Growing up as a child and adolescent, I really had only a couple of main goals that I worked to achieve: get straight A grades and read as many books as I could in the time I had available.
For most of the other things I did, it was pretty simple. Do what my parents told me to do.
I was in my mid 20s before I realized that I had set and reached many other goals in my life, but had never thought of them as part of a time-tested strategy to accomplish what I wanted to do.
If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
-- Zig Ziglar
I'm not exactly sure when I first encountered Zig Ziglar, but two of the things that struck me the first time I listened to his audio presentation of Goals was this: I liked him and his folksy, easy-going, and humorous style. And, I learned a lot of valuable information and techniques from him.
That lecture had a profound effect on me and it gave me more tools to accomplish the things I've wanted.
By understanding the importance of goals and the role they play in helping me act on my dreams, I was highly motivated to learn to do it well -- goal setting, that is. (I still had to work hard to learn how to be a good computer consultant, educator, programmer, systems analyst, and all the other technical skills, but the techniques I learned from Zig helped me to break all these complicated things down into workable step-by-step plans.)
I didn't accomplish all of that overnight, either. It just doesn't work that way. I spent dozens of sleepless years mastering the technical skills that made people want to pay me to help them. It took decades.
But each part of the plan was a series of simpler, less-ambitious steps that were designed to lead to where I wanted to be in another year or so.
I have a tradition that I've followed over the last three decades that I do on, or near, my birthday. I re-read Think and Grow Rich, brush up on what I learned about setting goals from Zig Ziglar, and then I plan what I'm going to do during my next trip around the sun. That's right. I decide who I want to be a year from now and I set the goals and make the plans I'll follow to become that person. Along the way, I accomplish the tasks that lead to my desired outcome.
Now, this may sound like it's a smooth process of constant improvement and straightforward progress, but that's not the way life works. There are always obstacles in our paths, setbacks due to economics and health, distractions from new things that lure us away from our plans, and there are always plenty of people and events to discourage us and make us want to give up.
Without goals and a plan for how to achieve them, those obstacles may throw us off track so completely that we just give up.
I've found, however, that even with the biggest obstacles that may take years to overcome, a good set of goals, a good plan to achieve them, and a good to-do list of the tasks that need to be done will eventually help me to get back on track to achieve the dreams I thought of months or even years before.
Do you set goals for your life? Do you have a plan to achieve them?
Most people don't. But, the most successful people I know do have goals and plans, and they are important in achieving the levels of success they want in life.
It's easy to drift along like a boat without a rudder. You know the phrase that refers to being up a creek without a paddle, don't you?
Well goals and plans are the paddles (or sails or motor) that will get you back on course and back to making progress to your destination.
Enough from me. Let's hear what Zig has to say about Goals.
First, here are three introductory videos that Nightingale Conant has provided free on YouTube.
I've come to prefer the video format, because I get to both hear and see him, but I first learned the importance of goal setting by listening to cassette recordings a long time ago.
In fact, I've listened to those tapes from Zig many times while stuck in rush hour traffic in Atlanta and Phoenix. It was a beneficial use of what could have been wasted time; I was learning something while I was stuck there.
When I first bought the tapes of this lecture, I had to scrimp and save for weeks to be able to send off for them. It was an expensive investment in what I hoped would be my future. I was sorely tempted to spend the money on food or entertainment, but I resisted those urges.
That investment years ago has been worth thousands of dollars to me over the years. Although I thought it was very expensive at the time, I recognize from the vantage point of hindsight that it was one of the best things I ever bought.
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