Goal Setting 101: Some Simple Things that Harvard Never Taught Us
... but We Found Out Anyway
Here's a few things you need to know about goals that they are not going to teach you in school.
First: Short term goals are far more likely to be met than long term goals. In fact, achieving small goals one after the other builds self-confidence. When coaches take over professional sports teams and want to turn them around into winners, they do their magic by first giving the players small, short term goals they can succeed in. After awhile, the players believe they can do the bigger things demanded of them.
Moral: For your spiritual practice start with small goals and then build upwards. If you want to change things or have trouble getting started, don't try to be Superman in one day. Start with little achievable bits and pieces, record your goals and efforts in a checklist, and keep at it. Start meditating with only 10 or 15 minutes a day and then expand upon that. First get started, then embellish.
Two: Long term goals that are too big can actually seem so overwhelming that you don't even want to get started. So here's what you do -- don't look at how far you have to go, but at how far you have come.
That's the big trick they don't teach you. Never look at how far you have to go if it will make you depressed. Rather, look at how far you have come. "I may not be a billionaire, but looking around I'm better off than most people in Third world countries." That type of gratefulness keeps away depression as well.
Three: Setting specific goals is the key to all sorts of success. Most folks know the story about the Harvard class of 1954 where they measured those who made goals and those who did not. Each time they grouped the goal-oriented graduates into finer and finer groups ... those who made goals every now and then, on a yearly basis, and on a monthly, weekly or daily basis, each finer subset of individuals ended up making more money, having free time and far more happiness than the others.
The no-goal folks were left out in the cold!
Well they've done it again. In surveying salespeople they've found that 6 out of 10 do not set outcome-based goals at all and this group earns the least amount of all salespeople!. Three out of 10 set earnings goals and as in the Harvard study, this group of folks earns double the income of the no-goals group. Only 1 in 10 people sets specific goals but they earn 3 times as much as those who set no goals at all.
It's Harvard all over again!
Mortal: Set goals. Review them constantly. Work towards them. That's how you'll change your fortune and future.
Four: What's the process for achieving your goals?
Napoleon Hill says to use the following steps: (1) Be specific and fix in your mind exactly what you want, (2) Determine what you're going to have to give for it, (3) Set a date for achieving it that you'll work towards, and mark it down, (4) Create a plan you can work to get to that goal, (5) Write out a clear plan about your goal, how you're going to achieve it, what you'll do for it, etc. and (6) Read that plan aloud, morning and night.
By the way, night time is when you're most suggestible because that's when your alpha waves start kicking in.
Brian Tracy says things just a little bit differently: (1) Decide exactly what you want, (2) Write it down and (3) set a deadline, (4) Make a list of everything you're going to have to do to achieve this goal, (5) Turn that into a plan, (6) Resolve to do something every single day that moves you forward along that plan.
In other words, be proactive.
One more thing -- most all the goal setting experts out there talk about visualizing your goals. Guess what that's all about? Visualization is steadying the mind and cultivating a mental state called samadhi. If you achieve mental samadhi, or concentration, you can achieve anything. That's the state which generates the superpowers of achievement, but the New Age folks and the positive thinking crowd don't know about samadhi at all.
What this means is that people who meditate and are somewhat skilled at quieting their minds to achieving concentration, can be more skilled at achieving goals than others if they set their minds to it. In fact, you can use your mental abilities to become more effective in the world to help others. So you don't have to remain poor to succeed at meditation but can cultivate in the business world, make lots of money, and use it for charitable causes. There's no conflict there at all.
Five: Some helpful hints -- read the story of Liao Fan, which is popular on the internet, and Benjamin's Franklin's journal of moral improvement to learn about how to change your life. Besides goal setting you need merit plus meditation.
Naturally you need a method and the discipline of following that method or plan to achieve what you want. So how do you do that?
Here's the key ... You do not respect what you don't inspect, so find some way to measure progress toward your goals which you'll look at on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Keep that reminder ever in front of you and every day, work on something that moves you closer to your desired achievement. That's the basis of being proactive.