Article: Goals & SuccessLessons learned from 25 years of coaching and consulting with Americans at work and home.
By Rodney Brim, Ph.D.
While working with individuals in companies ranging from SOHO (single office home office) to international conglomerates, I have found several consistent themes that you may take note of and use for your own advantage in your workplace or business.
They wrote down and used goals
- By the time they are 40, most Americans operate with a gap the size of the Grand Canyon between their aspirations and achievements. After 20 years in the workplace, they regularly give up on their dreams and goals, start settling and looking for a place to stay employed.
They repeatedly use familiar but obsolete tools that are consistently fault proven in and out of business:
- Using lists to manage growing amounts of data.
- Using personal commitment to manage long term change and improvement.
- Using working hard as the stepping stone or key value leading to success.
All these tools have one thing in common. They promise more than they can deliver, and as a result expose their users to repeated setbacks, start and stops, and the frustration of sudden bursts of energy followed by "falling off the wagon".
A 20-year follow-up study of college graduates revealed a startling discovery about success. Three percent (3%) of the people acquired or accounted for ninety-seven percent (97%) of the group's total net worth... and they all used one tool in common!
- No, it wasn't tracking every detail with longer and longer lists.
- No, it wasn't stoking up the fires of determination and commitment and giving it one more try than their peers.
- No, it wasn't working longer and harder than anyone else.
It turns out that goals help solve the information management problem; the one with which lists can never keep up. Goals create a natural organization and mental association for details that exceed what lists (best used for groceries and packing) can do when applied to the magnitude of to-dos and details challenging the worker to both remember and respond.
It is found that writing down goals and recording our progress towards them is a tremendous focus aid. It directs and brings a consistency to our efforts that supercede what personal commitment can do, given its wavering levels of intensity. It inhibits the natural tendency to drift into fire fighting when upsets occur, the phone rings, and the schedule goes out the window.
We also found that goals and visibility on the status of goals strongly connect effort with outcome. It's no longer "Are you working hard?" but "Are you doing what works?" The desire for a specific outcome, challenges us to not only define our goals, but figure out a way to measure our progress and know if we are on the right track. The focus and progress notes involved in goal management are a remarkably powerful lever for success that far outstrips our ability to muscle that next objective into existence. It challenges us to succeed by adapting, to change gears when the plan isn't working.
My recommendations to you, in your business and at your office, free of all those expensive consulting fees:
Rodney Brim, a psychologist and executive coach for 25 years, is now the CEO of Performance Solutions Technology, owner of ManagePro software.
- Start using goals today. Write them down, track your progress toward them and consistently ask yourself, "Is what I am doing moving me closer to my goals?" Regularly respond to the answer.
- Secondly, take a look at ManagePro as a goal based business software tool. It leverages the power of goals and shared information that directly supports individual and group success.
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