Many surveys have been conducted into goal setting and is widely cited that less than 5% of the human race know how to set goals. It is also claimed that less than 5% of us actually have goals and whilst that figure may seem somewhat ridiculous the figure is based on the difference between goals and fantasies. Ask practically anyone what they want and they can reel off a list of possessions such as; the big house, the fancy car, the perfect holiday, winning the lottery, etc… These aren’t goals though, merely day dreams, merely fantasies and virtually everyone has fantasies.
A fantasy is something where we envisage a final outcome, i.e. having the big house, being on the perfect holiday, driving the perfect car, etc… yet give no real thought about how we get there from where we currently are. On the other hand a goal is something that an individual commits to achieving. It is something where there is a plan, a series of steps and actions that an individual will undertake to perform and keep on progressing, moving forward as they do until achieving their desired outcome. It is something where an individual commits themselves to taking persistent action, on a daily basis and where they will keep going, irrespective how difficult or far away their desired achievement may be. A goal is something that people commit to achieving which, when their plan is not getting them where they want to be they will evaluate, make decisions and changes for and then continue forward with action. A goal is something where people will press onwards irrespective whatever of the amount of difficulty or challenge that they will face.
It is said the main reason people don’t set goals is the fear of failure. The vast majority of people don’t like to fail, even the very thought of failure is enough to stop them setting a goal. They like the idea, the feeling, the anticipated satisfaction of achievement but the fear of failure stops most people stretching themselves. For successful people that anticipated sense of achievement is so powerful they are prepared to deal with whatever setbacks and negatives may befall them as for them that sense of achievement is greater, as a result it drives them on when most people will give up.
For most people failure is something to fear. It is a place where they can be ridiculed, where they can be mocked. It is a place where they will feel at their lowest, where they will question their own abilities and can even find themselves questioning their own existence in extreme cases. Failure is a place where they have to accept they have limitations. And the fear of being there, of being a failure is so great that many people don’t even attempt to succeed. You can often hear people give up before they even have set about achieving something and you can hear it with the words they choose to use. One word in particular gives the signal that someone will not achieve … and that word is ‘try’.
One Small Step for Mankind (… But gees … It’s A Big One)!
When we hear someone say they will ‘try’ something what they are saying is, “I will go through the motions but I already know it won’t work”. So, in that case, why do they bother doing anything? Because people also hate the idea of not having aspiration. It ‘fly’s in the face of what our brain is wired for – to set and achieve goals. Having now said the word ‘try’ most people can have-a-go (but not really), put in a less than full effort (<100%), have their ‘attempt’ fall short of success and then blame other factors … “I tried but … it wasn’t to be!” “How was I to know what the economy would do?” “How was I to know the bus would be 10 minutes late?” … and so on. And they look for consolation from other ‘try’-ers who give them the assurance that not succeeding is what happens to ordinary people. In doing so they unwittingly propagate the myth that successful people have luck, a guardian angel or a charmed-life that most of us don’t and put success out of reach of anyone happy to believe it.
If we want to succeed, whatever it may be; weight loss, a bigger house, fancier car, that millionaire lifestyle then we have to realise that ‘try’ has nothing to do with it. To quote Yoda in Star Wars, “Do or don’t do … there is no try”. We need to throw ourselves into it 100% (there is never more than that despite contestants on talent shows, sportspeople and so on who will say they will give something 110%!) All we have to do is our best following a plan. And if it doesn’t work we need to evaluate what was good, what needs to be better, develop an improved plan and do our best again. 100% is all it takes.