Whatever it is that you’re looking for —money, health, fitness, sex, happiness, security, employment, religion, fame, more sales— is just around the corner. But, without a periscope, you’ll never see it.  And that’s a good thing because to get where you want to go, you need to stop looking at “the where” and start focusing on “the getting.”

Getting where you want to go doesn’t happen just because it’s something you want. Desire is indeed critical to success, but achievement requires proper goal-setting and hard work as well.

Many people who fail in life may very well be extremely hard workers. It’s very hard work to shovel in circles, no matter what you’re shoveling. More often than not, failure to achieve comes from misdirected or circular goal-setting.

Most people don’t set goals because they’re afraid of not achieving them. They set dates to reach their goals and start Xing days off the calendar. They’re focused on the wrong thing: the finish line.

Two problems: 1) Energy needs to be focused on each present “here and now” step being taken as it’s being taken in the process of GETTING to the finish line, and 2) Having a due date or deadline is only 25% of effective goal-setting.

A legitimate goal must meet all four of these criteria:

  • Specific… “Increasing sales” is not specific. Assign dollars or units or percentages to the pursuit.
  • Realistic… “Turning company sales around” in 30 days or producing major overnight purchase orders may not be realistic. Question yourself about this.
  • Flexible… Treating the desired result of your efforts like it was etched into concrete eliminates necessary flexibility . . . flexibility must be present at all times for the process as well as for the final tally and completion date.
  • Have a deadline… Not having a definite due date undermines the entire goal-setting process, and is likely to flat-out prevent success all by itself.

Anything else that fails to meet all four of these is merely a wish. Hoping and wishing don’t make things happen. Proof of the pudding is that it doesn’t take much searching to find people who choose to rely on hoping and wishing. They’re the ones going nowhere in life; they live in fantasyland!

Action makes things happen. Some action is almost always better than no action. And action is your choice.

Oh, by the way, the four criteria? Specific, flexible, realistic, and due-dated? These ingredients, and this approach, are not limited to business and social change applications. They work equally well for achieving personal, family, and life goals as well.

Try it. Stick to it. Adjust it as needed and enjoy the journey. It’s all a matter of choice—your choice. And it works if you do!

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