January brings with it a sense of newness. The old has gone. The new is come. We have a clean slate. It seems like anything is possible.
One way that I tap the powerful sense of expectancy at the birth of another year is by setting goals. I’ll have to admit, over the years, I have been a yo-yo goal setter. Some years I do, some years I don’t.
This year I dug into it with intention and great focus. Here are a couple of things that I’ve observed that have helped me renew my commitment to have goals.
Firstly, I’ve noticed that the people who accomplish the most in business and life set goals. One of my best friends gets very intentional about setting goals each year. His faithful practice in the area has resulted in notable growth in his personal life and business. For him, it has become an annual process that serves to clarify his focus and direct his energy throughout the coming year.
Author Tom Corely has done some extensive research to determine the differences in behaviors between the wealthy and the poor. For five years, Tom studied the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty. His findings are noteworthy, and one of the key differences that he discovered was in the area of goal setting. He found that 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
I have come to realize that part of my hesitance in goal setting is the way that I view success and failure. If I set a goal, then I either successfully accomplish it, or I don’t, and if I don’t, then I’m a failure, right? At times I have felt this way. The logical conclusion to this way of thinking is – Why set goals, they just serve to set me up for failure. If I don’t set goals, then I won’t fall short – because there is no standard for measurement.
Here is the change in thinking that I’ve had about goals. Instead of setting me up for failure, goals actually determine the direction and motivation for my future success. If I set a goal that stretches me, that challenges me to become and do more in an important area of my life, then I’m well on my way to success. If we don’t set our sights on what we truly want to accomplish – the odds of failing to achieve our desires are REALLY high. On the other hand, if we set our sights on what we truly want and articulate that through a written goal, our odds of significant progress go WAY up!
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” What if we get to the end of this year and look back at our goals and find the we did not fully reach our stated goals? I can almost guarantee that even in this case, you will have accomplished much more than if you had not set your goals at all.
Could it be that when we review our goals we should look at how far we’ve come instead of only where we want to end up? Let’s give ourselves permission to change the way we think about goal setting. Consider setting some big goals this year – and anticipate celebrating your progress at the end of the year.
In my next post, we’ll continue our focus on powerful goal setting.