Select Your Goal

You probably already have a goal in mind. If that’s the case, great … just go to the next step.

Set your goal
If you’re not sure though, consider taking a minute to answer the following questions to be sure you’ve selected the right goal. You know the old adage: Measure twice, cut once.

The Correct Goal Test

  1. Is this the goal you would pick if you knew you couldn’t fail? This is where you determine if you’re “settling”, or if you’ve selected a goal that’s worthy of the investment of time and energy you will make.
  2. Are you thinking big enough? Have you accepted a compromise that’s not really what you want because you don’t believe you can achieve your true goal? If so, read this on beliefs). There is plenty of evidence that there’s very little we can’t achieve provided we have a good plan, enough time to reach it, consistently take action and maintain focus.
  3. Do you have a clear idea what you want your life to be like in 3-5 years? Does this goal contribute to that vision or outcome? Stephen Covey is widely quoted reminding us to “begin with the end in mind”. Being clear about the desired outcome is critical to making decisions about the where to invest your time and effort today.
  4. Are you concerned about ‘perceived” limitations like available time, your age, or physical or financial limitations? Virtually any important goal had these as obstacles to some degree, but determination, a good plan and focused energy over time can overcome those limitations. Don’t let these things cause you to forego the goal you really want to pursue. Instead, focus on a plan with achievable, reasonable incremental milestones. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and continuing those steps in the right direction will lead to the results you are seeking.

Reach your goal
If you answered “yes” to these questions then you’re on the right track. If not, then maybe it’s a good idea to take some time and consider the big picture before you set out on this path.

Dr. Edward C. Barfield of Harvard University concluded that “the long-time perspective is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility”. Long time perspective is more important than education, family background, intelligence, race, connections or nearly any other factor in determining our success in life and at work. Our attitude about time frame affects the goals we should select, and will help guide our behavior and the choices we make today.

Thinking about the long-term impact helps us make better decisions, and should guide out decisions about which goals we select. Brian Tracy often makes this observation: “Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.” So your first step in selecting a goal (assuming it’s an important one) should be to begin thinking long term.

Importance of Your Goal Selection

I say all this simply to emphasize the power of this choice, and it’s importance. You may be about to embark on a journey to accomplish some goal. You are going to invest certainly your energy, possibly some money, certainly your most valuable asset – your time, so you must appreciate the importance of your choice and treat it wisely.

When you’re certain you know what goal you want to pursue, then you’re ready to get on to the criteria for defining the goal, and building a plan for reaching it.

Summary of key points:

  1. Know your destination – begin with the end in mind
  2. Select a goal that truly motivates and excites you, one that you would pick if you knew you couldn’t fail. A common mistake in setting goals is not thinking big enough. Big goals generate excitement and passion – they “matter” enough to capture your attention and hold it
  3. The selection of your goal should be done deliberately and thoughtfully, because you will be spending your valuable time and energy to reach it