GOAL SETTING: The Building Blocks of Success

A man once wrote to Abraham Lincoln, saying that he wanted to be a lawyer. Mr. Lincoln replied to him: “ If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, then your work is more than 90% done.” This response is understandable, coming from a man who, as a boy, used to walk 50 miles from his log cabin to borrow a book, & back again to return it: a journey of 8 days.

Lincoln was a great man, but such greatness can belong to ordinary people in their everyday lives, as well.

What makes a man so resolute? Not his desires or wants alone. It’s his ability to set goals for himself & to achieve them.

Goals are born out of dreams. There’s a story about two men who went to Disneyland; one man remarked, “ If Walt Disney were alive to see this place, he would be proud of it!” To which the second replied, “ He did see this place years ago…it was his vision, which is now a reality.”

Dreams that become goals are not idle daydreams; they are visions that compel action, which motivate people to achieve. Without a vision, you will not know where you are heading, or where you want to go.

The first step to achieving anything is to set one’s goals. Goals are what you want, & they determine what you will get. Setting a goal is important because life without a goal is just like cricket without wicket.

Where you see yourself 10 years from now is your vision; when you decide to work towards making it come true, it becomes your goal. And achieving it is your success.

Of course, again, it is not enough to just set your goals; it is necessary to focus all your resources in the right direction to reach them.

For this, one must decide on the path you will take, which will lead to the goal. This may sound easy, but in reality, it is a major challenge, as sometimes many paths seem to lead to the same direction, or worse still, there may be no paths at all in sight.  For instance, you can get to CP from GK-I by bus, or autorickshaw, or a taxi. You have many options but the choice of vehicle will depend entirely on you.

But suppose you want to go to California from GK-I, then can you consider a bus or a taxi? No, you can’t, but does that mean you give up your plan of going to California? This is where your determination will count: if you really want to make it, come what may, you will take a flight to your destination.

If the distance between you and your goal is too large, then only your will & motivation can get you there. Most people try to decrease the distance by lowering their standard, compromising on their goal, i.e. giving up. But the successful man will bridge this distance by striving to get closer to his ultimate aim.

This is exactly what the famous publisher, Shekhar Malhotra did: when wholesalers & booksellers were refusing to stock the books he published, because their demand was low & profits were negligible, he had the wisdom not to give up. He started circulating newsletters about the books, which aroused the readers’ interest in them, & soon the sales of the books shot up manifold.

Noted writer Shiv Khera maintains that “winners don’t do different things, they do things differently”. But Malhotra devised a way, which was not only different, but he also did it differently: he went beyond just “winning”; he was successful, because he innovated.

To succeed, it is important to change one’s attitude to match the circumstances, like the rats in “Who Moved My Cheese?” Most people resist change; they would rather alter the “end” than change the “means”.

But, one may ask, what if one’s goal is too far away, & the only way of reaching them is beyond your grasp?

A giant leap is not the only way to bridge a gap; inching closer bit by bit will also work, as long as you meet your target.

So, if you can’t afford that flight to California, you can work as a cabin boy on a ship that’s headed for the USA, get off at the port, & then hitch-hike all the way to your dream: it might take longer, but you’ll certainly get there!

The old proverb “Many a little makes a mickle” is best applied to goal setting.

Achieving your goal is a lot like eating a full, roasted elephant: you have to cut it up into smaller parts!

Dividing your ultimate goal into smaller “sub-goals” will make it easier to reach, just like it’s easier to solve those enormous algebraic equations when you work them out in parts.

A good way to work towards one’s goal is to set some deadlines for oneself: if you need to meet a sales target, for example, then you could set smaller weekly targets to be met, rather than aiming at the annual figure at one go. Students preparing for examinations are able to complete a vast syllabus only if they aim to finish a few chapters per week, a few topics per day, so that they are not burdened by the size of the whole mass of work.

Because the sub-goal is smaller & more realistic, it is easier to motivate oneself to work for it.

But even such effective strategies will not work if one lacks the two crucial elements of success: determination & perseverance. A battle cannot be won with clever stratagem alone; the armoury is just as vital!

And no weapon is as strong as grit & hard work. Like Abe Lincoln believed, if there’s a fire in your belly, then your battle is as good as won.

When I was 9 years old, I wanted a bike; when my father refused to buy me one, I decided to buy one for myself, & started to save up my daily allowance of 25 paise, denying myself the little treats that a child usually craves for. It took me almost two years of saving up those coins, but in the end, I bought myself my dream bike. My self-control & steadfast will finally brought me my reward. And my present success, too, is a result of my belief, that if one perseveres long & hard enough, he can attain any goal, no matter how long it takes, or how difficult it may seem.

Never underestimate the will power; it can overcome even death.

“Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul” relates the inspiring true story of a man who defied fate with the power of love. He had met his wife at the age of 9, & ever since, had loved her more than anything else in the world; so, when he was diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of 64, with barely 6 months to live, he resolved that he would not die while his wife still lived. And he lived to be 81, & died the day after his wife passed away, after cheating death for 17 years.

This immense power can fuel a man to accomplish anything, if he will only believe in himself.

We cannot be motivated by other people; we can only be inspired by others to motivate ourselves, to awaken our will, & strengthen our resolve.

When we give up on something, we actually give up on ourselves, because we deny ourselves a chance to fulfil the remarkable potential we all have to attain the so-called unattainable.

Indeed, history books abound with accounts of legendary men & women who have achieved more in one year than many of us do in a lifetime; they all have one trait in common: THEY NEVER GAVE UP.

And we can all learn from them, & use their wisdom in our lives as well.

Inspiration does not come from the use of many words, which Sir Winston Churchill proved, when he was invited to give an inspiring speech to the students of the University of Oxford. He put aside his trademark hat, cane, & cigar, approached the podium, & said, before returning to his seat: “ Never give up, never give up”.



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