Do you remember how, as a child, you would dreamily spend hours gazing at all the wonders found in the holiday catalogs, wishing, hoping and dreaming for those special delights? For most of us, those delights remained largely within the catalog covers, but a couple of important lessons were learned. One, dreaming, hoping and wishing are not particularly effective means of getting what we want, and two, it sure was fun to dream! And even as adults, it is great fun to dream of castles in the air, and much more so when you begin to build foundations under them, and that’s what goal setting is all about.

And how often did the youthful you wonder what you were going to do when you grew up? For many, that dream has changed a number of times, subject to revision with each new interest we encountered. Still others made youthful decisions to follow a certain career path and remain committed to that decision. Others are evaluating options and making career decisions well into maturity and adulthood. And many never really discover the answer to that magical question, What do you want to be when you grow up? No matter where you are in your professional life, goal setting can help.

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If You Can Conceive It, and If You Believe It, You Can Achieve It!

A number of years ago, the renowned contemporary philosopher Earl Nightingale offered a classic definition of success The progressive realization of worthy goals.

Whether the decisions facing you are major like making a career change or relatively minor, like planning a vacation, goals will help you achieve the success you seek. Since success is a journey, and not a destination at which you arrive, goals become the pathway to achieving whatever you want to be, have, or do. That is the good news.

Even better news is that the pathway is built of ten clearly defined and recognizable stepping-stones. As you are about to take the first step, remember that goal setting is fun, and goal achieving is even more fun!

Before stepping out onto the ten steppingstones, here are a couple suggestions to help assure a productive journey. Your goals must be just that your goals. They should be written commitments to what you intend to be, have, or do, and they need to be specific I would like to lose some weight does not work. I weigh pounds by September 1st does, because it conforms to the definition of what we call QUALITY goals. A QUALITY goal is: Q? quantifiable (measurable), Unconditional (not subject to reservations), Achievable, Literal (specific), Inspiring, Time Dated and Yours (Your goal for yourself). Some goals quitting smoking, losing weight, running a 10K become more doable when interim goals are established. Writing goals as outcomes, rather than processes, can be effective. For example, Learn to speak Spanish is not as effective as I converse easily in Spanish. And remember to make them positive ? I am a non smoker is more powerful than, I do not smoke anymore.

Some goals will require a detailed plan to make them happen and some will not. If a clean basement is a goal, it may not be necessary to analyze all the available options to accomplish that goal (of course, that depends on the condition of your basement!). However, if your goal is an income goal, then in all probability a careful analysis is in order.

It was mentioned earlier that it is important to put your goal in writing. This lends clarity and focus to its attainment. If you are like so many others, you may not even be sure what your goals are, or should be, and that’s perfectly fine at this stage of your journey. Remember the holiday Wishbook that was alluded to earlier? Goal setting requires a wishbook, too. This is where your journey will start write down anything and everything you even think you might like to be, have, or do. At this point, do not complicate things by recording only what makes sense. Forget QUALITY goals here First we get it down, then we get it good! You have dreamed of climbing Mt. Everest? GO FOR IT!! in the Wishbook, anyway!

In all probability, you have spent more time in the past planning a weekend trip than you have spent planning your life. Remember how planning that trip led to positive expectations and anticipation of good things? Magnify those feelings a thousand fold and you’ll have an idea of the positive expectancy, energy and anticipation you will experience as you step out onto the ten steppingstones of goal achievement….begins with the first step, and so does the journey on the ten steppingstones of the pathway to achieving your goals. You may set any number of goals in each of the ten areas, though it is suggested that no more than four or five in each area is a manageable number.

Here are the ten stepping stones and a couple of example activities in each area:

  1. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. Read a book a month; attend seminars and webinars
  2. OWNERSHIP. New toy trains; that Mont Blanc pen you have always wanted
  3. PROJECTS. Build a ship model; clean rain gutters
  4. SPIRITUAL. daily prayer; tithing
  5. FINANCIAL. investments; savings
  6. BUSINESS AND CAREER. promotion; increased business
  7. RECREATION. Attend a reunion; start a new hobby.
  8. FAMILY. more family activities; be a better role model.
  9. COMMUNITY. Be a regular blood donor; volunteer
  10. PHYSICAL. exercise program; medical check up

Goals should be written on paper, but never chiseled in stone. Setting and achieving goals is a lifelong commitment to growth. It is not uncommon for goals to change, to evolve, to mature. Remember, too, that if a goal hasn’t been accomplished in the desired timeframe, perhaps the timeframe, not the goal, requires tweaking.

Welcome to the wonderful world of goal setting. It has been said that only about three to five percent of adult Americans have written goals for their lives. You are about to walk with that elite group on the ten steppingstones to achievement. Congratulations!

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Roy Lantz is a speaker, seminar leader and author on personal development and customer service. His latest book, Never Beat the Boss at Horseshoes… was recently published.