Know What You Want, "The First Step in a Successful Life"
By Greg A. Pestinger
Last month, we talked about the importance of knowing yourself; your purpose, your values and your brand as foundational to living an authentic and meaningful life. Now that we have that in place, having absolute clarity in what we want to achieve with that life is the first step to ensure that our lives bring value to others, are fulfilling and lead to realizing our full potential.
Knowing what we want is critical to focusing our time on what matters most. Knowing and achieving what we want builds self-confidence, self-esteem and the ability to face our fears. Knowing what we want is simply setting and achieving goals that points us in the direction of living a life of purpose and meaning.
Brian Tracy, well known author and business coach, says that “Goals are the master skill of success” the one skill that makes all success possible. Let’s take a look at four key steps in defining what we want; clarity, a positive mindset, balance and major definite purpose.
Absolute Clarity – There is a direct correlation between clarity of what you want in life and how likely you are to achieve it. Do we have goals that are so clear that an eight-year-old would understand? Do we have a plan and a target for completion? Absolute clarity and focus is essential to goal achievement. It has been said that “if you don’t know where you are going, you will most likely end up somewhere else.” Absolute clarity of what you want will insure that your final destination is the one that you intended.
One way to insure clarity is to apply the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal setting. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, aligned with your values, realistic and time bound. Specific, what exactly is it that you want to achieve? Measurable, how will you know you have achieved your goal? Aligned with your values, does the goal align with who you are and what you stand for? Realistic, do you believe that you can achieve the goal. Time bound, when do you plan to achieve your goal?
A Positive Mindset – Do we think about our goals constantly and ways to achieve them? Psychologist have known for years that those who are constantly thinking about what they want and how to get it are happier, more in demand and have a higher rate of success. They can visualize success and its impact on the people they care about. Setting and achieving goals drives higher levels of self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence and leads to achievement of even greater goals in the future.
On the other hand, those who are constantly thinking about what they want to avoid are far less successful. They tend to make excuses, place blame or hold on to the past as reasons for not achieving what they want. They become bitter, angry and depressed. Taking personal responsibility for your own success is key to breaking down the barriers that get in the way of achieving your goals, especially those self-limiting beliefs that you have created in your own head.
Balance – Living a balanced life is the secret to living a happy life. It has been said that “variety is the spice of life” and goal setting is no different. Balance in goal setting should address all major areas of your life including your career, your relationships, your health, and your wealth. Set clear goals for your career and income both short term and long term. Know what you want from your relationships with family, friends and your community. Make sure you are focusing on building a sound mind, sound body and sound spirit. Plan for your future and make sure that you have investments in place that allow you to live the life you have always wanted by being financially independent in your golden years.
Neglecting one area of your life will impact all others. I have known many who put all their eggs in the “career” basket, later to find their family life in shambles, health problems and spiritual emptiness that came full circle to destroy their career, leaving them with nothing but despair and crisis. Insure that you have at least one major goal in each area of your life and you will find that all parts will work together in harmony toward success.
Major Definite Purpose – Identify the one goal that has the greatest impact on your life, the one goal that is most important to you, motivates you and makes you happy. Work on this single handedly until it is complete before moving on to the next goal on your list. Your major goal should be a stretch, but one you believe is achievable. Write it down. Let me say that again, WRITE IT DOWN. A Harvard study found that only 3% of us have written goals and those with written goals achieved levels of success equivalent to the remaining 97% combined. Writing down your goals programs the sub conscious mind and energizes you to focus on ways to achieve them. Those ways will become your plan and combined with action takes your goal from a mere hope or dream to the catalyst that will change your life.
A clear and concise knowledge of what we want is critical to ensure that we are focused on leading a meaningful and successful life. As it is so often, simply knowing is and has never really been the problem. Actually, doing the work to achieve your goals is what separates the successful from those who simply exist and fumble their way through life.
“Knowing what you want” is the roadmap for getting where you want to go and for making your impact on the world and those around you. Knowing what you want and doing the work to get it done will ensure that you live a successful and energized life.
Join us next month as we explore and add “prioritizing your time” to the equation for a happy and successful life. Time is our most precious resource and when used correctly allows us to prioritize our wants to ensure that we are working on the right things to deliver our greatest dreams and realize our full potential.