Few people set objectives methodically and purposefully because most haven't had to do so. Today's tougher reality makes it more important. During my year-end ritual of organizing my desk and office for a fresh start, I came across some material from a speech I gave 25 years ago and laughed as I read this one-liner: "The biggest problem we have in America today is that we are 81/2 pounds overweight, and can't find a parking place!" Things have changed, and today we average being 22 pounds overweight and can't find our 401K. Which raises the question for all of us during these tumultuous times: What are you doing about managing your affairs in this new normal we have had thrust upon us?
Setting personal and professional goals and making New Year's resolutions are now more important than ever. We will be expected to do more with less both at home and at work, and if we simply do what we have always done it will likely be insufficient in this new, pressurized environment. Not only are new and better skill sets required as the bar of excellence has been raised on all of us, but new mindsets are also required to compete and prosper in all arenas.
Studies prove that if you methodically and purposefully set goals you will increase your chances of leading the pack. If you don't, you might well fall behind those who are vowing to discover what's right about their current opportunities. You can't just work hard on your job -- you must factor in working hard on yourself to turn untapped capabilities into the currency of results. Many of us have no idea of how far we could go if we would just get focused and go after the rest of our potential.
A recent study revealed that only one-half of 1 percent of the employed American workforce has their goals in writing. Despite the myriad distractions we endure today, we need to get focused on what is possible. The means by which we program our subconscious minds for higher achievement is to have written goals and resolutions that increase our commitment and probability of achievement threefold. If we write them down and assign a time frame for accomplishment, we quintuple our resolve and results.
Why would anyone want to defy those odds? I think the reason is that in great, rich, beautiful America, we haven't had to. Things have been too good for so many for so long. As we now attempt to refit ourselves and our careers to the new normal, we need to clarify our areas of focus and turn on our after-burners to climb to new heights.
Here is the goal-setting process I recommend: Rule No. 1 is to work from a document, not just thought; get a legal pad or get on your computer and get your goals down, and the more detail the better. Next, embrace the eight goal categories for high achievement: career, family, financial, social, physical, community, education and spiritual. Most visions can be put into one of those categories. Next, I suggest you do a "current assessment" by scoring on a 1 to 10 scale how you are doing in each of the eight categories. You need to know where you are starting from to make genuine progress. For example, if you give yourself a 7 score in the "physical" category, you can now decide where you want to be one year from now. If you say a 9, great -- you are now positioned to add details, specifics and processes to your "physical" goals and go to work on your improvement process.
Passion -- also called "fire in the belly" -- is the degree to which you are energized to take action; it is the emotional driver which propels us to push ourselves to the next level. So where does the passion you need to achieve your goals come from? The deviation between your present self-image (a 7, in the above example) and your projected self-image (a 9 one year from now) is the source of your "fire in the belly." Once you have created a definitive deviation, motivation is on the way.
If you use this process, you will open up new vistas you never dreamed were there for you. The time to start is now. My friend, Vancouver billionaire Joe Segal, says we should consider our "Runway of Life." How old are you? How much runway do you think you have left? Obviously, none of us knows for sure, but I'll bet we could agree that it would be nice to maximize the success and impact of our life regardless of how much runway we have left.
So here's a tried and true formula for a new outcome:
-- Don't focus on your fears.
-- Focus every day on your possibilities.
-- Reprogram the achievement aspects of your belief system.
-- Vow to be the best you can be.
Who knows? With a little luck, a year from now you may feel that your biggest problem is finding a parking place.