As you’d expect, when I ask people about their goals I get different reactions. There are those who become glossy-eyed trying to figure out what I mean, because they’re just trying to get through the day.
The majority fall in range, from those who’ve never articulated their goals before, to those who are specific, write them down and have a clear plan. These folks have a good chance of success.
There’s another interesting group, people who have huge goals. Gigantic goals, really, and they’re going to save the world and solve any number of problems that we face along the way. Maybe they’re going to start a new business, make millions, no billions of dollars in a very short period of time and the world will be a better place for them having been here. You’re sure they already have the casts for the statues.
Their goals are exciting. Their vision is vivid and clear and when you hear it you can’t help but want to join them, give them money — anything just to be a part of the excitement. Their enthusiasm is contagious and addictive. You’d hate not being a part of it all.
Their passion is so palatable you get goosebumps and you’re convinced there’s no way that they couldn’t achieve their goal. Then it strikes you. You realize, they don’t work on their goal. This becomes clear when you ask them, “How much?” and “By when?” They get confused. “A lot” and “Soon” is there vague reply, if they reply at all. The illusion comes crashing down, because as exciting as a big goal is, it’s irrelevant without working on it. It’s no better than those just trying to get through the day, whose goal was to not fall asleep at work. In fact, at least those people exert some effort.
Some say little goals are created by little people and big goals by big people. I think it’s irrelevant. I don’t care about the size of your goal. I don’t care if it’s SMART, I want it to be intelligent and I want it to be great for you. Setting a great goal influences your daily thoughts and that will influence your beliefs. And if it influences your beliefs it will influence your attitude. And in shifting your great attitude, it will influence your choices. And if you make great choices, you’re going to practice great behaviors. And if you act on your great behaviors you’ll have great experiences in life. Great experiences create great emotions and great emotions compel you to think even greater thoughts.
I often quote JFK, no stranger to setting big goals, when he spoke about why going to the moon was important.
“Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
It’s important to have a great goal that you work on, not an irrelevant goal that you talk about all the time but don’t ever do anything about. When you do that, you are the boy who cried wolf. One day, perhaps by luck, you will achieve a goal and no one will notice or care.
It’s better to quietly commit to a goal to yourself and to a trusted advisor, friend or colleague who will hold you accountable to yourself. It’s better to work in a great goal quietly every day, regardless of its size then it is to noisily pretend to chase something.