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The Power of the Goal

by David DeFord

Following his premature birth, our grandson Wyatt experienced terrible trauma. He struggled for every breath. The nurses jabbed him with needles in his head, his fingers, his navel, and his foot. He had tubes down his throat forcing nourishment and oxygen into him. So many tubes and wires grew out of his body we couldn’t hold him. He lie in the incubator inert and helpless.

After Wyatt stabilized the staff began to remove the life-support systems. Finally, they gave him a shot that erased his memory. In his mind, the weeks of trauma never occurred. He can now live without the emotional scars of fighting for his survival.

I wish I could give you a shot to make you forget your previous goal failures. Then you could set your goals with greater confidence. Have you given up on goal setting? Rather than adjust your approaches, have you stopped trying? Or do you set the same goals every January and find yourself at year’s end no closer to realizing them?

I invite you to consider again the great power of the goal. Forget the past. Let’s reconsider together how goal setting can transform our lives.

In 1953, Yale researchers interviewed that year’s graduating class. They asked a series of questions, but one question they asked concerns us here, “Do you have a clear, specific set of goals with a written plan for their achievement?” Less than three percent had written goals with a plan.

Twenty years later, researchers contacted again the members of the class of ’53. They followed-up with the students to see where they had taken their lives. Several subjective measures showed that the small percent who started their post-academic careers with written goals and plans appeared happier, more well-adjusted, and more excited about their lives as a whole. But the most telling objective measure told the researchers that that small group of early goal setters were worth more financially than the entire other 97 percent—combined.

Read the last sentence again.

Does goal setting translate into power in the lives of people? Can you transform yourself from a “go-with-the-flow” kind of person into one who makes a life for yourself? Of course you can. But first you must learn from your past failures, accept your part in failing to achieve your goals, and make new plans.

What kept you from reaching your past goals? Rudy Giuliani said, “When you confront a problem, you begin to solve it.” Did you back slide, get discouraged, and give up? Did someone convince you that you couldn’t make it? Did you run into opposition? Did you fail to keep yourself motivated? Think hard. Don’t look for excuses, look for the real reasons.

That hurts doesn’t it? But now you can begin to rise from the ashes of your past failures and immerge as a new person ready to tackle even greater goals. Let the past die. Look with vision to your future. With written goals you can build a plan that will help you transform yourself into the person you want to become.

In your plan, identify:
   1. Why you want to accomplish the goal
   2. Who is counting on you to succeed
   3. How you can measure your progress
   4. Where you need to be on each goal at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter, and at the end of the year
   5. The arguments your lazy self will make to discourage you
   6. How you will answer those arguments in number five
   7. What you will do to keep yourself motivated
   8. How you will keep sharp your focus on your goals

Set goals for personal improvement and spirituality, family, career and financial, and community involvement. Success in one of these areas of your life will support your growth in the other areas. Spiritual growth also improves your family life and your career. Every area of your life is related.

Evaluate your progress often—weekly if possible. If you find slow progress on a goal, look at your implementation plan. Do you need to make adjustments to your plan? Are you really following it? What accounts for the slow progress? Do all you can to get back on track.

Sharpen your focus. In the past, you probably set your goals and mostly forgot about them until the next January. Now you have the opportunity to keep your goals in front of you, to focus on them until you accomplish them.

Goal achievement is the fundamental key to any lifelong success plan. Learn to meet your goals and you will learn to live the great life. You can stop settling for less than your dreams.

Don’t let your past failures hold your future hostage.

Related Quotes

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Margaret Thatcher

Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street. Zig Ziglar

You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own. Mark Victor Hansen

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you. Not much. Jim Rohn

Life is not a success-only journey. Even the best-laid plans sometimes must be altered and changed. Dr. Phil McGraw

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