Perhaps the greatest discovery in human history is the power of your mind to create almost every aspect of your life. Everything you see around you in the man-made world began as a thought or an idea in the mind of a single person before it was translated into reality. Everything in your life started as a thought, a wish, a hope, or a dream, either in your mind or in the mind of someone else. Your thoughts are creative. Your thoughts form and shape your world and everything that happens to you.
The great summary statement of all religions, philosophies, metaphysics, psychology, and success is this: You become what you think about most of the time. Your outer world ultimately becomes a reflection of your inner world. Your outer world of experience mirrors back to you what you think about most of the time. Whatever you think about continuously emerges in your reality.
Many thousands of successful people have been asked what they think about most of the time. The most common answer given by successful people is that they think about what they want—and how to get it—most of the time.
Unsuccessful, unhappy people think and talk about what they don’t want most of the time. They talk about their problems and worries and who is to blame for their situation most of the time. But successful people keep their thoughts and conversations focused on their most intensely desired goals. They think and talk about what they want most of the time.
Living without clear goals is like driving in a thick fog. No matter how powerful or well engineered your car, you drive slowly, hesitantly, making little progress on even the smoothest road. Deciding upon your goals clears the fog immediately and allows you to focus and channel your energies and abilities toward what you really want. Clear goals enable you to step on the accelerator of your own life and race ahead rapidly toward achieving more of what you want in life.
You take a homing pigeon out of its roost, put it in a cage, cover the cage with a blanket, put the cage in a box, and then place the box into a closed truck cab. You can then drive a thousand miles in any direction. If you then open the truck cab, take out the box, take off the blanket, and let the homing pigeon out of the cage, the homing pigeon will fly up into the air, circle three times, and then fly unerringly back to its home roost a thousand miles away. No other creature on earth has this incredible cybernetic, goal seeking function—except for you.
You have the same goal-achieving ability as the homing pigeon but with one marvellous addition. When you are absolutely clear about your goal, you do not even have to know how to achieve it. By simply deciding exactly what you want, you will begin to move unerringly toward your goal, and your goal will start to move unerringly toward you. At exactly the right time and in exactly the right place, you and the goal will meet.
Because of this incredible cybernetic mechanism located deep within your mind, you almost always achieve your goals, whatever they are. If your goal is to get home at night and watch television, you will almost certainly achieve it. If your goal is to create a wonderful life full of health, happiness, and prosperity, you will achieve that as well. Like a computer, your goal-seeking mechanism is non-judgmental. It works automatically and continuously to bring you what you want, regardless of what you program into it.
Nature doesn’t care about the size of your goals. If you set little goals, your automatic goal-achieving mechanism will enable you to achieve little goals. If you set large goals, this natural capability will enable you to achieve large goals. The size, scope, and detail of the goals you choose to think about most of the time are completely up to you.
Why People Don’t Set Goals? Here is a good question: If goal achievement is automatic, why do so few people have clear, written, measurable, time bounded goals that they work toward each day? This is one of the great mysteries of life. I believe there are four reasons why people don’t set goals.
They Think Goals Aren’t Important: First, most people don’t realize the importance of goals. If you grow up in a home where no one has goals or you socialize with a group where goals are neither discussed nor valued, you can very easily reach adulthood without knowing that your ability to set and achieve goals will have more of an effect on your life than any other skill. Look around you. How many of your friends or family members are clear and committed to their goals?
They Don’t Know How: The second reason that people don’t have goals is because they don’t know how to set them in the first place. Even worse, many people think that they already have goals. Alas! What they really have is a series of wishes or dreams, like “Be happy” or “Make a lot of money” or “Have a nice family life.
But these are not goals at all. They are merely fantasies that are common to everyone. A goal, however, is something distinctly different from a wish. It is clear, written, and specific. It can be quickly and easily described to another person. You can measure it, and you know when you have achieved it or not.
It is possible to earn an advanced degree at a leading university without ever receiving one hour of instruction on goal setting. It is almost as if the people who determine the educational content of our schools and universities are completely blind to the importance of goal setting in achieving success later in life. And of course, if you never hear about goals until you are an adult, as happened to me, you will have no idea how important they are to everything you do.
They Have a Fear of Failure: The third reason that people don’t set goals is because of the fear of failure. Failure hurts. It is emotionally and often financially painful and distressing. All of us have experienced failure from time to time. Each time, we resolve to be more careful and avoid failure in the future. Many people then make the mistake of unconsciously sabotaging themselves by not setting any goals at which they might fail. They end up going through life functioning at far lower levels than are truly possible for them.
They Have a Fear of Rejection: The fourth reason that people don’t set goals is because of the fear of rejection. People are afraid that if they set a goal and are not successful, others will criticize or ridicule them. This is one of the reasons why you should keep your goals confidential when you begin to set goals. Don’t tell anyone. Let others see what you have accomplished, but don’t tell them in advance. What they don’t know can’t hurt you.
Mark McCormack, in his book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, tells of a Harvard study conducted between 1979 and 1989. In 1979, the graduates of the MBA program at Harvard were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”
It turned out that only 3 percent of the graduates had written goals and plans. Thirteen percent had goals, but they were not in writing. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, aside from getting out of school and enjoying the summer.
Ten years later, in 1989, the researchers interviewed the members of that class again. They found that the 13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. But most surprisingly, they found that the 3 percent of graduates who had clear, written goals when they left Harvard were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates all together. The only difference between the groups was the clarity of the goals they had for themselves when they graduated.
Earl Nightingale once wrote, “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal, or goal.”
You feel truly happy only when you are making progress, step-by-step, toward something that is important to you.
Viktor Frankly, the founder of Logo therapy, wrote that the greatest need of human beings is for a sense of meaning and purpose in life, for a goal to work toward.
Goals give you that sense of meaning and purpose, a clear sense of direction. As you move toward your goals you feel happier and stronger. You feel more energized and effective. You feel more competent and confident in yourself and your abilities. Every step you take toward your goals increases your belief that you can set and achieve even bigger goals in the future.
More people today fear change and worry about the future than at any other time in our history. One of the great benefits of goal setting is that goals enable you to control the direction of change in your life. Goals enable you to ensure that the changes in your life are largely self-determined and self-directed. Goals enable you to instil meaning and purpose into everything you do.
One of the most important teachings of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, was that man is a teleological organism. The Greek word teleos means “goals” or “purpose.” Aristotle concluded that all human action is purposeful in some way. You are happy only when you are doing something that is moving you toward something that you want. The great questions then become: What are your goals? What purposes are you aiming at? Where do you want to end up at the end of the day?
Setting goals, working toward them day by day, and ultimately achieving them is the key to happiness in life. Goal setting is so powerful that the very act of thinking about your goals makes you happy, even before you have taken the first step toward achieving them.
To unlock and unleash your full potential, you should make a habit of daily goal setting and achieving for the rest of your life. You should develop a laser-like focus so that you are always thinking and talking about what you want rather than what you don’t want. You must resolve, from this moment forward, to become a goal-seeking organism, like a guided missile or a homing pigeon, moving unerringly toward the goals that are important to you.
There is no greater guarantee of a long, happy, healthy, and prosperous life than for you to be continually working on being, having, and achieving more and more of the things you really want. Clear goals enable you to release your full potential for personal and professional success. Goals enable you to overcome any obstacle and to make your future achievement unlimited.
(Author is a freelance writer from Raiyar Doodhpathri and can be reached at [email protected])