To work and win in this world of change we must dedicate ourselves to crafting personal and organizational goals that are so attractive, so alluring, that we are compelled to continually make choices that move us toward their accomplishment.
As a noun, craft can mean an object or machine designed for a journey, like a ship or an airplane.
As a verb, craft can mean to make or manufacture with skill and careful attention to detail.
A goal is the aim, the objective, the purpose, the point.
Goal-crafting is the practice of creating personal and organizational targets that are so clear, so detailed, so sound, so enticing and leakproof that they actually become tools or vessels in our journey to their accomplishment.
Our lives and organizations will surely change without well-crafted goals, but it is doubtful that they will progress.
Well-crafted, progress-based goals do not merely remind us of the desired destination; they help create the conditions and environment needed for their achievement. They propel us into forward-focused action and strengthen our resolve to work and win in a world of change.
A Progress Agent’s Six Rules for Goal-Crafting
Rules for Goal-Crafting — 1. Progress-Crafted Goals Are Written and Visualized.
Written goals crystallize thinking, enhance commitment, and help identify the strong reasons that propel the strong actions. Having goals in writing gives them weight and more importance: for whatever reason, not only the conscious but the subconscious mind takes them much more seriously. Written goals are also vital when developing a course of action.
“If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.”
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The mind will not reach for achievement until it has clear objectives. Writing and frequently rereading goals turns on the “Can Do” switch in our brain, and the power to accomplish the goal begins to flow. Goals that are written, read, rewritten, rephrased, and reread get impressed into our subconscious mind. We may not know exactly how to go about achieving our goals, and our conscious mind may not even think them possible, but if we write out our goals and visualize their accomplishment every day, our subconscious mind will work to make them a reality.
Myth alert: The “Yale Study of Goals” is often cited as a testament to the power of written goals. However, most scholars doubt the 1953 “study” ever took place. The so-called study claimed to have found that the 3% of Yale graduates who had written goals at the time of graduation were worth more financially twenty years later than the remaining 97% combined. Too bad the “YSG” is probably an urban legend, because properly written goals are actually vital, and today it is estimated that fewer than 5% of us have properly written goals. Let’s get that percentage up by “getting down with” writing our goals down.
Rules for Goal-Crafting — 2. Progress-Crafted Goals Connect to Personal Progress.
Plainly put, each person involved in a goal’s achievement must believe there is something favorable in it for him or her. We are unlikely to work toward a goal that we can not personalize as positive for us. For a goal to actually become a tool in its own achievement, it must generate genuine excitement when we envision its accomplishment. Why and how does the goal mean Progress for those who must act?
Often, individuals must make an organizational goal their own, as in a new technology rollout, reorganization, or a merger. To get all team members (including ourselves) psyched and committed to the organization’s goal, we need to dig into how the goal’s achievement will benefit all involved (via job security, bonuses, flex time, exciting new projects, raises, promotions, shorter commute, less stress, etc.).
If team members believe that the potential for progress is worth the effort, they will more readily take on challenges in support of the organization’s goals. When highlighting the reasons behind the goal, include the Six Ps of Progress.
Whether the goal is meeting sales quota, buying a new boat, becoming more efficient in customer-service calls, or finishing a financial report, we must find ways to make the goal progress for us in some way. With that personal lodestar ever in sight, we stay committed to reaching the goal. Why we want to achieve a goal is far more important than the goal itself.
Rules for Goal-Crafting — 3. Progress-Crafted Goals Are Stated in Present Tense.
Stating goals in the present tense tells our subconscious mind that we are committed – that the goals will not remain forever stuck in a future tense – as in, I WILL be wealthy. Our mind takes ownership, sees the goal as an actuality (rather than a potentiality) – I AM wealthy – and works toward its realization.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
— Sun Tzu
The subconscious mind chooses a path of least resistance. If we write, “I will be debt-free,” the subconscious mind does not act, because the “will” postpones the goal’s achievement to some indefinite time in the future. When we craft a goal as if it were already achieved, already true, our minds want to make it happen. Examples:
Daily, I am …
I weigh___ with a ___waist.
I know how to…
My family and I are…
Well-crafted goals, stated in the present tense, serve as affirmations. Think of affirmations as personalized powerful ads that you tell yourself over and over again about yourself and your life. Get over any weird thoughts you might have about affirmations – we all use them. We have lived our whole lives making affirmations. Unfortunately, affirmations are often self-critical and self-limiting:
I am fat.
I am a lousy speller.
I am not a good salesman.
I am always tired.
I know nothing about investments.
I’m destined to be poor.
Be careful about everything you say to yourself, or think to yourself, about yourself, because you’ll end up being right. As Luigi Pirandello noted some time ago, “Così è (se vi pare)” – Right you are (if you think you are).
Your brain is a terrible thing to use against yourself. — DL
Rules for Goal-Crafting — 4. Progress-Crafted Goals Are Detailed and Measured.
We are able to measure and track progress only toward goals that are detailed and specific. It is imperative that we craft goals with precise and vivid outcomes so that we can be sure we are progressing and not merely changing.
A vague, general, or conflicted goal produces vague actions and vague results. A specific goal produces specific actions and specific results. The more information we can give our subconscious mind about our intentions – our wants, our goals – the clearer the right next steps become, and the more focused our actions will be. It is fine if the goal takes many words to map out. The key is to crystallize our intentions.
For example, “I have a new job” is generic, not very helpful, and certainly not very inspiring. Most of us could get a new job within a week, if not a day. It probably would not be a job that matched our skills, paid well, or that we even liked, but we could get a job. So be darn sure to specify:
In what industry?
What position and responsibilities?
What pay range?
What benefits, 401K, vacation?
How much travel?
How long commute?
Work from home?
What kind of boss (if any), and coworkers?
Our “specs” can go on and on. Generic goals do little to propel us to action. Yes, it takes time, but it is vital that we craft our goals in as much detail as possible. It is perfectly fine to rewrite the goal, refine it, add to it, mess with it.
Becoming almost ridiculously particular about what we want, and why we want it, helps create the inspiration that propels us to progress toward our goals – instead of focusing attention on the countless other options of how we could invest our time and energy.
Rules for Goal-Crafting — 5. Progress-Crafted Goals Are Positively Worded.
Words hold great power. They have since “the beginning.” Crafted goals should focus our conscious and subconscious minds on future progress, not past problems and limitations. Therefore, we should craft goals that focus on what we want, not on what we don’t.
Any words or phrases that have negative connotations perpetuate frustration, worry, and regret because they remind us of past weaknesses or failures. In turn, this can create a mental block that limits our pattern of thought and behavior. It is helpful to become aware of when we’re using defeatist words like can not, do not, will not, never. We need to rephrase our goal statements, eliminating any negative words and using believable, positive words.
Instead of writing, “I don’t eat junk food,” write, “I am a healthy eater. I eat foods that are good for me.” Then list healthy foods and why healthy choices are good for you.
Instead of writing, “I will not stay up late, oversleep, and be late to work,” write, “I go to bed by 10:30 p.m. each night and am on time for work each day.” Then list five ways in which early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. There are three ways right there. Thanks, Ben Franklin!
Crafting goals from a positive perspective raises our expectations and encourages empowering thought processes. We get our subconscious to work for us, opening up our options and making things seem possible and more doable.
The subconscious mind does not judge or argue; it only carries out instructions. The more positive the imagery we sow in our conscious and subconscious minds, the more positive results we will reap.
Rules for Goal-Crafting — 6. Progress-Crafted Goals Have an Achievement Date.
Achievement dates are vital for measuring and tracking our progress. Many of us waste a great deal of time talking about what we want to do, or to have, or to become, someday. Someday is not a day of the week.*
Without an end date there is no strong reason to take strong action today. Having a specific time frame gives us the push, the prod, the sense of urgency to get moving. Achievement date or procrastinate? Set one and get moving before it’s too late. (Hey, that rhymes.)
Without a date for accomplishment, we have only crafted a wishy-washy wish which floats around. We never get moving because we feel we can start at any time. A realistic time frame helps reel the goal in and make it real. Grounding our goals within a realistic time frame gets the fire burning and sets our subconscious mind in motion.
Many of us have so many goals that we end up pursuing two dozen of them poorly, rather than three or four with laser-like focus and unflagging effort. Establishing achievement dates for our goals helps us decide which ones warrant the majority of today’s time and energy.
Often it turns out that we have underestimated the true time, effort, and knowledge required to accomplish our goals. We run out of patience and passion, or lose sight of the goal’s purpose. Most of our goals can be met if they have realistic achievement dates and we work to stay committed to them.
If we don’t achieve our goal within our time frame, we can always set a new achievement date.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
Craft and commit to progress-based goals.
* Someday Is Not a Day of the Week is the title of an insightful, motivating, and eye-opening children’s book by Denise Brennan-Nelson. I recommend it highly.
An Introduction to Progress-Based Goal-Crafting an excerpt from
by Dean Lindsay
Copyright 2010 — All rights reserved.
About Dean Lindsay:
An authority on harnessing human potential and creating authentic business growth, Dean Lindsay is an engaging and highly sought-after business consultant and speaker. He is an active member of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy and the American Society of Training and Development.
Dean Lindsay sees an important connection between sales, motivation, solid customer care and leadership. All are achieved by effectively positioning ideas, recommendations, solutions, products, services – even ourselves – as PROGRESS in minds of those we wish to inspire to action. All must be positioned as Progress and NOT Change. It is natural to resist change but we embrace PROGRESS. All progress is change but not all change is PROGRESS.
Dean is a featured contributor to Executive Travel, Sales and Service Excellence and the American Management Association’s Moving Ahead magazine as well as the nationally distributed audio publication Selling Power Live. He has been spotlighted as an Outstanding Speaker by the International Association of Speakers Bureaus and recognized as a ‘Sales-and-Networking Guru’ by the Dallas Business Journal.
Dean has served as Guest Lecturer to International Customer Management Institute as well as both the UCLA and University of Dallas MBA programs. He is a Cum laude graduate of the University of North Texas and serves on the Executive Advisory Board for UNT’s Department of Marketing and Logistics and the Board of Directors of the UNT Alumni Association. Dean’s first book, Cracking the Networking CODE: 4 Steps to Priceless Business Relationships is Recommended Reading by United Professional Sales Association and Profit magazine. Click here to watch Dean in Action.