By Rhoberta Shaler, Ph.D.
Goal setting seems to be a perennially hot topic! Could it be that you hear and, perhaps, read about it so often because it’s a subject that is easy to know about and difficult to practice?
It would be very surprising to find an adult in the work force who has not heard about goal setting. A Harvard study of their graduates over thirty years found that there were only a small percentage (3%) of them who actually wrote down their goals–and these were the most successful! You can be certain that every one of those students had repeatedly heard the value of goal setting. Yet only 3% actually wrote down their goals consistently. Imagine what you can do if you both write down your goals and, then, focus on them consistently every day, every week, until they are accomplished!
What is it that causes what I call the “New Year’s Resolution Syndrome”? You probably know the one I’m thinking of. People make resolutions, work hard at them for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, and then forget them. Next year, they make the same New Year’s Resolutions. That is the syndrome. It is self- defeating and self-sabotaging. So why do so many people do it?
They may be making goals that are too global, too extensive, too unrealistic for the time frame, body type or current finances. That is not to say that they are not worthy goals. They need to be broken apart into smaller, more specific, attainable pieces. The elephant analogy is still the best one I know of to illustrate good goal setting. You probably know it. “How do you eat an elephant? One spoonful at a time.” So it is with goals. Make spoon size goals and accomplished them easily. One you’ve mastered this, get a bigger spoon!
You may have too many people in your life who consciously or subconsciously are unwilling or unable to support you to reach your goals. On my tape, Creating Your Life: You are the Master Mind of Your Masterpiece, I talk about your personal “tribes”. If you have created agreement among your tribe members that you are a certain way, or you do certain things.
They are comfortable with you as long as you are and do those things. They may even be enthusiastic about your desire to change something or accomplish something new. Just know that, as you change and accomplish, they may not like it. They may even go so far as to put you down in small ways or make light of your accomplishments. Do you know why? It is usually because your changes and accomplishments remind them, on some levels, that they could be doing it, too…and they aren’t! So surround yourself with people who want you to have what you want for yourself. Be mutually supportive and you’ll all achieve your highest goals. This is called master minding.
You may have filled your schedule with so many things that there is little room for your goals to grow. We must be careful not to confuse busyness with progress. Be selective about how you use your time and what you focus on. Success often comes when you know what to leave out, rather than what to include in your life. Notice, too, how much time you spend on trivia. It has a nasty way of taking your attention from what you say you want to focus on, doesn’t it? Have you ever just “had” to clean your office before you could begin your project? Then you know how this works!
Goal setting is like the pig and chicken who were out for a walk in town early one morning. The chicken became really excited when she saw a sign that said “Ham & Eggs, $2.99”. She said to the pig, “Look, we’ve got double billing again.” The pig grunted and said, “That’s all right for you to say. For you, it’s all in a day’s work. For me, it’s total commitment.” Goal setting is all in a day’s work. Goal achievement is total commitment.
© Rhoberta Shaler, Ph.D. August, 1999 All rights reserved. Article used with permission. Rhoberta Shaler, Ph.D., is a Speaker, Author, Consultant & Executive Coach that helps to build cooperation and capability within organizations and individuals.