Self Improvement Non-Fiction posted April 8, 2011


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Essay on Goals

by Cogitator

For this work, a goal is something one wants to achieve.

Some time ago I developed a class for salespeople called Goal Achievement Process, or GAP. The definition I introduce in that class is "A goal is something we want that we think we do not have OR something we have that we do not want."

I did not get into professional sales until age 31. Prior to that, I worked in Systems Analysis for more than twelve years. The difference between communication in the nerd world and communication in interpersonal relationships is huge. A machine does not give us feedback unless we make mistakes in programming it. People do give feedback and I certainly did not understand why I was getting the feedback I was getting at the beginning. I realized that I may have been a fair-haired hero in the computer industry, but I was a red-haired stepchild in sales. I was terrified, humbled, and so afraid of failure that I sought help.

Like many other newbies in sales, I began my education with Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich." "Catchy title", I thought. Hill has some excellent exercises about prioritization on life goals in this work. W. Clement Stone's "The Master Key to Riches" was next, along with Maxwell Maltz' "Psychocybernetics," probably the precursor of most good sales training courses. These set the foundation for my approach to goal achievement. These reads proved to me that I lacked understanding of my own makeup. I realized that I could know others only as well as I knew myself. I set about trying to debug myself into a new attitude.

The most influential book I read after this realization is "The Greatest Salesman in the World" by Og Mandino. It describes ten scrolls to reshape attitude, the first being "I will face this day with love in my heart" and the second "I will persist until I succeed." I actually memorized the passages to repeat them to myself while traveling from one appointment to another.

We all have goals in mind at all times. In Buddhist thought, we can hold 87 goals in the mind at one time. I haven't taken the time to check mine in a while. I remember watching Lou Holtz at a motivational talk relating how he and his wife sat down at a table prior to his appointment at Notre Dame. They came up with 87 goals to achieve before they would be satisfied. Their "bucket list." That's good enough for me.

It is important to know that, once a goal is achieved, it will get replaced by a new one. That's the where and when we can use to create a better life for ourselves by opting in a greater goal. In this life, most people will begin goal setting with money and/or material gain in mind. It is only when we realize the greater spiritual values provide real success that we eventually reach it.

Goals are prioritized by value, or meaning. Evaluation of what we consider important is governed by our belief and value systems. If we place more importance on physical representations and material possessions, it isn't until we admit that no one owns anything that we can plan the really important goals. Enlightened life is created from the truth, not from greed or competition. However, we are still in human form and made social animals. Friendly competition quite often brings out best efforts which can improve self-worth. Hopefully, not the prideful kind.

In Hill's book, we are directed to separate our goals into three time frames. These are six months (short term) two or three years (midterm) and lifetime (long term.) The key statement that struck a chord with me is that, if we knew we would die in six months, and choose to do anything different than what we are doing today, we are working on the wrong goals. Our goals need to be reprioritized. Consider the number of miserable people who would drastically alter their actions upon this understanding and you find the reason for all the pain we cause ourselves. We are not doing what we were born to do. We were born acorns but striving to become sequoias.

All life is constantly occupied acting on its most important goal. Whether trees, bees, hyenas or flowers, all are expressing their most urgent need. The qualifying factors within their actions are: at this time, in this place and under these circumstances. Since it is always here and now, when we are occupied with any goal, we can only affect our circumstances. The achiever works solely with the circumstances at hand. With goal in mind, the achiever will adapt or create the circumstances necessary to reach the goal. This is done with focus, skill and adaptability, among others.

If we take the time to observe those around us, we soon know that their behavior is telling us what is important to them. Only humans lie, but actions do not. An action is a result of a decision, regardless of what excuse someone may offer. All whom we encounter are occupied in achieving their most important goal in this here and now, under the circumstances. So are we.

We achieve many goals throughout our waking day. Most are trivial and customary and achieved by routines, or habits. We have routines like prepare for work, transport to the place of business, perform tasks, go to lunch, etc. Many people will prepare a "To Do" list to help guide them through their day. For the most part, these are executed with little or no creative thinking. Becoming aware of these processes allows us to address other, more meaningful goals. Awareness is the first step to controlling our actions. It is extremely important to understand that these goals are achieved because we imagine them first. All goals are imagined before they can come true.

Having a goal produces a problem. A problem is the difference between what we think we have compared to what we think we want. We all create our own problems by imagining a goal. That is why I developed the GAP class. The solution is found when we devise a method that will fulfill the goal. Since we think we do not have the imagined goal, it must mean that we need to learn. That sets our thinking process to work. We need to take inventory of what we think we have and try to identify the missing steps and elements needed for achievement.

The first step is to know WHY we feel we need this goal. Reason being, we need to know if this goal is our own or being imposed upon us by some external source. "But Mom, all the girls are wearing this now!" Many people without creative goals are perfectly happy working on someone else's goals, and they are certainly not to be judged for that attitude. As animals, we are imitative and have a strong herd instinct. We certainly are not working on our goals when we mindlessly perform tasks on others' goals.

We are always in a State of Being in the Process of Becoming. Our being is continually seeking balance when setting goals and "comes to be" a different state by executing a process. This goal achievement process can only be executed in the Here and Now. We cannot work in this process yesterday or tomorrow. Since it is always here and now, we have already achieved the goal in our minds when we commit our state of being to realize the process.

Dr. Wayne Dyer's Law of Intention addresses this quite well. When we commit to achievement, we will attract all the necessary elements and pieces to finish the task. That is what the Law of Attraction means. The Law of Balance and Sequence is applied against the intent to attract support for the intended goal. Commitment must be strict and goals must be very well defined in our imagination for the process to take hold.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Groundhog Day. It illustrates these thoughts to a very high degree. In case you haven't seen it, it depicts Bill Murray as a crusty, grumbling malcontent of a weatherman who resents being sent to record the annual event. He feels he is far above this kind of work.
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In the movie, actor Bill Murray plays Phil, an arrogant, Scroogelike weather forecaster who spends the night in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is to do a broadcast the next day about the annual ritual of the coming out of the groundhog. He wakes up the next morning, does his story and is annoyed to discover that he is trapped in Punxsutawney for a second night because of a snowstorm that comes in after the groundhog ceremony.

When he wakes up in his guest house room the next morning, lo and behold, it is the morning of the day before all over again. Everything that happened to him the previous day -- the man trying to start a conversation at the top of the stairs; the old high school acquaintance recognizing him on the street, the ritual of groundhog day -- it all happens again.

And, once again, due to inclement weather, he is forced to spend the night. When he wakes up the next morning, it is the same day as yesterday and the day before, with the same oncoming snowstorm keeping him stuck in town and the same events repeating themselves like a broken record.

This movie is an example to me, not simply as a moral play, but as a way to see ourselves in achieving any goal. We only get one day at a time and each is the opportunity to avoid a known mistake. If we do not learn from our "mis-takes," we are going to relive them.

Most people are too impatient to find the right path to a goal and have to start over. Bill Murray's character had eternity to find truth and love. If we knew we had eternity to achieve any goal we imagine, we would not stress ourselves, simply learn each day. This is the best mental attitude you can possess.

A good way to start getting on the path to our own development is to follow Napoleon Hill's advice. Writing our current goal inventory down in short, medium and long time frames will help sift through what is truly important and what is not. Once each list is done, we can examine them one at a time and start eliminating. Least important one, second least important, etc, until we only have three left. These are the nine goals we can focus on immediately.

Then, we take each goal and seek to define it in its most vivid detail. At this time, perhaps a spouse, friend or associate can be used as a sounding board to gain further insight and perhaps a different value. Once the goal is clear, commit. The goal then has to be anchored in time. If we do not assign a completion time, it will not happen. It will stay in the ether until it fades away or is replaced by a different goal.

When we are young and naive, we are led to believe money brings happiness, not knowing it is happiness that brings money. If we try to kid ourselves about material goals, false values, etc, or try to live life according to others' wishes, failure looms.

This goal list should be revisited often, especially after achievement. Our experiences will steer us towards new and more noble goals as we proceed through our life. My essay on Thinking intends to help this effort.



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