I’m a strong believer in the importance of setting written goals. However, it does seem as though for every person I meet that agrees with their ability to influence life outcomes, there are an equal number of people who dismiss the concept of goal setting as having an impact on achievement.
So here is the simplest explanation I can provide for how goals work: Setting a written goal creates selective perception. Written goals subconsciously program our mind to be aware of opportunities relating to the goal as they cross our path. All of sudden we see how things might work. This does two things: Firstly, it reminds us of the task we’ve set. Secondly, it helps us find ways to make it actually happen. After that, it’s just a question of effort and tenacity.
It’s kind of like your car: Have you ever wanted a new car, or just bought a car only to notice how many of them are driving around on the roads? This is selective perception at work. It’s a beacon for stuff that matters to us – for what is relevant in our world. We only see what is out there once we purposely place ‘it’ into our life or desire it.
One of the most powerful things we can do is set our brain to work in the background – and if we know it works on simple things like noticing cars, imagine what it can do once we set it to notice opportunities.
I’m an avid surfer and in the pre-internet days I would video tape television shows featuring surfing and watch them over and over. I have over 20 of these 3 hour video tapes and can still remember every word of the dialogue off by heart. Today I was thinking about one of the tapes. It was from the Coca-cola classic held at Manly beach in Sydney in 1987. At the start they interviewed the top 5 surfers in the world. One of which included Martin Potter and he said this:
“The one thing to do in surfing is win the world title. And until I get it, I’ll be going for it. And when I get it, I’ll be gone.”
This statement is carved into my brain with blood. I’ve never forgotten it. It was just so succinct, said with such confidence, belief and direction. He even sounded cool as a cat when he said it. Two years later he blitzed them and won the world title. Shortly after that he left the circus that was the world surfing tour and went on to other things in the surfing arena. I always felt as though he wanted to prove what he was capable of, but not be a slave to the system once the game was one.
The question for entrepreneurs is what kind of a victory or proof point are we really after, and when is enough, enough? This is something we should know before we start or we may never know when or if to call it a day.
I’ve been setting visual and written goals for a few years now. However last year was one of the more limited goal setting years I’ve had in some time. In truth, I achieved less than in previous years.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that some times the goals we set for a year, take a few years to yield, for our brain to work out the subconscious algorithm needed to make them happen. I’ve never had a year when I have achieved all the goals that I have set, but it is also true that I achieve more in the years when I have made more of an effort in creating, reviewing and refining my goals.
On occasions I have made a personal postcard and sent it to myself with my goals as the visuals. I’ve shared one of these below, and while some of it is personal, it’s more important to share the goodness than worry about what people might think. You will notice that some things on it are not specific, and can’t be ticked or crossed, while others are specific. I really believe that very specific goal setting can actually work. I don’t know why, it just does.
Some of the Ticks included:
- Traveling with my, now wife, to elope
- Starting a family (see baby pic – my daughter even looks like this picture I found on-line!)
- Going to New York & Rome
- Getting published articles in the AFR, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald
- Surfing Weekly
- Graduating from being a University Tutor, to becoming a University Lecturer
- Turning my Startup Blog into a Startup School
- Helping my father sell his farm
- Getting rentoid in the news multiple times (Just google rentoid)
- Travel overseas in Business Class
- Collaborate with rental Industry to become leading portal
Some of the Crosses included:
- Flying in a private jet somewhere
- Having 10 million+ in net assets
- Upgrading my home (Including pool & eco friendly house features, and grand design renovation)
- Running a marathon
- Opening a new office for rentoid
- Getting on the cover of a business related magazine
- Becoming known as a respected business thought leader.
Some of these goals that I am yet to achieve, but am still seeking, in fact some I am very close to…. if they eventuate I will let you know. For 2012 I want my goals to be more specific and I intend on sharing them here to be honest in public and make myself more accountable.
The one thing I know for sure, is that we don’t achieve any of the goals we don’t set.
Talking to my business partner today he made a simple statement:
‘Your task list and calendar should reflect your overall goals’
And it’s statement worth assessing in a methodical fashion. We should think about where we want to be in 5 years, and see if any of the tasks we are doing today are moving us closer to our goals. Our entire day doesn’t have to be filled with task that lead to achieving long term objectives, but there should be ‘direction evidence’. If there isn’t any directional evidence of where we and any business we are involved in wants to be – then quite simply, we need to review our task list and make sure things are aligned.
While driving the other day the person in the car with me said they we’re disappointed with themselves. Disappointed, in that they had only achieved 50% of the goals they set for the year.
I then asked what was achieved:
- They reflected on those goals that were nailed. All of them were pretty heady, big goals and great achievements.
I then asked if the ‘failed goals’ had at least some progress made:
- They said that some of the failures had made significant progress, though not fully nailed.
I then asked what percentage of goals were achieved by the 97% of people who don’t write them down:
- The penny dropped and the conversation didn’t go much further.
Turns out people with written goals are very far in front. Even achieving a small percentage of our set goals puts us so far ahead of the mob it’s a joke. And the joke is on them.
When it comes to goals it’s pretty simple. Set, review, rewrite, believe = achieve.
(insert your choice here)
Which one is correct? Well, it depends on a lot of things, like speed, budget and even why you are going…. Are you walking to Sydney on fitness or political campaign?
It’s easy in to judge strategy from the sidelines, especially when we don’t understand the constraints or objectives.
In startup land our paths will differ. What matters is if we get to Sydney, and if we did it in the manner which suited us.
Steve – rentoid.com