Before you read this post, I would like for you to think about one of your PAST GOALS and how you ACHIEVED it. Now write it down.
How did you feel when you (a) first set your goal and (b) when you achieved it? What would you consider to be the critical factors that allowed you to achieve this goal?
Now write down your thoughts and feelings about that experience.
I am having you perform this exercise so that you can immerse yourself in that experience. It will become your fallback and foundation for moving forward with your new goals.
Goals are important. As I always say, you can’t get what you want if you do not know what you want.
However, there are three essential elements to achieving these goals. Without them, your success rate of achieving these goals will be much tougher, if not impossible.
The first critical element is to WRITE DOWN your goals.
I apologize if you are already familiar with this Harvard study, but the results are too astounding for me not to share. In this study, Harvard graduate students were asked if they had set clear, written goals for their futures, as well as if they have made specific plans to transform their fantasies into realities.
The result of the study was only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13 percent had goals in their minds but hadn’t written them anywhere and 84 percent had no goals at all.
In which group do you belong?
After 10 years, this group was interviewed again and the conclusion of the study was totally astonishing.
The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals.
The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined.
Pretty impressive, right?
Essential Element #2: WRITE DOWN your ACTION STEPS
The part of the Harvard study that is often overlooked is the following. The students were asked if they had made specific plans to turn their goals into a reality. In other words, HOW were they going to make this happen?
It is not enough write down your goal. You need to have a plan of action for achieving this goal.
It is like saying your will lose 10 pounds, but do not have a plan for making this happen. Does it mean, you will work out a certain amount of times per week or change your diet?
What is your plan of action?
Essential Element #3: SEE THE OUTCOME.
It is a no-brainer that in order to achieve your goal, you have to roll up your sleeves and JUST DO IT. You have to TAKE ACTION.
That is a given, but it is not essential element #3. It is essential; do not get me wrong. But this posting is about the steps that are often not implemented, which often leads to failure.
At the beginning of this posting, I had you write down an experience where you achieved a goal. As I mentioned, I wanted you to reflect on this experience so that you could inhabit the feeling of success. Looking back, that goal may not seem so difficult now, but at the time, it may have seemed impossible.
Now, spend some time seeing yourself achieve your current goal. Spend time closing your eyes while walking through the process of achieving your goal; see yourself taking action and then ultimately achieving your goal.
One helpful hint to make this possible is to write your goal in the PRESENT TENSE as an AFFIRMATION. For example, instead of writing ‘Lose 10 pounds,’ convert that to ‘I weigh xxx pounds, am toned, and healthy.’
To give a recent example . . . for five weeks, our family has been trying to adopt a puppy. Yes, I know, the “Pandemic Puppy”, which is what made this process so hard. It felt like a full time job for me—researching, inquiring, and following up, only to be disappointed repeatedly. It had taken us a while to get to the point of wanting a dog again. After our dog, Marley, passed away, even entertaining the idea of another dog felt as if I was cheating on her.
I persisted in my puppy search despite being discouraged. However, I honestly believe the last essential element is what got me through. One night, I went to sleep, picturing us having a puppy, playing with it, receiving a call that we had been accepted and we were next on the list for our puppy. It was this image that I focused on while drifting off to sleep. It allowed the idea to FEEL POSSIBLE.
And then within a day – no lie – I received a text that the puppies we had inquired about had been adopted but there were others that we could possibly adopt. Excitedly, I immediately followed up and – thanks to the foster mom, Katie, who advocated on our behalf – we have our new wonderful, heart-thief puppy.
As we approach the long Memorial Day weekend, spend some time determining your goal and the specific steps needed to make it happen.
Use the Your Goal and Action Steps form to write your goal, steps, and your affirmation statement. Then, post it somewhere you will see it every day to keep you focused.
Cheers to your success!