Last Updated Sep 15, 2008 6:23 PM EDT
One of the key differentiators: People who are serious about reaching their goals are also serious about goal-setting. In other words, they don't just say "I'd like to be a VP someday"; they actually get that goal on paper and figure out a plan for how to get there.
Here are some key steps you can follow to set better -- and more attainable -- goals.
- Decide what it is you really want, and aim high. Don't settle for what you think you can realistically achieve; choose a goal that you truly desire, something that ignites your passion. And don't discount childhood dreams. In Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, he urges listeners to both achieve those dreams and enable the dreams of others. It's great advice.
- Keep it realistic. This doesn't mean "easy to do"; it means doable. If you are 45 years old, you will never play starting quarterback for an NFL team no matter how hard you work. But heading up the marketing department of an NFL team? That's within the realm of possibility.
- Write it down. A goal that's not recorded is just a wish. By writing down your goal, you make it concrete. And by looking at that written goal often, even daily, you keep it present in your mind -- which can help you stick to your actions to support it.
- Frame your goal as a positive aim, and record it in detail. Don't just write "I'd like to leave my dead-end job." Instead, write something like, "I will work as a financial manager for a Fortune 500 company, make six figures, and live in New York City."
- Think like an ant. Ants are determined; if you put a barrier in their path, they go under, over, or around it. Ants expect more from themselves than should be possible; just watch an ant hoist a stick 20 times its size. And they remain focused on what they're doing until they succeed; when ants are working, they don't arbitrarily stop or get distracted.