Goal Setting

Clear-thinking folks do not board random busses in order to reach specific destinations. Simply hopping aboard whatever conveyance happens to chug along signifies a desire to leave rather than to arrive. The former is an act of desperation. The latter is a goal.

Goals are the bull’s eyes in our lives. They are our shopping list. Keep in mind, though, that milk is not a goal unless you specify what type of milk, how much you need, and when to buy it. In and of itself, milk is but meaningless ink on a page, as is island mansion. As goes for the devil, success, too, lies in the details. So add some small print to your shopping list.

When setting goals, the fundamental question arises as to whether there is such a thing as a “wrong” goal. What if you’re 5’3” and intend to make it into the NBA? What if your goal is to master the art of jumping out of an airplane at 15,000 feet without a parachute and land on a concrete parking lot unscathed? Well, then you’ve got a bit of problem. Goals don’t suffer buffoons gladly. Just pick something that is achievable, at least in terms of aligning with the basic laws of physics, and that resides not entirely outside the pale of conventional sanity.

On the other hand, one may subscribe to the notion that goals are not meant to be reached but merely to be approximated. As per this approach, hitting the aforementioned parking lot from 15,000 feet sans sky-diving tackle with at least one or two bones somewhat intact may count as a valid approximation of the original goal of touching down without a scratch. Congratulations.

May I, however, suggest that you bury the approximation theory in your backyard and stick with goals that are T&D (“Tough and Doable”). Tough, because tough is fun, and doable, so you’re not chasing after windmills. Also, stay away from unquantifiable goals. If you wish to become the greatest movie star of all time, make sure you define greatest—biggest box office revenue? Most Academy Awards? Most Hollywood divorces? After all, few things in life are more frustrating than being unable to prove the attainment of a goal owing to a slipshod definition at the outset. Bottom line, unless you are reasonably confident that you could prove its achievement in a court of law, redefine your goal.

Now it is time to break out your trusty pen and legal pad and set about drawing your goal tree. So you’re not Leonardo Da Vinci? Worry not. The drawing skills required are fairly rudimentary; just a bunch of boxes connected with simple lines, much like a diagram of your family pedigree. Your ultimate goal goes on top, for instance Make one million dollars in real estate within five years. Excellent. Now work yourself down the page until you arrive at the most elementary immediate goal, say Get a real estate license.

Most importantly, furnish your goals with dates. They say that what can be done at any time will be done at no time. Saunter over to your neighborhood tattoo parlor and have this adage etched into your forehead, so you’ll see it every time you look in the mirror. A deadline constitutes the lifeblood of a goal. Without a deadline, you have no goal. You have a dream. Remember that goals are merely dreams put into action. Action means deadlines.

You can burn my house, steal my car … drink my liquor from an old fruit jar … you can do anything that you wanna do … but you may never, and I mean NEVER terminate a goal setting session without taking at least one concrete and tangible step towards its achievement. Make that phone call NOW. Toss out the junk chow from your fridge NOW. Mail that letter NOW. If you wait for the “right” moment, chances are your goals will fizzle like mosquitoes on a bug zapper.

And no, merely drawing your goal tree does not rise to the level of a tangible step towards anything. As long as even your most ardent resolutions remain cooped up within your brainpan or chiseled into a slab of granite, they amount to the proverbial hill of beans. Action is the name of the game, and tomorrow is never a good day to begin.