Eliminating Obstacles: Developing Goals That Work

Posted by Joseph Sherren on January 11, 2016

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” And now is the best time of the year to do that. At a year-beginning meeting, I once had a participant say, “But we spoke about this last year.” My response was, “Great, so how did you do on those goals?” He admitted he hadn’t actually documented any goals, so had nothing to report. “Then isn’t it great,” I replied, “that you have another opportunity to transform your life.”
But, why didn’t he? Especially when there is myriad research done over many years that shows your life can truly be improved by doing that one simple thing. One well known example is a 1979 study, where interviewers asked Harvard MBA graduates, “Do you have clear goals, written down and a documented plan to accomplish them?”  The response, as reported by Mark H. McCormack in his book, “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School,” was as follows:

  • 84 percent had no specific goals
  • 13 percent had goals, but had not written down
  • 3 percent had written goals and a documented action plan

After 10 years the results were astonishing:

  • The 13 percent who had goals were earning on average twice as much as those who had no goals at all.
  • The 3 percent who had clear written goals were earning on average 10 times as much as the other 97 percent.

Occasionally someone will say, “Well, I don’t measure my success in terms of money.” Fine, but it is an easy way to tangibly measure accomplishment. The point is, no matter how you measure success, you are significantly more likely to achieve it if you write it down, record a plan and track your activities.

So why doesn’t everyone do it? In his book “Success Principles,” Jack Canfield says that once you set a goal, there are three things that will stop you:

  1. Considerations: You may start thinking: now I have to work harder, now I will have to get up earlier, or I will not have as much time with my friends or family. These are self-limiting thoughts that can all be mitigated.  These thoughts come from your subconscious and it is good to bring them to the surface, because if left in there, will sabotage you. Bring these thoughts to full awareness to move past them.
  2. Fears: You may experience the fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of losing your job or friends. Acknowledge your fears and understand that they are part of the process. Perhaps talk to someone you trust about their experiences.
  3. Roadblocks: These are generally external matters, obstacles that the world throws at you. Such as, you do not have the resources, you require investors, or you will need to move. They are real circumstances that you need to overcome.

When any of these obstacles arise, most people give up – Don’t! Realize this is a natural part of the goal setting process. It is these thoughts which have been holding you back all your life. Instead, welcome them as obstacles that can build character and make you stronger.

My suggestion for managers this week: “Set time aside to create your own personal and professional goals, then help your employees to do the same.” I wish you all a healthy, happy, and successful New Year.

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