GOALS TO LIVE
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”
Most of us human beings do not set goals. And, unfortunately, most of us who do, find much greater pleasure in the setting of goals than we do in the pursuit and achievement of them. We are dreamers by nature.
I have heard this before, but I researched the numbers again just to have an update. After a quick peek, all seems to be the same. It is said that three percent of people actually have written goals. Only one percent review them on a consistent basis. I am unsure as to how this is possible, but I feel fortunate to be in the three percent. Can it be that so many of us do not take the time to do this thing? Can it be that so many of us have not been exposed to some form of basic goal-setting? One would think it should be taught in school at a low level. Get these kids thinking and doing. Anyway, I do not happen to be in the one percentile. One of my major downfalls (and this I know) is that I do not look at my goals enough, no matter how many times I have written them out. If goals are not written down, are they just dreams? If they are not reviewed, are they just hopes? Even so, aren’t dreams and hopes necessary for human achievement and happiness? Of course, they are – but not just hopes and dreams. There must be the possibility, probability even, that they will be achieved. Somehow, some way, there has to be that.
Incidentally, I have forgotten when I was introduced to the concept of goals and began writing them down, though I imagine it was college – or my short experience and what I defined as my college education. If such is true, simply writing them down did not help me accomplish them. I come to this conclusion since I suppose a degree would have been among my goals at the time. This did not come to pass.
So, no more statistics. Most successful people write-out goals. Written goals are more likely to be achieved – reviewed goals, more likely yet. My failure to now has at least been on reviewal. Ben tells me that there is someone who is extremely good at drilling down and making goals easier to hit. For this second part of my re-boot, I am to seek him out. I certainly hope he has more for me than to sticky note my goals to a mirror!
It was twice the size at least of an average Starbucks. Along three main walls made up of large windows were high tables and stools. To the interior, were four areas of couches and low cushy chairs which were perfect for visiting or studying, whichever might be preferred. The back wall represented the counter and kitchen area. Employees of all shapes and sizes scurried about constantly, so busy was Maggie’s all day long. All this, and to think how very strange it was and unique, too, that Maggie’s Mug had no drive-thru. Margaret Kelley wouldn’t have it for some reason. Everyone was expected to get out of their car or truck, or off of their bikes or the buses, and go inside for a short visit. She knew it might hurt business a bit, but it was her store and she did it her way. And with respect to perhaps negatively affecting the bottom line with no drive-thru, she could handle it. As mentioned earlier – constant stream of all kinds. The reason behind this – really, really good coffee, tea and sandwiches. The sugary stuff was outstanding, too! And this was how she liked it.
This particular morning at Maggies’s was perhaps a bit less busy than usual, but still a flurry of activity. Most of the interior seats were occupied. I did notice one empty cushy, brown leather chair across from a clean-cut gentleman in his late thirties maybe, who wore dark jeans and a light blue polo. I imagined that this must be Andrew Janssen. Ben had set up this appointment. He had told me about Andy, stating that although he had goal-setting down to a science, Ben assumed it was mostly for business. I was to find out, to my great benefit, that this was no longer the circumstance. Ben had said that Andy had been trying to lose 30 pounds for 15 years and was never able to do it. When I asked Ben why I would want to talk to someone about setting goals who couldn’t seem to lose thirty pounds, Ben replied that setting is not the same as achieving and that we would get to that. Right now, he just wanted me to have a plan, a better one than I currently had anyway. The really good news is that this gentleman, if he was whom I sought, must have figured it out – the weight, I mean. This guy didn’t have thirty pounds to lose. He was in terrific shape.
I approached him.
“Mr. Janssen?” I asked.
He stood. He was well over six feet tall, about 185 pounds, broad shoulders and narrow waisted. He smiled.
“You must be David. Call me Andy. And please sit. I saved it for you.”
The chair sat low, but was it comfortable! Oh, my goodness! I thanked him.
“You’re welcome. Please tell me about yourself. Ben filled me in a little bit , but I’d rather you tell me how I can help.”
“Thank you for taking time out of your day,” I said sincerely. Andy would later relate to me that he enjoyed coming here on his day off and begin his day by monitoring activities at the dealership for a while in the morning so he might give better instructions if they were necessary. “Before I get started, how long have you been an automotive consultant?”
Andy closed his laptop and gave complete attention.
“Well,” he said, taking a sip of coffee. “About 22 years. But I have only really been serious for the last ten.”
I didn’t understand how someone could wade through a career for 12 years, then stay in it and become extremely successful. Then I remembered my career and why I was talking to Andy. I might have been wading for 30 years! Easy to do and not even know it, I decided.
“Why did you stay with it? And what changed?” I asked.
“I matured, re-evaluated, and realized what this business could do for me. And, I had discovered I had a passion for it. Anyway, what can I do to help you?”
I told Andy that I had been working on the discovery of a true voice over the past many weeks and have come to the following conclusion…
The insecurity had to go. Granted, our voices are not all the same – they shouldn’t be so. Yet, there are a great many positive qualities and styles of communication which are inherent, perhaps which have been lying dormant or altered, diminished from experience. So I mentioned to Andy that I have been meditating upon very positive attributes with the understanding that I was very good at what I do and, for the most part, I am good at who I am. What I meant by this, I told him, was that with respect to my qualities of integrity, positive personality, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, etc. I do well to exhibit these things. Those who know me have no difficulty realizing that these are traits I possess. But, there is this insecurity holding me back from the things I want most. Yes, I have written down that I want to design and build houses rather than sell them. I had written a goal of having a million dollars in assets and living in a house of my own design. Somehow, I keep shuffling through life, overweight, on medication, with little more than enough energy to list and sell enough houses to support my wife and two dogs. I suppose I am relatively happy, but not nearly what I should be. And, if I am not, I imagine my wife could be happier. I am approaching retirement and I will certainly not be able to do these things then, will I?
Andy asked, “Why not.”
When did I plan to retire? He wondered.
I told him at 67-8, roughly 4-5 years. Then he asked me to tell him more about my altered voice that has been developed over the months. What have I changed or added?
I wanted to be more assertive, re-invent myself and completely re-energize my current career. This seemed like a difficult decision at first, as though I was forsaking my dreams. Then I altered my focus to retire the best way I could and be in the best position possible for my wife and I. This didn’t seem that tough. Goal-setting should be fun. It should be simple and easy. I found myself to be a little discouraged because I had removed some of my goals which I had set and not accomplished before. It left me with an emptiness.
The setting of goals, in and of itself, is not difficult. Setting goals which truly seem to be within our grasp and are able to be accomplished are another matter. There must be a structure, an order. Andy reminded me of an old Steve Martin bit where the comedian built the importance of setting goals and how his were, first, to become the all-being, master of time, space and dimension. “Then I want to go to Europe,” Steve Martin had said – punch line. And a good one! Indeed, goals can be fleeting, ridiculous, and ultimately demotivating – not the purpose behind them at all, eh?
Andy agreed with me that the setting of goals should be fun, but he understood how the dismissal of dreams can work against us. Yes, there are things we might have to give up. If an individual is over forty years old and still has the goal of becoming a professional baseball player, he might want to focus on something else – not that this is unprecedented, but exceedingly rare. There is always something available to provide us with the hope and desire for accomplishment. We just need to look for it.
So when I re-iterated that I wanted to be more assertive with my voice and actions in order to energize myself to sell more and make more money, to treat my job differently, this was something I realized I could do with everything. I had to take stock in what I had. I was compassionate. People liked me and trusted me. Perhaps I had just not used my connections well, or used enough of them.
My voice was strong and it was good. Now it was time to imagine my goals again. I had never thought about this when I got into my sixties. “There are certainly more days behind me than ahead of me,” I thought, and was not particularly motivated by that. Andy said it didn’t matter. What if you had a day? What if you have 10 years or 30? Why dwell on the uncertain. Then he went into a dissertation on goal setting…
“Okay,” Andy began confidently. “Let’s use the SMART model, but let’s go backwards. We’ll begin by setting time-tables in general. We will go out 3-5 years for our long term goals, 1 year for intermediate, then quarterly, then daily. The daily goals will simply be a to-do list.
“Why only three to five years for long term? Shouldn’t there be lifetime targets?”
“Do we know how long our lifetime will be? Andy asked. “3-5 is fine – if we hit all the goals, we re-evaluate and go again. Our lifetime ambitions will become clear to us. And, not so surprisingly really, they will change with time. Just like our goals will change with time. So now that we have our time periods set, we can start thinking about assigning goals to the time periods. We think about realistic, attainable, measurable, and specific goals for these periods. To lose fifty pounds might be realistic, but it is not attainable on a daily, weekly, or probably even quarterly basis. This would be a year-long quest and a goal for that time period, but we could set shorter-term goals which support this one. Remember, if you are not taking action toward your goals, you are moving backward not staying stagnant. Why? Goals are time-sensitive and time is passing when you do nothing. Now, the goal of losing 50 pounds is measurable and specific. Remember, you can break these goal periods down to anything you choose. How does the one I laid out fit you? Would you like to add monthly and subtract quarterly for instance? What do you think?”
I had been used to thinking in terms of months. Perhaps the quarterly would be better for me. It was a subtle change, but one I was ready to tackle. I did keep a daily to-do list already and I was used to writing down goals for the month and perhaps the calendar year, but I would rarely look at those. At least I was already in the habit of writing things down and I would occasionally achieve a goal here or there. I did believe in the power of writing them down. It does help to clarify and reinforce ideas. But now, I knew that Andy and I were going to take this to another level. Andy pulled a few sheets of paper from his folder, grids with the words “Goals,” “Strategies,” and “Tactics” on them. He began to speak.
He repeated that the process of setting goals should be a pleasurable endeavor and it is for most. Some take it to extremes. He said he would speak to that in a bit. But what might not make things so fun is the defining of strategies and identification of the tactics necessary to accomplish the goals. Why is this? Because now the individual is mapping out and envisioning the effort and sacrifice – far less fun!
“So why must this be made far less fun?” he wondered aloud. “Why must we define and write down our strategies? Why must we identify and write down our tactics? Because thinking about and jotting down some goals does not magically make them happen! For now though, let’s have a little more amusement and perhaps motivate ourselves a bit! So, you have heard of the SMART acronym?” he asked.
“Yes, I have. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely or Time-Bound. You mentioned a few of these and had been speaking in those terms.”
“Right, and there have been other substitutes too.”
“They all make some sense,” I said. “Though I can’t imagine why someone would take time to develop a goal which is not relevant or rewarding.”
“I’m with you. You can call it ‘realistic’ although that might cross over into the ‘attainable’ field. Oh well. We’ll stick to these as best we can, eh?”
There was a short quiet.
“We should get another cup of coffee,” Andy suggested. “I got it. What would you like?”
“The darkest roast she has,” I replied. “Thank you.”
While he was standing in line, I thought about the sheets of paper and hoped he wasn’t going to make things too complicated. The complex can mean failure for many. I just wanted a simple path. I sat with some worry, not knowing that the simple path was indeed what he would be laying out for me.
“One thing before we go further,” I said when Andy returned with an extremely welcome beverage. “Ben told me you had tried to lose 30 pounds forever. How did you finally get it done?”
“Sometimes, in the oddest of dichotomies, it requires an obsession with something one cannot tolerate to accomplish the most difficult of goals. You might find that the obsession transforms into a passion.
It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when I went to sleep. I did this until the goal was accomplished.”
“It certainly worked for you! I just hope I can do the same.”
“Well, thank you! It was worth it. And you will do it too! What we are going to put together can be as complex or basic as you would like. For me, I had to reduce my goals to only the one of getting into shape. I simplified until it was accomplished and I could tackle more substance once again. That is the beauty of this. One can make this the most complex or most simple process he or she would like. I’ll show you how…
We have already mentioned SMART goals and we have talked about time periods. The time periods can be altered and so can our set of categories, our goal subjects or areas of focus. For me, they have mostly been as follows:
- House and Home
- Outside Interests
The wonderful thing about this is that you are able to add to, subtract from, or alter these areas as you see fit. For instance, you might add a Professional II category to apply goals toward your desire to design and build your own houses. It is entirely up to you. Instead of general ideas like education or outside interests you might change those to art or, more specifically, painting perhaps. But let us break these down and let me show you what goals might fall into each area.
Goals, strategies, and tactics which fall into this category are career-based. They might be representative of a job pursuit (searches, applications, interviews, etc.), aspirations for a current position or advancement, or specific items within a current responsibility (tasks, reports, or projects). If a raise is your goal, then document it here. Then, as we progress, we will strategize and decide which actions to take in order to achieve this result.
This area of focus is a broad realm to be sure. Anything which can be targeted and measured with respect to body or health is fair game. Examples might include Weight, Blood Pressure (particularly if it is an issue), waist size, diet, training repetitions with a certain weight or time for a walk, run or a stair stepper – anything of this sort. If you wish to create greater focus and pinpoint more goals, this is an area where many may choose to create a Physical II category rather than add one to focus on diet or training. Again, be careful with the complexity here.
To that end, allow me to pause here shortly and tell you about a man I knew who might have been or could still be considered a tragic figure had he not brought so much kindness and good to others.
I met Dan Adams the first year I began in the car business. I ran into him at a bar on the pool tables. He played a lot of pool, but mostly he sat at the bar with a notebook. He was a professional goal-setter. He was good at setting them, but he couldn’t meet most he had set. And he was still doing this ten years ago when I last saw him. If he is still around somewhere, I’d bet you would find him at a bar doing the very same thing. I would further propose that if he was unable to change, he is the perfect example of how elaborate goal-setting with no idea of plans or actions can become a fatal obsession and how it is able to halt progress and fill a lifetime with nothingness.
“That does seem a bit tragic,” I agreed. “How did he help others? What did he do?”
“He worked as a delivery man and lived modestly. As far as I knew, he was single with no children. The patrons represented his children and his only friends. He was an odd mentor for certain, but I did consider him that. Neither myself nor others would probably want to live like that but we would have like to be as well thought of and as kind as he. From what I remember, he gave to charities and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He just never seemed to get what he wanted.”
“What did he want?”
“Dan wanted to be a Renaissance Man! He wanted to be a modern-day published philosopher, he want to paint, sculpt, sing, dance, be president (or king, benevolent of course!), find a cure for cancer… Boy, you name it! He spoke of it all and how he would do it all tomorrow. Anyway, I don’t think he accomplished the smallest of his goals. Perhaps he wasn’t wired that way. I don’t know. He did give of himself. It seemed so anyhow. I did learn goal-setting from him. But, I found a way to take it further and accomplish most of mine.
Andy sighed and took a sip of coffee.
“So,” I said, “Please continue. Give me a couple of more examples of these categories.”
“Yes, then we’ll move to strategies and tactics.”
This area represents anything that has to do with your money. Whether it be how much you wish to earn during a certain time period, how much you would prefer to see in your savings account, whether you will invest a specific amount in 401K or IRA or independent stocks and bonds, etc. It’s all here. Spending habits can also fall into this category. And, of course, there can be cross-over benefit. If you are giving up pop and coffee under diet, you will save here. Everything should eventually work together and support the others. But, yes, something as simple as having an additional $5,000 in savings by the end of the year would definitely be written down here. Of course, as was said, they are connected. To place an additional five grand in a savings account, one would imagine that one would not be forced to use what might currently be in the account. So, hopefully income and spending habits are sound and there is not an unforeseen emergency. If so, re-evaluate.
“Olay, I’ve got it. The first thing I need to do is map out my goals under subjects, or create subjects under which to place and focus upon my goals.”
“Yes, let me briefly go over the others I use on a consistent basis. Spiritual and Psychological, as much as one might view a connection, can be separated easily. Spirituality is soul-based. Psychological is devoted to the mind. I am not a specialist is either field, so we won’t go into it any deeper really. But, church, charity work, donations, all fall under spiritual with a whole host of other things. Clearing your mind through the practice of meditation, perhaps, falls into the realm of the psychological. Yoga might be under this category, with heavy resistance training in the Physical area. Reading or listening to related psychological subject matter falls under this as well. If I am able to listen to a motivational audio book, it would be here rather than educational, let’s say.
The educational subject matter could include the learning of a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument. It does not just have to be reading a book or completing a course, although those things are here too. Just use a little sense. More importantly, if it seems to fit to you, write it in there. Remember, this is for the you, not others. Of course, a new roof and gutters would seem to fall into the House and Home area, wouldn’t they?”
I had to agree.
“And breaking 85 on the golf course would be an Outside Interest,” I proposed.
“Yes, absolutely. I think you have the idea. Now let’s look at these sheets more closely. Once filled-out, I find placing them in a plastic insert and into a binder is helpful.”
Andy handed me sets of papers. Each set had three pages of grids. One had “Goals” in the top header. One had “Strategies.” The other had “Tactics.” He furthered and mentioned again that anyone can make those as simple or complex as he or she would like. He recommended simplicity, especially for the beginner. Not as much initial motivation or fun perhaps as seeing the possibilities of what might be accomplished, but it has a higher success rate. He knew this from experience. Although he stated that he was highly proficient at setting and accomplishing goals when he finally committed to losing weight, he required simplicity and no other distractions. So there was only one goal on the sheet which could easily post better than 30 – it was the weight of under 200 lbs. This was the target at the time. He had weighed-in at 233 lbs. His strategy page had writing in the physical field only. “Commit to a weight loss regimen which will bring my weight to the desired number within the given period. Under Tactics, he wrote only “join Weight Watchers” and “join a gym.” Then he told me something that hit me hard. “Plans don’t fail,” he said. “People do.” It didn’t matter what weight loss program or diet (within reason) or what workout routine (again, within reason), they all work, if they are followed. That is why reviewing goals, strategies, and tactics on a daily basis is so vital.
Moving along, we will break down the time periods. The first set of sheets will represent my long term or 3-5 year Goals, Strategies, and Tactics. The second set would represent one year from now. The third would be quarterly, then only a to-do list for daily activity. And all daily activity should be pursuant of all goals
“Okay,” Andy continued. “We now talk about Strategies and Tactics. These are what separate very specific and crystal clear goals from pipe dreams. One can have a target, but we need plans to get there. One can have all the Strategies or plans one desires, but we need actions to support and accomplish the plans. See, it’s all tied together. For instance, how much money would you need to retire the way you would like to?”
“I would need to make another half a million dollars – not net, but total. That would give me enough take-home.”
“You said you wanted to retire in the next 4-5 years – matching long-term time table perfectly – so you need to make $100,000 to $120,000 per year over this time period. Or, more quickly, if you want to move up the timetable. But, what about the cost of education if you wish to design and build your own houses after that. You need to figure that as well. You also wanted to drop some weight. You have set and accomplished goals in the past, but let’s not place too much on your plate right now. Let’s start this off as if you were brand new at this. We’ll set up our sheets and our timeframes. We will break it down to a single day with a to-do list. Remember, a to-do list can be as basic as a yellow legal pad to an Outlook calendar or anything else, so long as it helps to accomplish the tasks.
We are going to plan to live, not live to plan… Life will evade you. What about the present? Live in the moment. The “what ifs” are too much pressure.
Plan too much and it’s over. When your plans must change because you are no longer able to do certain things… No matter. Re-evaluate.
Getting started, I would recommend using only the Goals page for the 3-5 year and one-year targets. Strategies and Tactics are left for the shorter terms: quarterly, monthly, or weekly, if you have these. The reason is that plans and actions might have to be altered far more frequently. To quote a cliché: ‘You can’t take your eyes off the prize;’ having a little more flexibility for wisdom and adjustment is important while you weave your path…
Andy told me he would run me through a couple of areas here, then I could take time to adjust and complete as needed. The first 3-5 year subject was PROFESSIONAL. Based on the financial goals, I had to sell “x” number of houses at my average commission rate over the past couple of years. I broke it down to yearly then quarterly. Once that was done, I added strategies and tactics. With my particular closing ratio, my strategy was to commit to listing and giving world-class presentations on a certain number of homes. My activities or tactics included making more contacts, studying closing techniques to make myself more efficient, practicing presentation skills, etc.
I also chose to go over PHYSICAL. I needed to lose more weight than Andy had and my beginning point was much higher. I was approaching 300 pounds at the time of this meeting. I had a large frame, and I had been athletic in the past, but this was too much. I felt that 215 at a body fat level of 12 percent would put me in a good place. THIS was my main physical goal for the 3-5 year period. I felt that I could safely get to under 260 within the year. My strategy was similar to Andy’s, but when we talked tactics I was a bit more detailed. No processed foods anymore, I told myself. And I had to cut back on the beer – twice a week? I had to commit. The following is what these looked like…
I had learned enough to be dangerous. I, too, knew enough to fill my life with the nothingness of uncontrolled goal-setting. I would get with Ben again to have my best shot at the accomplishment of these things. For now, I will remember to review my goal sheets EVERY SINGLE DAY!
CHAPTER TWO EXERCISES:
Once you have finished this chapter, immediately set time aside to create goal sheets of your own. Be specific, make sure the goals are measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. Start slowly and work your way up. Understand that this will be the first day of your new life. You will have targets. You will develop plans and actions to see them through. Be excited and know that one can achieve nearly anything taking a little bit at a time. If you would like the grids you have seen here in this chapter, just go to hamiltonsalestraining.com and click the Motivation tab followed by the Free Downloads. You will find a printable PDF there.
It matters not your age or your station in life. Begin your successes now!
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