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The Secret to Setting Goals by Julie Austin

DiversityBusiness.com Article/- You see it in every movie. The protagonist and the antagonist each have goals. The fact that they both want different goals creates the dramatic tension in the movie. Without dramatic tension the audience would be falling asleep in their popcorn. Both have strong motivation to achieve something, even as obstacles are constantly thrown in their direction. Itís the same in real life. Setting goals gives us the motivation to keep going despite all of the obstacles that are placed in our way.

Julie HeadshotAsk any successful person about their goals and they can probably rattle them off without hesitation. I would be willing to bet that they have a long list, many of which have been checked off. People who have ambition and drive will set goals to keep themselves on track. They check them off, set more, and will never run out of goals. Setting goals gives us a sense of purpose that keeps us moving forward. In fact, a study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that setting goals and having a sense of purpose in life increased longevity in the elderly. If you keep setting more goals, youíll feel compelled to get them all done. How many times have you heard about someone that wanted to stick around long enough to see a project through to the end? Or wanted to see the grandchild they helped tutor graduate from college? Setting goals gives you constant motivation.

Goals mean different things to different people and they are always in flux. But the one common denominator for everyone is that you have to know what you want and where youíre going if you ever want to achieve your goals in life. Think of it as a roadmap. If you are traveling across town, you have an idea how long it will take to get there. Therefore you can judge distance by landmarks. ďIf Iím on the bridge I should be halfway there.Ē Itís the same with setting goals. You should have an idea about where youíre going and how long it will take to get there. Itís a good way to keep you on track.

First of all, you need to ask yourself what you want. That sounds so simple I can almost hear a collective ďduh!Ē. But it constantly shocks me when I ask people that question and they give me a blank stare. Iím one of those people that started planning my whole life by the time I was ten. Of course, life doesnít always turn out the way you envision, no matter how meticulous your plan. But Iíll get to that later.

In figuring out what you want, divide it into business and personal. Whatís more valuable to you, freedom, family, money, career, fame or a combination of those? Remember, the order can change over time and nothing is set in stone. Rarely is the road we travel a straight path that gets us to exactly where we want to go. How many people with college degrees in a particular subject drop them for a totally different career? And how many people with college degrees end up working at Starbucks, even if itís just temporary?

Make sure your goals are attainable. If youíre in your fifties and suddenly realize you want to become a famous ballerina, your odds are incredibly small. (I searched everywhere to find a famous ballerina that started at the age of fifty, but couldnít find one.) Itís better to pick goals that you know you can achieve. Chasing after unattainable goals will eventually erode your confidence and ambition once you figure out theyíre probably never going to happen. People tend to lose faith when they put time and energy into something that doesnít have any kind of payoff. Achieving a small goal will give you the courage and enthusiasm to keep going. Itís like winning a small amount of money in the lottery. If you can win ten dollars, you can win ten million. That doesnít mean your goals shouldnít be challenging and interesting. They should. Just make sure theyíre reachable.

Prioritize your goals. Start by looking way into the future and figuring out where you want to be in twenty years, ten years, five years. Then you can break it down into smaller goals with the most important ones first. This also makes it easier because the most pressing ones will tend to get your undivided attention.

Tell other people about your goals. This should be people that encourage you and will give you honest feedback. Also, they should be people that will hold your feet to the fire and push you to keep going. Once you put your goals out there youíll start to feel obligated to get them done. The more people you tell, the more youíll be pushed to accomplish your goals.

Set a timeline for reaching each goal and stick to it. Write out a ďto doĒ list and check off each one as you finish them. Itís easier to accomplish goals in a bite-sized list, and writing them down on paper lets you track your progress and make adjustments. Figure out how much time each goal will take and allow ample time to get them done. Make sure you do something every day to chip away at your goals. Before you know it you will be halfway through the list. And itís important to celebrate the little successes. Many successful people say that itís the climb up that they remember most, not actually getting to the top. Like a business ownerís first big sale or the first time a recording artist hears their song on the radio.

Use examples of people who have achieved what you want to accomplish. Find out how they did it and how long it took. Remember the scene from ďThe Pursuit of HappynessĒ when Will Smithís character, Chris Gardner, sees a guy parking a nice car and he asks him what he does for a living? When he tells him that you donít have to have a college degree, you just have to be good with numbers and people, it gives Chris hope that he too could someday be driving a nice car and making a good living. Itís easier to keep up the faith when you know that it can be done and has been done by others.

This leads me to the most important point, and thatís visualization. You canít accomplish what you canít imagine and dream is possible. If you donít have a clear idea in your head about what you want to achieve, how can you accomplish it? If you donít truly believe in the end result, how can you ever convince others that you can do it? I would bet that most actors have visualized standing on a stage accepting an Academy award. Youíre goals donít have to be that lofty, but setting realistic ones that you know you can fulfill and then achieving them gives you the motivation to set more and keep going. Like the protagonist in a movie, youíre going to be met with obstacles along the way. But if you set goals and keep your eye on the prize you will be able to turn dreams into reality.

Julie Austin is an inventor/entrepreneur with a product called swiggies, wrist water bottles for adults and kids. They were a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are sold around the world. She speaks on the topics of creativity and innovation, helping businesses and individuals generate ideas for competitive advantage. www.creativeinnovationgroup.com

Julie Austin | 11301 Olympic Blvd. #503 | Los Angeles, CA 90064 | 310-444-7788 | www.creativeinnovationgroup.com |

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