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CREATING PURPOSE THROUGH GOAL SETTING

Imagine going on a road trip without a map or GPS to guide you to your desired destination.  You would get lost and it would take you much longer to arrive to where you wanted to go (and probably several useless detours, and money wasted on extra gas).  Living life without goals is pretty much the same thing.  People who are not setting goals are living life without a GPS system.  When you set a clear measurable goal, you will create a vision for your life, purpose for your actions, and you will undoubtedly arrive at your desired destination.

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There was an eye-popping study from Harvard that looked at the impact of writing down goals (from the book, What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack).  Researchers followed Harvard MBA graduates 10 years after they graduated, and what they found was remarkable.

The study was simple, upon completing their degree, each graduate was asked this question:

“Have you set clear, written goals with your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

At the beginning of the study, the researchers found:

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

10 years later they interviewed these graduates again, and the results were staggering:

  • The 13% of the students who had goals were earning on average twice as much as the 84% who did not set goals.
  •  The 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, 10 times as much as the other 97% put together.

Wow, right?!  Let’s put that into perspective… 97% were making on average $50K per year, and 3% (who were writing down goals) were making $500K per year… that makes things pretty obvious.  When you have a clear focus on what you want to accomplish and think about it everyday, the likelihood that you will achieve it significantly increases.  This approach helps you answer this important question each day: Is what I’m doing right now going to help me achieve my goal?  

This is your internal GPS (Goal Performance System)…similar to what you use when you drive, but this one is for your journey in life.  If the actions and habits you consistently perform daily are not helping you reach your goal, than you probably shouldn’t spend too much time with those tasks.  We all get side tracked every now and then, but those who write down their goals and focus on achieving them each day, are much more likely to stay on the path to success.

The first time I remember writing down my goals was going into my senior football season in high school.  I wrote down a team goal and a personal goal.  My goal was for our team to go to the state playoffs and that I would earn All-State honors.  I wrote these statements in a note card and taped it above my closet, so I’d look at it everyday before I got dressed.  So guess what happened?  Despite having a new coach, and losing the majority of our starters from the year before, we made it to the State Quarterfinals and I earned multiple All-State honors from several news outlets including the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune.  It’s one thing to have a goal, but you really have to believe that you can achieve it that makes it powerful.  I remember visualizing our team playing in the state playoffs, and also seeing my name in the paper on the All-State Team often throughout that season.  I was so pumped when it actually happened. 

I’ve seen my sales career greatly benefit from writing down my goals.  For the past 2 years (since I changed companies), I have really made this aspect of my business planning a big deal.  Each year, I write down how much money I want to make, what place in the rankings I want to finish, and how many customer orders I want to receive (monthly and for the year).  This formula has put me up on stage at our last two National Sales Meetings including a Rookie of the Year Award in 2014  and a Top Performer Award in 2015.  I’ve made more income than I’ve ever made in my life and I truly feel like my lens and perspective on what I need to accomplish each day is more clear then ever.

We can apply goal setting in our lives in more areas than just work or athletics…our marriage/relationships, parenting, our friendships, volunteering, and our hobbies all could benefit from writing down goals and looking at them each day.  So my challenge for you today during this 30 Days of Gratitude and Service is to write down 3 goals:

  • Monthly goal
  • Year goal
  • A long term goal (at least 3-10 years out)

Write it down somewhere that you can look at it everyday.  This vision and road map will give you the direction and focus you need to be the best version of yourself and accomplish your dreams.  Good luck…I know you can do it!!!

TIP: Use this SMART format when writing down your goals.  Check back in for my next post on the power that belief and visualization has on making your goals a reality!

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