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By Dr. Phil Humbert

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No More Goals!

This week I listened to a tape on the value of having and pursuing goals. I'd forgotten how deadly that can be!

The speaker recommended having a definite set of long-term goals, then intermediate goals, and finally, a clearly defined daily list of things to do to reach your goals. It was well thought out and well presented. But he never mentioned WHO was going to do this or WHY! For years, I've been fascinated to understand why most people don't change, and how a few people do! I believe part of the problem is setting too many goals, too often.

People tell us we should set and achieve goals, and we trust them, so we write out, or at least think through, another set. We put them in our notebook or slap them on the refrigerator and promptly ignore them. We then get frustrated, feel bad and decide we have failed again.

There's an old story that goes like this. You can start with the laziest, most unmotivated person in the world, take him (or her) out to the middle of a deep lake, hold their head under water for a few seconds and an amazing thing happens. They suddenly become the most motivated, focused and determined person in the world! What happened? What caused this total transformation?

Well, obviously, they suddenly had a goal—to get another breath of air. But, behind that goal were three additional, essential pieces. First, they had a very clear VISION of what both success and failure might look like. Second, they had a REASON for achieving their goal. And third, they developed a STRATEGY for reaching their goal. It may not have been elegant or graceful, but by screaming and thrashing and flailing away they hoped to get that next breath of air. That's how we achieve most things in life.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to make big changes in your life and make them quickly:

1. Develop a precise VISION, or image, of what you want for your life. Notice all the nuances, colors, sights and sounds of the life you want. This is probably not about having money or a house or material things. For most people, a compelling vision involves service, personal expression and achievement. Clarify your vision!

2. Also, spend a few moments considering the alternative. Get very precise about what your life will be like if you don't change. Know what it will feel like if you don't go after your vision. And, decide if that's OK with you. If it is, change is unlikely at any deep or permanent level. But, if a future without change is totally unacceptable, you're on the right track.

3. Make absolutely certain the VISION is your own! Too many people are trying to achieve someone else's goals. Striving to become the person someone else wants you to be won't work. Stop trying.

4. Clarify your REASONS for wanting your objective. The guy with his head under water has a very specific reason for all that screaming and thrashing! If you want to create lasting change in your life, you'll need reasons (lots of them!) that are just as powerful. A vision that is merely "nice" or because "I've always dreamed of it" is unlikely to happen. Either find powerful REASONS - or find a different vision.

5. Write your VISION and your REASONS down and put them on the refrigerator or in your notebook. Don't worry about the list of goals. Your VISION and REASONS are the important pieces.

6. Develop a STRATEGY for getting what you want. This part is not terribly important, but it will save you time and energy. If you know exactly what you want, and are passionate about achieving it, you will find a way. But, having an efficient strategy feels good and will get you there faster.

7. Every day, do the things that you know are vital to move you toward your vision. Thomas Carlyle said, "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand". Trust yourself, and do what needs to be done. Take ACTION, and do it today!

Every human being knows their life is unique and vitally important. We only have a limited amount of time, and there are things we need to be doing. For some, it is raising children, for others it's inventing or building or creating art. But deep inside, we all have a vision—some call it a sense of purpose, or destiny, or the call of God. Whatever it is, we are restless and uncomfortable until we clarify it and take steps to fulfill it.

When you clarify that VISION, and develop a powerful, driving set of REASONS to pursue it, your success is inevitable. The how and when are merely details you'll decide along the way. Live YOUR life and do the things YOU know you are meant to do, and the rest is just the story of how you got it done!


Dr. Philip E. Humbert is a psychologist and professional coach. He lives in Eugene, Oregon. Visit his web site for over 200 Pages of articles, Top 10 lists, humor, quotes, a free weekly newsletter and more.


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Last Updated 04/22/2004