goal setter, you will know how valuable this is - unless you want to have someone preach to the converted, please feel free to go back and resume where you left off. You already have the foundations in place - now just keep working through your goals and let us know when you are ready to be published.
I have often thought that schools are remiss when they do not hammer home the importance of Goal-Setting in life. It is possibly the most important and reasonably easy "life skill" that someone should learn. A simple but powerful skill that yields results quickly for as long as they choose to use it.
For most of my adult life, I had typically never written goals down - or at least only in the vaguest of detail - and hardly ever bothered to review them. As I mentioned earlier, this simply isn't taught to most people. As such I had “coasted along” for the most part. Around the beginning of February 2006 I asked a very successful friend of the family what "tricks and tips" he could offer me in the art of making money. Among the fairly obvious (work hard, keep your word, offer what someone wants, not what you want to sell, etc) he mentioned in passing "Goal Setting". Being a little skeptical but still intrigued, I decided to write my goals down partly as an experiment in its own right - and partly to see if I could stretch my abilities beyond my "comfort zone".
So. How much difference did it make?
In a couple of words, fairly dramatic. From wondering if I would ever manage to invest in property and how I was going to handle a fairly difficult cash-flow situation involving making a payment of £1,000 every month for the next couple of years, it became possible to reduce outgoings by over half and buy an investment property in Egham. Since that time I have bought five more properties and also have a 50% share in a Bed & Breakfast in Wellingborough, set up two other businesses and co-own this one.
What happened? A lot of hard graft and creative thinking - but the most important thing underpinning all of it was a set of WRITTEN goals which I reviewed and updated at least once daily. Difficult goals were broken down into smaller goals until everything was "do-able" without excuses. It didn't make things "easy" but it made them possible with effort.
This isn't a blog about property purchasing or running a B&B, or making laserless tattoo removal machines - it is to try and illustrate how something as simple as writing good, detailed, specific, date annotated goals can help you achieve almost anything that you set your mind to. In 2006 I didn't think I would have a seven figure property portfolio - now at the time of writing (late 2011) I am wondering what goals to set for the next couple of years. When you know what you set yourself to do - you will accomplish, it really is quite rewarding - both mentally and of course, financially.
The cost of keeping goal sheets? Nothing except time - and that is paid back with smarter, more coherent thinking almost from day one - not a bad payback in itself.
What's to lose?
Yet even now, with ZERO risk of ANYTHING - perhaps less than 5% of people reading this will actually have the motivation to try it - and will just pin all their hopes and dreams for the future on some fanciful notion of a "lucky break" - or perhaps even winning a lottery / competition / sweepstake. Somehow, something as simple as this - and as powerful as this - will still take second place to watching some brain-crushing soap opera.
Up for a challenge? Spend perhaps the most valuable hour or two so far this year - in setting your goals on paper / computer. You may need to spend a little while working out what the goals actually are first. Then break them down into tasks which can be completed independently of each other.
So a goal sheet page "Get my first manuscript published" - might end up being broken down into dozens of smaller goals - things before you even set pen to paper might be "identify plot line, establish characters, assemble time line, create chapter guide, forward / intro, story skeleton / framework". Each entry has a line of its own - and a date when you will have achieved this by. Not some time a year away, push yourself - not to the stage where it cannot be done - but where effort does make it attainable.
Goals should be SMART
You can always review (change) a goal if you really need to - or extend your time, but you will gain far more satisfaction from completing a goal on time - it will then make it easier to mentally keep up the momentum to achieve the next goal on time too. Always tick off a completed goal - don't delete it - keep a track of "how you got where you are" - it helps to monitor progress and see results.
Goals for each of the next seven days
An overall target for each of the next six months
An overall target of where you want to be a year from now.
You are on the Internet - so make use of google and search for things like “setting goals” for tips and guidelines (all free). It will almost certainly be the most useful thing you have Googled today. One of the first goals might be "google and research improved goal setting strategies and implement them within 36 hours".
If you do this and review your goals regularly, it is highly probable that you will see positive changes within days - emotional attitude first, then other real (noticeable) changes - you will almost certainly benefit from being more organised and focused from day one.
A good goal for a new person to goal setting might be something like "I will earn an extra £500 within 30 days - and I will spend at least 4 hours per day working to achieve this". This might involve selling some old belongings, doing some overtime at work and getting some home-based work to do in the evenings and weekends.
If you find that goal was too easy, next month, raise the target - but keep it attainable, perhaps allow an extra hour per day.
It may be nothing to do with money, your goal might be to finally get something that has been sapping your enthusiasm for months: I will spend at least two hours every evening either working in the garden or, if raining, clearing out the garage. By the end of next month, I will have the garden rubbish cleared, the new border dug and a clear, clean garage.
Once you get going with goal setting, you will staggered how simple it is to mage a huge difference to your life.
Of course, most folks will still do what 97% of the population did in the Harvard study. Either they will reckon it isn't for them or they will "get around to it soon" - perhaps when it isn't quite so hot / cold / warm / humid to work in. After all, that episode of BanalStreet tonight really is un-missable and there's some cake that needs eating too.
Forgive me! That was terribly patronising - but for many people, they really will mean to do this - and it is important to them - but sadly it will never quite happen as they haven't time "just now". Amazingly though, they WILL find time to watch StreetEnders 5 nights a week.
Perhaps one or two people in a hundred will read this and actually do something about it - and will do it now - before it becomes just another "Ohh yes, I meant to try that....".
Ok, perhaps one.
Just try it for one month - and then see what difference it has made to your progress. When it works, impress it upon your children too if you have them - someone has to teach them the powerful shortcuts in life and important though it is, a half day course in goal setting which could change their lives, simply isn't on the school syllabus.
Thanks for reading and good luck - whether you choose to hope for it - or make it.