What’s the Purpose of a Goal?

What’s the point of goal setting? We know we want some outcome, some change in the results in an area of our lives. For example we may want to look better, be more successful, be financially secure, free of debt, etc.

But how exactly do goals play a useful role in achieving that desired outcome?

The answer may seem obvious, but maybe not. Many of us set goals instinctively, without necessarily being clear why. Knowing why, though, can help us realize the greatest possible benefit from the use of a goal.

Knowing how goals help us reach our objective can enable us to make the best use of them. So here it is:

    Goals provide focus.

Goals help us put on the blinders, eliminate the “clutter” we have to deal with day in and day out, so that we can control the outcomes in our life. Setting a goal is a way of telling ourselves “I’m going to give this task a certain amount of my time and energy today, over and above the other demands for my time and attention”.

Most of us have countless demands on our time and attention, particularly if you are ambitious or are inclined to always be seeking improvement. It is only by setting a goal that we are likely to eliminate the non-essentials sufficiently to bring our attention and energy to a single point. That is, to focus.

  • Success demands singleness of purpose. – Vince Lombardi
  • We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are plenty of other leaders who have shared the same belief, but I suspect you don’t need to be convinced. In the same way a golfer targets a green, or a batter never takes his eye off the ball, focus provides the concentration and intensity necessary to produce the desired results.

Achievements in any area of human endeavor generally require 2 things from us:

  1. Focus
  2. Action

I’ve talked at length about the importance of taking action in producing desired outcomes in our life. But if you’ve ever seen the person who was extremely busy, but didn’t have all that much to show for their efforts at the end of the day, you have an example of the benefits of focus. Focus is that magical ingredient that ensures that an objective receives sufficient action until the finish line is reached.

By deciding where to direct our attention and energy (Focus), we can begin to direct the outcomes in our lives. Setting a goal is the process that makes that happen.

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