There’s a wise saying popularly attributed to baseball legend Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Here’s how I unpack that wisdom: We have to know what our goals are, and we also have to know the specific behaviors that support those goals… otherwise, we may end up supporting someone else’s plan, rather than our own. With that sobering thought in mind, consider this list of five behaviors that are essential the achievement of any worthwhile personal goal.
Behavior #1: Take stock of your current reality and where you want to be. In order to create a GPS-like “guidance system” that will automatically direct you to success, you must first know where you are now and where you want to go. How would you rank your current reality in the most important areas of your life? You might start by focusing in on areas like health, finances, spirituality, and personal relationships. Where are you now in comparison with where you would like to be in each of those areas? What baggage are you carrying and bringing with you on this trip? Where are you afraid to go? What might be holding you back in one or more of these areas? Where do you want to be? What are your dreams for your future?
Behavior #2: Define and visualize your dreams and mission. Start ten years out and begin dreaming about what is possible. Dream big! Work your way back to today and set some goals for intermediate progress. Write a personal mission statement about WHY you will do these things. (Don’t get sidetracked with the HOW until Behavior #3.)
Behavior #3: Set SMARTER goals that help you build momentum. This is where you can start getting specific about the specific activities that support your goals – the HOW. Prioritize your goals, then refine them until you are absolutely certain they are Specific (clear about what you want to accomplish), Measurable (clear about how you will know for sure it’s been accomplished), Attainable (clear about the specific actions you will need to take to turn this goal into reality), Relevant (clear about why this goal is worth YOU taking action on), and Timebound (clear about the date when this goal will be accomplished.) Set aggressive but realistic timetables. Decide how you will measure and track your progress.
Behavior #4: Visualize yourself as the person you always dreamed you could be. Take the time to see (and hear, and feel) yourself experiencing the attainment of each of your important goals. Who do you need to become to accomplish these goals? What do you need to do more of, do better, or differently? What do you need to learn or what skills do you need to acquire?
Stretch your comfort zones and burn your bridges to get committed to the plan!
Behavior #5: Keep track. Get focused, be mindful, and keep a journal. Monitor your progress toward the goal daily, in writing. Be honest with yourself about setbacks. Celebrate victories, especially the small ones. Cultivate a support group of peers you can support who will support you in turn; discuss your goals with others who can help you move forward on attaining them.
David H. Sandler, the founder of our company, said, “Decide what you want, build a plan, and you can bet on the outcome!”