I called a friend the other day and told him I have something that can transform his business tenfold. He asked the cost and I told him it’s free for him. Excited, he promised me that if it could help him even triple his business this year and get out of debts, he will surprise me.

So when we met that same evening, instead, I surprised him. I told him what he already knew. But like most of us, he does not apply what he knows. I told him to set clear goals, write them down and commit to pursuing them. This is simply the secret of success that majority of us are deeply aware of.

Several studies conducted over different times and places have proven beyond doubt the immeasurable benefits of writing down goals. Yet despite this awareness and people’s desire to succeed, only 3 percent of adults have clear, written, specific, measurable, time-bound goals.

This is truly a mystery.

It has been established that on average people with clear written goals accomplish ten times as much as people with no goals at all.

Psychologists and thought leaders have posited several explanations why most people don’t involve themselves with the act of writing down goals. Let’s look at three of them.

One reason is the mentality that “I know what I want” and so whether it is written or not, it does not matter. It does. Writing them down helps one to sift goals from so many desires and ideas that crowd our minds at any moment.

Without a written point of reference, you will not know precisely what you are pursuing and when you are drifting away.

In avionics, it is said that a plane is off course most of the time. Through most of the journey, the pilot is on continual course corrections to ensure the plane arrives on time, and more often than not, it does.

When you have razor-sharp goals, you have to continually keep changing and maneuvering to stay on course.

The third reason is previous disappointment. Failure to set the right goals and pursue them is disappointing.

The key to ensuring goals work is to focus on actions that lead to the accomplishment of the goal rather than the goal itself. For example, if your goal is to get out of debts by the end of the year, you don’t focus on debts. Rather, you come up with actions that when done well, will ultimately increase your income and make you debt free. These may include improving your customer service, training your sales staff, producing what customers need, increasing efficiency, as well as eliminating costs that don’t add value.


This article was first published in The Business Daily on March 12, 2019.

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