A great entrepreneur of his time, J.C. Penney once said, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.” Every great accomplishment and achievement in our world, or in our personal lives, has been the result of reaching a goal. Think about it for a minute. Try and name one great accomplishment or achievement that was the result of an accident or mistake. Certainly luck may have been involved in some achievements, but not many. The real reason for any success or accomplishment is that a goal was created, a plan was laid out, and hard work took over. That is the formula for success.
There are multiple strategies and techniques for setting and achieving goals… some better than others. Common among each of these strategies, however, is the need to answer three specific questions: WHAT, WHY, and HOW. Taking the time to truly answer each of these questions will make all the difference, not in just achieving goals, but in achieving success and becoming the person you want to be.
“What do you want to be?” Notice that the question is not, “What do you want to have?” The typical goal scenario follows the pattern, “I want to have X, therefore I will do Y, and then I will be Z.” The fatal flaw with that thought process is that what we have does not necessarily determine who we are. This is why you see so many people with unlimited possessions, and yet they are still unhappy. Reverse the pattern so that it reads, “I want to be Z, therefore I will do Y, and then I will have X.” Use your imagination. Now is the time to be creative, to set your sights high, and truly determine who and WHAT you want to be.
The next question to ask yourself is, “Why do I want to do it?” or, “Why do I want to become that person?” This is perhaps the most important step in the goal-setting process. It is the step that will keep you on balance, that will keep you grounded. If you can answer WHY in the very beginning, you will have the motivation and determination to push through when trials arise and you want to quit or give up. Answering WHY in the very beginning will let you know that you are working towards a goal for the right reason and that you will not be disappointed in the end. Too often we reach our goal only to be disappointed that it didn’t give us the results that we wanted. If you can answer WHY in the beginning, you will keep yourself from being disappointed in the end.
Now that you have the WHAT and the WHY, you need to determine the HOW. “How are you going to achieve the goal?” “What is your strategy or plan?” “Who can help?” This is the meat of the goal. Now is the time to put in the monthly, weekly and daily tasks that you will need to reach the goal. Many times it is necessary to look for support in this step of the goal. Look to someone that has already accomplished what you are trying to do. How did they do it? What was their plan? Will they help you? There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Generally it will honor the person that you are asking and it will make it easier for you to become the person that you want to become. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Now it is your turn to start. It is now your turn to succeed. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Who do I want to be?” Remember the quote from Michelangelo: “The greatest danger is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Take the time to walk through the formula – WHAT, WHY, HOW. That is a formula that will lead to your success. Good luck!