EFFECTIVE GOAL-SETTING: CONVERTING BARRIERS INTO OPPORTUNITIES

                                          “Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
                                                        Cervantes (Don Quixote)
<?xml:namespace prefix = u1 /> Have you ever noticed that some people are consistently able to achieve success in their endeavors-- no matter what they try-- while others seem to believe that their goals are unattainable? To make matters worse, in some cases, those who fall short of their goals actually spend inordinate amounts of time in pursuit of success. But, alas, feeling like they are running in place, they become weary, disillusioned and give up.
Rather than trying to "reach the unreachable stars", the issue becomes one of setting goals that can be successfully attained. This involves spending time formulating clear, concise goals that involve conquering a variety of potential barriers. Often, we begin with a wish-- a vague emotion-based idea about how we would like to be different. Although this first-step commitment is fundamental to the formulation of an effective goal, it is far too vague to directly suggest actions leading to its attainment. Unfortunately, many individuals stop forumlating here and begin working. "A man with moonlight in his hand has nothing there at all..." Clearly formulating the structure of a goal is fundamental to it's achievement.
One way this is accomplished is through the unconscious processing of information you gather throughout the day-- newspapers, conversations with peers and so forth. Gradually, you become aware of new sources of information that create opportunities for you to clarify an initially vague goal. When considering a goal, it's not uncommon to encounter one or more internal barriers that prevent it's clear formulation.
Until we resolve these obstacles, all the good intentions, plans and motivational strategies may amount to wasted effort and disillusionment. Learn to convert barriers into opportunities! Some examples will suffice:
Barrier 1- Negative messages. Too often we carry the negative self-concepts we learned as children into adulthood. They become the fundamental principles underlying our behavior. For example, if you believe your are incompetent, incapable, clumsy, undeserving of success, formulating a clear, effective goal becomes difficult. Imagine believing that you could be successful-- see yourself creating a plan and working toward its accomplishment. Then step into the scenario and begin working!
Barrier 2- Peace-keeping. Sometimes it's easier to simply placate another person's expectations and work toward his or her goal instead of our own. In this instance, we face two likely outcomes: Either we fail to sustain the motivation needed to reach a defined goal, or we exhaust ourselves work- ing to achieve that goal and then feel trapped and miserable. Begin by asking yourself, "Do I truly want this goal or am I placating someone else?" And, "What would be the worst thing that could happen if I declined?" Then imagine being someone else advising you to set a goal that is paramount in your mind. Consider that an opportunity to please yourself!
Barrier 3- Rigidity in place of flexibility. The process of attaining a well-defined goal often involves some modification of that goal along the way. This is because as you move toward it's completion, interests and priorities may change. And in order to obtain a successful outcome that is congruent with any changes, it is important to remain flexible enough to re-evaluate a goal during the achievement process. This barrier is often encountered when one attempts to plan too far into the future. For example, some employers in designing employee objectives advise, "Decide where you would like to be five (or more) years from now." Multiyear plans may not allow room for personal change. A plan made by a twenty five year- old will reflect a twenty five year-old's interests and concerns-- which are likely to be different when that individual reaches forty. Having hurdled the barriers that prevent successful goal formulation, a most effective way to reach your goals is to place them in writing. There is some evidence to suggest that the act of writing personal and career goals is among the most useful of all techniques leading to their successful attainment. In this format they can easily be reviewed and revised as needed.