By Douglas Vermeeren
Have you ever set a goal and wondered why you couldn’t accomplish it? You are not the first person to feel this way. In fact, studies show that more than 86 percent of people who set goals fail. And, of those who do succeed, a surprising 30 percent find they are not able to maintain the newly acquired success in the long term. So, why even set goals?
The truth is, the traditional goal-setting method is no longer effective, even though most teachers, books, trainers, coaches and schools are still following that line of thinking. You have no doubt heard this method many times: write it down, set a date, make an action plan and build the steps backwards from success. Unfortunately, this is no longer the correct formula for success. The world’s top achievers – the best of the best – achieve success by doing things a bit differently.
Why top achievers don’t use traditional goal setting.
The traditional goal-setting method was developed in the late 1800s in the manufacturing industry; if you wanted to produce X number of units at the end of the assembly line you would need to do A, B, C and D in order to get X number of units. While this method works well in factories, it produces limited, short-lived results for people.
The problem is this system only takes the process into account, not the participant. We are human “beings” not human “doings.” This common formula teaches what we can do but not what we can be. Without a significant change in our thinking, behavior and expectations, we can never develop a habit of success, one that develops regardless of the process we use. Goal achievement is not just about process, it must first address the participant. If you want long-term success, being the right person is just as important as doing the right things.
Top achievers get clarity on why they are going.
Many goal-setting coaches encourage their students to gain clarity on where they want to go in order to get there. While this idea is accurate, most people fail to actually define clarity.
Many define clarity as a description of the final destination, such as where you see yourself in 10 years. Anyone who has tried to define clarity this way has found that it’s extremely difficult to describe where she is going if she has never been there before. Therefore, this definition of clarity is incomplete when used in the context of goal achievement.
While you should outline as many of these details as possible before you begin on the road to achieving a specific goal, you must understand and accept that no matter how hard you try, you can never really have a complete picture of that end destination.
Clarity is strongest when it focuses on an “inward now,” instead of looking at a “geographical location.” In other words, clarity has more to do with why you want something than with what it is you want.
Instead of just trying to describe where you are going, ask yourself why you are going there. What does this mean to you? The more personal you can make this goal, the more power and motivation you will have to get it. Make your “why” strong, and keep digging deeper with questions until you have a burning desire to attain it. Most of the reasons why people fail to achieve a specific goal can be traced right back to this one point. Without a reason “why,” no one really cares about the destination of “what.”
Top achievers don’t think of success as crossing a finish line, they think in terms of running the race.
It’s very interesting to see posters encouraging people who endeavor to capture their success by crossing a finish line, because the truth is, true success has no finish line. Top achievers understand that success is a continual process, and the successes and failures of today are used to build the powerful experiences of tomorrow. Every opportunity today is contributing to an opportunity tomorrow. Every experience contributes to learning.
If you cross a finish line today only to rest tomorrow, how can your success continue? Look for ways to continue to grow and expand, and uncover ways to build each success upon the next opportunity.
Top achievers set their goals differently, and that is why they achieve successes that others only dream about. Learning to “be” instead of just to “do,” gaining true clarity by finding out “why” and committing to continual growth is essential in the achievement process. When you understand and implement the principles of top achievement, dramatic changes will happen for you.