Setting Goals That Work

Research supports the view that healthy self-esteem can be acquired more effectively and has more positive results by setting realistic goals and working toward those goals than by chanting affirmations and seeking praise from others. The remainder of this book is activity and goal intensive. Each of the following chapters offers an activity to help you find your self-esteem.

Getting What You Want and Wanting What You Get

Goal setting sounds so simple because we do it in our heads and “off the cuff” on an hourly basis. However, goal setting is serious business if you are serious about changing some negative qualities about your life, working toward positive outcomes, and acquiring healthier self-esteem. It is the road map that can take you to places few people even dream of, much less actually get to visit.

A goal is anything that you can have, be, or do. Goals can be financial, spiritual, health-related, educational, social, family, professional, or personal. They can range from short-term goals to long-term goals. They can be as simple as a daily goal of clearing your desk of incoming work or as lofty as starting your own business.

In 1953, a goal-setting study was conducted at Yale University. Students were asked if they had a goal and a plan. Only 3 percent replied yes. In 1973, a follow-up study was conducted and it was found that the 3 percent who had goals and a plan had a combined net worth that was greater than the remaining 97 percent of the class.

Goals need to have a few guidelines, however. They need to be realistic and believable. They do not need to be realistic and believable to others, only to you. They need to be internal. This means that you want the goal for you and not someone else. Goals need to be measurable so that you can gauge your progress, and goals need to be controllable. Controllable means that you are in charge of the outcome, not another person. You can't have a goal that professes to change another person or a goal that relies on others for completion.

One goal should not contradict another goal. For example, if you have set a goal to spend more time with your children or spouse or friends, and you have set a goal to work as many hours as is humanly possible to get a promotion, you've set goals that are at odds with each other. Neither will be reached.

This also means that a minor goal must not contradict an overriding life goal. For example: Your overriding life goal, the goal that drives everything in your life, may be this: “I will never betray, hurt, or malign another human being to achieve any possession, success, or status.” Now, if you had another goal that stated, “I will succeed as a nurse (or designer or teacher or writer or engineer) at any cost,” this goal would be in opposition to your overriding life goal.

What factors contribute to the failure of my goals?

People fail at their goals for many reasons. They procrastinate and don't take any positive actions, they do not plan their objectives well, they do not have all of the information needed to be successful in the goal, the goal is not realistic or believable to them, and lastly, goals can fail because people are not committed to the changes that a goal can bring.

The Verb Is the Thing … and So Is the Date

Goals should be written with an action verb. You should not begin a goal statement with phrases such as “I want to …” or “I plan to …” These are goals that will never be reached, because they have no punch, no conviction! Begin with terms such as, “I am going to …” or “I will …” Notice the difference between the two? The first two are indecisive, while the last two are determined.

A goal must have a completion date. Without setting a time frame in which to achieve the goal, there is no push, no immediacy, and no sense of willpower for that goal to be reached. Without a completion date, you are saying that you really do not have a commitment to that goal.

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  3. Getting Ready for the Journey
  4. Setting Goals That Work
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