“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

You can say what you want about Michael Phelps being born to swim, but he wouldn’t be breaking records if he wasn’t aiming for the gold. Do you know that when he was a kid his teachers told him that he would never be able to focus on anything? It sounds crazy considering that he’s the only athlete to win 8 gold medals in his sport and that he’s set 5 world records. One of the secrets to his amazing achievements is that he keeps a list of all the races he wants to enter, with goal times, on his nightstand. He sees it every night before he goes to bed and every morning when he wakes up. He’s set his sights on his target and to say that he isn’t focused is crazy. You don’t get to be a world champion without goals.

Think about it, have you ever heard of a marathon that didn’t have a finish line? Me neither. How would you know who won without that marker at the end? What about sports? Baseball has 9 innings and ice hockey has 3 periods. Without those the teams can play forever trying to one up each other. Stores have business hours indicating when they’re open and when they’re closed. And businesses have profit targets that they aim for, otherwise they would never know if they should stay in business or not. The same goes for things that you want. How would you know that you’ve achieved success without some sort of definitive mark telling you that you’ve arrived?

One of the biggest reasons that people don’t succeed is because they never define what success means to them in the first place. How can you know if you’re successful if don’t have a plan? One of the
scariest things to overcome when deciding to make a change in your life is the fear of setting goals. Many of my clients get stuck in this process because of fear. Fear of setting the goal and then the possibility of not reaching it. People interpret that as failure and no one wants to feel like a failure, so it’s easier to just not set the goal in the first place, right? Wrong! Without setting the goal you’re just like a hamster in a wheel. Always spinning to nowhere. If you have nothing to measure your success than there’s never anything to tell you when you’re done. And if you never know when you’re done than everything begins to feel like such a chore and you’re forever beating yourself up for not having gotten the body that you want or the life you want to live.

But there’s one more reason why goals are so important. Knowing that there is an end point makes the struggle to get there so much more manageable.

Goals shouldn’t be feared they should be embraced, because by setting them you actually make your life easier by having something to aim for. If you just keep your eyes on the finish line then no amount of struggling will equal failure, because you’ll keep at it until you get there. There isn’t one successful person out there that doesn’t have goals. Do you think Oprah is getting her own cable network because she just dabbled a little bit here and a little bit there? No way! She definitely had a clear path that she was going down in order to become the megastar that she is. I promise that this is where your success begins.

A good goal is one that is definable and realistic, such as “I want to be able to run a 5k by June”. I’ve stated what I want to do (run), I’ve stated a distance to aim for (5k), I’ve given myself and end date (June), and I’ve made it a realistic goal by giving myself 6 months. By defining the terms I know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve it, and by giving myself 6 months to get there I make it attainable and not too pressure filled. Along the way I may set mini goals (baby steps) in order to help me get there, such as starting with walk/run intervals for the first month and working my way up to running consistently for a full 5k. That way everything becomes way more manageable and I hit mini successes along the way to my larger success. It’s contagious.

Try it. Set a goal for today, something that you’ve been putting off, and see how great you feel once you do it.