Goals. How do you hit them? How do you place them within sane and profitable range? How do you avoid the extremes of setting the bar too low—being unchallenged and bored—and shooting unrealistically high (and being discouraged and defeated)?
I once had a helpful conversation at work. One of my colleagues and I were discussing the importance of setting goals that were challenging yet attainable. My friend told me that when he was an insurance salesman, he and his fellow agents would huddle in the mornings and lay out their sales goals for that particular day. His buddies would generally shoot for the moon: “I’m gonna sell ten policies today.” He would set more modest but sufficiently difficult targets: “I’m going to sell two of this policy and one of that package.” And he would usually hit the mark, while his co-workers failed to meet theirs and were thus discouraged.
There’s an old adage that says “slow and steady wins the race.” This, of course, is a nod to Aesop’s famous story of The Tortoise and the Hare. Through patient plodding, the much slower and ungainly tortoise won the race over the flashy and fleet-of-foot hare. If you persevere, you win.
This is not to discourage the practice of giving yourself a worthy but difficult task. But it is important to keep a healthy balance between mediocrity and insanity. Those who avoid the shoals on either side generally sail on to success.
What are your goals for 1) continuing education—whether at a learning institution or through self-education via reading, listening and viewing, 2) physical fitness and weight loss, 3) strengthening your relationships, 4) improving your vocational skills? Have you written them down, which is critical to their fulfillment, having engaged your conscious and subconscious mind by doing so? Have you a process, broken down into manageable bites—“baby steps”—whereby you can meet these destinations?
Here are some of the benefits one derives from setting goals and then meeting them:
- You get the benefit of meeting the goal itself. If you lose that portly thirty pounds, you feel better about yourself and have become healthier. If you learn a new skill, you can use that to help others, elevate your station and earn more.
- You receive a boost in self-confidence and self-respect rooted in genuine accomplishment, rather than in aspiration and fantasy.
- You strengthen your goal-attainment muscles because you are encouraged that, yes, you can do this!
Set goals. Set them high enough to stretch you. Write them down, with concrete dates and metrics indicating you’ve met them. Then hit them!