“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Happy new year!
For the first time, I really set goals in 2014. Real goals. Not just vague resolutions. Solid, specific goals. More like commitments. And it worked. Better than I thought possible.
Sure, everyone makes some vague, hopeful, desperate “New Year’s Resolutions.” But I’m talking about setting real goals. Writing them down. Getting really serious.
In 2006, USA Today did a study of people who had set New Year’s resolutions. They separated the people who had simply thought of their goals and the people who had actually written them down as a concrete commitment. At the end of the year, only 4% of those who simply stated their resolutions had kept them. But 44% of the ones who had written down their goals had accomplished them.
Why is it that getting serious about goals make such a big difference?
1. Goals Increase Clarity and Focus
In his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt writes: “Most people don’t bother to write down their goals. Instead, they drift through life aimlessly, wondering why their life lacks purpose and significance.”
One of the biggest benefits of creating and following specific goals is that it gives you clarity and focus, in the moment and over a long period of time.
It is virtually impossible to make progress when you do not know your target. Progress is slow when your target is vague and fuzzy. And there are endless distractions around you to steal your attention. But when you carefully define your goals your target is as clear as can be, distractions are obvious, and you can easily determine the next steps you should take.
2. Goals Increase Motivation and Urgency
When you daydream, the wish is there. There is even a little motivation. But daydreams are weak.
If instead you have written out exactly what you expect of yourself, in no uncertain terms, the motivation comes much easier. I committed to this, you say. This was my plan. I know exactly where I am going. All I have to do is keep walking.
A thoroughly planned goal is also scheduled. You determine when you want it accomplished. The excitement of the desired result and the the time limit you set together push you to work quickly, with focus and efficiency.
3. Goals Enable Accountability and Self-Management
I suspect this is the reason most people pretend they are not yet ready for goals or aware of their power: Goals mean being accountable, even if only to yourself.
By writing down goals, you set up for yourself a certain kind of accountability. You have a yardstick by which to measure your productivity and effectiveness. I told myself I would do this thing before that day.
Think of setting and reviewing goals as a personal manager’s meeting. And don’t be afraid to invite others–the more accountability, the better. And the more you can share your enthusiasm, the better, too.
4. Goals Keep You on Track When Things Get Hard
When you struggle with discouragement, lack of confidence, and life’s rough patches, daydreams carry no power. But if you have determined your goals, you have two boosters to keep you going: You promised yourself you would do the work. And you know the result of accomplishing the goal will be exactly what you need and want.
5. Goals Make Big Things Happen
By increasing your clarity and focus, your motivation and urgency, your self-management and accountability, and your inspiration to keep going even when you don’t feel like it, goals maximize your productivity–they make big things happen!
“The very act of taking the time to decide what you really want in each area of your life can change your life completely,” says Brian Tracy.
Do you want to accomplish big things? Then set goals, follow them, review them, adjust them if necessary, complete them, and then set some more.