WHAT MAKES GOALS POWERFUL?
I know I’ve said that it’s the journey, not the destination that’s important – in being happy and successful as you go, not the results. Well, I’d like to contradict myself for a moment, in the following sense: focusing on the process of goal-setting is not as powerful as the goals themselves. It’s just that some people get so hung up on having personal organiser systems, goal-setting processes, goal reviews and so on – but they often end up pursuing lackluster goals! Set yourself a powerful, specific, right-for-you, imaginable goal. It doesn’t matter if it comes to you in a dream and you write it down on the back of an envelope.
I once lectured to final-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) students at the University of Queensland. I asked them: what was the most important thing they were going to be doing in the following year, as they went into the workforce or started their own business?
Most agreed that the most important thing was to establish their business plans. Some said they’d need to raise finance. Some said they’d need to come up with an idea. I was horrified. They were all so passionless about their immediate futures! They were focusing on the planning process – not what they wanted – which was the only thing that would have made the planning process worthwhile.
To be successful, you have to be committed to the goal, whatever it is. You have to be sufficiently committed to the goal to make it a priority in your life. This may mean letting go of some of the other good things, or some of the security you would otherwise hold onto. It may cost you effort and self-discipline.
These sacrifices are a form of investment – but you won’t make them unless you see the returns as worthwhile. I love the young lion heart, Jessie Martin, who with very little sailing experience went out and sailed round the world, solo, at 17-years-old. He didn’t have much of a plan – just a burning goal. Soon after setting out, a lot of his supplies were soaked through. What kept him going? A lion-hearted refusal to let go of his vision.
Another story about burning desire comes from ancient Greece. A great king sailed a fleet of 2,000 men to confront an enemy who outnumbered them ten to one. On reaching the enemy’s shores, the king ordered all the ships to be burnt beyond repair. ‘We’ll either be successful here, or we’ll die. There is no going back.’
‘Burning our boats’ is not considered good advice in our safety-focused world. But I think there’s something powerful in the commitment it expresses – sometimes following your burning desire means limiting your options to go back. People often think they would ‘like to do something’ but aren’t prepared to make the sacrifice the commitment requires. They don’t want to leave their comfort zones without being certain of a positive outcome.
It won’t happen. They don’t want to exercise the discipline it will take to get where they want to go. It won’t happen.
They wait for more information, or better circumstances, or a push from someone else. It won’t happen. These people rarely even take the first step because it takes commitment – launching out into the unknown, keeping moving when things get tough, perhaps even burning your boats or bridges.
There is truth in the saying: who dares wins. And your goal is either worth being daring for or it isn’t. What have you got a boat-burning desire to achieve?
>>> Coming Next: Personal, Positive, Specific, Vivid Goals