This blog is based on an excerpt from our webinar, Outcome Clarification: the Power of Effective Goal Setting, hosted by renowned sales coach Mitch Harris.
We’ve all heard about how important goal setting is to success, whether in business or personal life.
Well, then what are your goals? Are they clearly laid out?
The biggest challenge with goals is that most people just don’t have them. Most people don’t take goal setting seriously, they take it for granted, or they think it is going to take all kinds of work and effort to set their goals. They may not realize it, but it comes down to statements like this:
“That kind of thing just isn’t for me.”
“That is too structured or confining. I am more fluid. I am more of a free spirit type.”
“All I need to do is get to work and I will get results, and that is all that matters.”
“That is for those seminar junkies, not for regular normal people like me.”
“I don’t need to do that. I know what I want, and I think about it all the time. So in a way I kind of do have goals, right?”
Wrong! And there are all kinds of other limiting inner dialogues they have about goal setting. So wherever you may be on that scale, whatever kind of barriers or limiting beliefs you may have around making the effort to set real goals, I ask that you move those aside. Get those out of the way and create a nice, clean slate for yourself so you can really step into this powerful process.
One question I’ve heard a lot is, “What is the number one reason why most people don’t accomplish or get what they want out of life?” In my experience, and in my discussions with individuals who are hugely successful, the answer is nearly always the same. The main reason people don’t accomplish what they want is because they really don’t know what they want. They simply do not know.
And I want to be clear, I am not talking about the day-to-day goals like going to the store, getting something to eat, running some errands, or finally making some calls. That is a to-do list. I am talking about the bigger picture, the life-direction goals. Be it your income, your business, achievements, fitness, relationships, skill sets, what have you.
Most people have general, vague notions or ideas of a goal and they will say things like:
“I really want to close more business.”
“I want to make a lot more money.”
“I want a better relationship.”
“I want to be in better shape.”
“I want to be a more productive person.”
And of course, none of these things are bad things, but what do statements like this really mean? At what point have you reached these goals? The problem is you can’t reach them, you’ll always keep wanting these things because you can always close more business, make more money, have a better relationship, etc. You’ll always be chasing these statements and will never be satisfied, because you don’t actually know what you’re really looking for, exactly.
Don’t Worry, You’re Not Alone
Now the Idea is to get crystal clear on what you truly want to accomplish, and we’re all in different stages of clarity. Which brings us to what I like to call the “clarity chart”:
Most research has shown that around 80% of the population are just walking around the hamster wheel of life going from day-to-day, just kind of getting by with no real goals or direction. This is without any judgement at all, it is just simply a fact that most of us are just getting from one day to the next.
Out of the 20% of the population who actually do have goals, even fewer have clearly defined, specific, and measurable goals. They have just vague notions, such as the statements made earlier in this post. They don’t actually hone in and get clear on what is required. How much money exactly do you want to earn? What kind of shape specifically do you want to get in to? What kind of activity specifically you committed to taking?
And out of those folks, which are already the exception, who have clearly defined specific goals, even fewer have a definite timeline attached to them. They just say things like,
“Well, sometime in the near future...“
“You know, As soon as I can get to it...”
“Whenever it can happen, it can happen...”
And out of the very small percentage of that population that do have specific measurable goals with a timeline attached, even fewer review their goals on a consistent basis. They fall into what I call “The New Year Syndrome”. You know, when someone gets all excited and makes a bunch of resolutions about what they are going to accomplish, and then sometime in June or July they think about it again and realize they have totally lost track.
And for that very small percentage of the population who have gotten down this far to the chart (and at this point we are down to about 10% of the overall population), even fewer really know why they want to achieve those goals and what’s at stake for them around it. Very often they have those goals because that is just what they think they are supposed to shoot for, or that is what someone else has told them. If someone lists a million dollar a year in personal income but it is not something they are truly committed to, maybe they just say that because it is a banner or because it sounds good when they say that to other people.
And for those few who have gotten this far down on the chart, even fewer have a tangible, clear game plan for making that goal a reality.
So I pose this to anyone reading, when you look at this, is it any wonder why so many people never accomplish the goals that they want or at least what they say they want?
Goal Setting Is Your Creative Power at Work
Let me ask you an honest question here. Is this any way to go through life? Not knowing what you really want, when you want it, what is at stake around it, and how you plan on getting it? Especially if you are in sales or a professional entrepreneur, you just can’t afford to not know where you’re going.
Whenever you set goals, especially goals that will cause you to stretch yourself and that by no means are guaranteed, it calls upon both your ability and your willingness to have belief and faith that you can create something that is not yet visible or hasn’t yet been manifested. You are taking generalized desires and making them tangible, defining them with precision and clarity. At that moment you become a creator.
I think there is something truly amazing about that. Remember, what you tend to focus on is what tends to show up in your life. Call it the law of attraction, the power of manifestation, whatever you want, but we have all seen that happen in our lives in one time or another.
Setting goals also acknowledges to your brain that on some level you’re not satisfied with where you are right now. You are not where you want to be. You know, being dissatisfied can sometimes be a power, you can harness it and use to your advantage. Setting goals and thinking about what you want to accomplish in your life simply brings what you’re dissatisfied with to the surface and has you take a real look at it. So don’t hide your dissatisfaction, let it be one of the engines that propels you forward, and consider it a step in the direction to your goals.
As you can probably tell, I am very excited about this and I hope you are as well because I have seen many times over the years as a coach, as a consultant, and as a trainer the real impact this can have on individuals and entire organizations.
There was a study that was done at Harvard Business School in the MBA program, back in 1979. Mark McCormack talks about it in his book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, and it is powerful to the point that it is profound.
In that year students were asked “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish that?” When they took that survey only 3% of the graduates had written plans and goals. 13% had goals but they were not in writing. And a whopping 84% had no specific goals at all.
But here is where it gets interesting. 10 years later the members of the class were interviewed and again the findings, while maybe not completely surprising, were nonetheless astonishing.
The 13% of the class who had goals were earning on average twice as much as the other 84% who had no goals at all. What about the other 3% who had clear written goals? They were earning on the average 10x as much as the other 97% combined. I want you to take that in and think about for a moment. Ten times as much as the other 97% put together. Is there any way that could have been a coincidence?
So what’s your excuse now? Why haven’t you set goals? It doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time, but the time you do invest into it will be returned to you in incredible ways.