by Cathy Jameson, PhD

I always begin a consultation or lecture by laying what I consider to be the foundation for success — goal setting. Successful people and businesses all share one common trait: They write down their goals.

Webster defines a goal as "an end that one strives to attain." A goal is a tangible objective. Many people have a vague idea of what they want to achieve in life, but few spend the time and energy to plan for successful achievement of those goals.

A goal does not become a goal until it is written down. Unwritten, a goal is only a dream or a wish. It is OK to dream and wish, but why not turn those dreams into realities?

Why do people fail to write down their goals? The main reason is that they don't know how. Let me give you an introductory lesson to goal setting.

I recommend writing goals for three distinct areas:

  • Personal and family goals
  • Career goals
  • Self-improvement goals

These areas are so interrelated that it is difficult to separate them. Your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental fortitude affect your work, which in turn affects your family life. It's crucial to prioritize your life and to let nothing get in the way of that balance.

Zig Ziglar recommends that we focus attention on what and who you want to be, what you want to do, and what you want or desire to have. Then, you must accomplish these goals. Writing the goal is the first step to accomplishing it, but it is not the end result. You must have a specific process for goal accomplishment.

Here are the essential steps:

  • Write the goal.
  • Design the plan. Form a strategy. What must you do in terms of specific tasks?
  • Determine who is personally responsible for performing each task.
  • Time-activate. When must each task be completed?
  • Evaluate. How is it going? Do you need to adjust your plan? What have you learned from the proposed plan of action?

After you have designed a plan, put it into action. So many of us fall short right here! We know what we want, we design a great plan, but we never expend the energies necessary to put the plan into effect.

During the evaluation phase, you may need to address the issue of barriers. Determine if there is something you need to learn or a path you need to clear before continuing your journey. Once you identify those barriers, make it your business to clear them!

Goals should be both short and long-term. You must know where you want to go if you are to ever get there! Start with a 20-year forecast and then work backwards — 10 years, five years, one year, monthly, weekly, and, finally, daily. A large group of well-managed days makes for great weeks, which lead to satisfactory months, excellent years, and a goal-oriented, satisfied lifetime. Keeping your goals written down keeps you on track and allows you to make those necessary changes as you evolve. Those lifetime goals may be somewhat vague, but the more specific, short-term goals are more action-oriented and will assure you that your footing is solid.

We are responsible for our own success or failure. Choose to succeed! Until you make the commitment to control your life, you never will.

The first step to success is deciding to be a success. The next step is to gain control of your life. writing your goals is part of the process of gaining control.

Don't wait — write the word "procrastinate" on a piece of paper, light a match, and burn it! Start the journey to success and happiness now!

Cathy Jameson, PhD, is president of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental lecture and consulting firm. She has been a featured speaker for the major dental meetings throughout the world and is an adjunct faculty member of the Oklahoma University School of Dentistry and as associate professor at the NYU College of Dentistry. Her books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. Contact Dr. Jameson at (580) 369-5555, or email cathy@jameosnmanage ment.com

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