The story is told of Albert Einstein who was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets.
It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.” Einstein nodded appreciatively.
The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.
The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”
Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”
Although the story may or may not have validity, it does cause one to stop and think about where they are going in life. People often aimlessly drift through life and their careers with no set destination. They fail to set goals and therefore fail to develop a strategy for success.
A goal is like a destination and the plan to achieve that goal is the road map that will get you there. We are all traveling somewhere in this life and in our careers. Without a defined destination and a roadmap to get us there, we have no way of knowing what that destination looks and if we’ve arrived at the right spot. Radio personality, Earl Nightingale once said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.”
Goals Create Clarity of Purpose
With so many things calling for our time and attention, it’s easy to get distracted. My wife and I enjoy visiting New England in the fall to see the changing of the leaves. “Leaf peepers” is what we’re called. We put a lot of miles on our rental car as we often stay at a different location in a different state each night. As we leave one charming bed and breakfast inn located in Vermont and head for another in New Hampshire, we usually jump off the freeway and take many of the back roads where we get a chance to see old barns, quaint farms and more colorful trees. It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of it all and lose track of where we’re headed. At some point we find our way back to the freeway or a more direct route in order to arrive at our next destination.
Leaf peeping in New England is a bit different than life and career goals. While distractions may come, having specific goals will help minimize those distractions and keep you focused on doing what’s important.
Goals Create a Course to Follow
Success doesn’t just happen, it happens by design. Upon determining a goal, one has to develop a plan to achieve it. While there are many speakers and authors who have written and spoken about goal setting, Zig Ziglar, in his book, “Goals: Setting Them and Achieving Them on Schedule,” developed a 7-step process that works well. Below is a brief description of that process:
- Decide exactly what you want and write it down.
- Set a deadline for yourself.
- Determine the obstacles you will have to overcome to achieve your goal.
- Determine the additional knowledge, skills and abilities you will need to reach your goal.
- Determine the people, groups and organizations whose help you will need to achieve your goal.
- Make a plan to achieve your goal.
- Perhaps the most important of all: Take action immediately on your plan.
There is no, “one way and only way” for developing a plan for successfully reaching your goals. There are many ways to do it and for each person it might look different. What’s important though, is to take the time to identify your goals and determine a plan, a course to follow. As author Brian Tracy said, “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”
Goals Create a Concentrated Effort
Determining goals and writing a plan to achieve them is only part of the process. In order to stay focused on the plan and develop a concentrated effort to reach your goals, you must continually review them. Sometimes you have to modify and adjust the plan. It’s easy to set your written goals and plan aside and forget about them for long periods of time. One should consistently review the plan and make sure progress is being made.
As we near the end of another year, it’s always good to relook, refocus and refine the goals and plans we have in place. For those who have yet to develop goals, take the time to establish some and develop a plan and course for success in achieving them. Consider various areas of your life when developing goals such as, family, spiritual, education, work, volunteerism and other relationships.
One way of defining success is simply stated, “the progressive accomplishment of worthy goals.” With that being said, may you find much success in the coming year.
Mark Turner is President/CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. After 20 years of sales and marketing, he left the corporate world and served 12 years in the ministry as an Associate Pastor before accepting his current position with the Chamber of Commerce.