Use Goals To Help You Grow Financially and Professionally
Every bit of human progress — our inventions big and little, our medical discoveries, our engineering triumphs, our business successes — were first visualized before they became realities. Babymoons circle the earth, not because of accidental discoveries but because scientists set “conquer space” as a goal.
A goal is an objective, a purpose. A goal is more than a dream; it’s a dream being acted upon. A goal is more than a hazy “Oh, I wish I could.” A goal is a clear “This is what I’m working toward.”
Nothing happens, no forward steps are taken until a goal is established. Without goals individuals just wander through life. They stumble along, never knowing where they are going, so they never get anywhere.
Goals are as essential to success as air is to life. No one ever stumbles into success without a goal. No one ever lives without air. Get a clear fix on where you want to go.
Dave Mahoney rose from a low-paying job in the mailroom of an advertising agency to an agency vice president at twenty-seven, and president of the Good Humor Company at thirty-three. This is what he says about goals: “The important thing is not where you were or where you are but where you want to get.”
The progressive corporation plans company goals ten to fifteen years ahead. Executives, who manage leading businesses must ask, “Where do we want our company to be ten years from now?” Then they gauge their efforts accordingly. New plant capacity is built not of today’s needs but rather for needs five to ten years in the future. Research is undertaken to develop products that won’t appear for a decade or longer.
The modern corporation does not leave its future to chance. Should you?
Each of us can learn a precious lesson from the forward-looking business. We can and should plant at least ten years ahead. You must form an image now of the person you want to be ten years from now if you are to become that image. This is a critical thought. Just as the business (if it even survives), the individual who fails to set long-range goals will most certainly be just another person lost in life’s shuffle. Without goals, we cannot grow.
Let me share with you an example of why we must have long-run goals to achieve real success. Just last week a young man (let me call him F.B.) came to me with a career problem. F.B. looked well-mannered and intelligent. He was single and had finished college four years ago.
We talked for a while about what he was doing now, his education, his aptitudes, and his general background. Then I said to him, “You came to see me for help on making a job change. What kind of job are you looking for?”
“Well,” he said, “that’s what I came to see you about. I don’t know what I want to do.”
His problem, of course, was a very common one. But I realized that just arranging for the young man to have interviews with several possible employers would not help him. Trial and error is a pretty poor way to select a career. With dozens of career possibilities, the odds of stumbling into the right choice are several dozen to one. I knew I had to help F.B. see that before he starts going someplace career-wise, he’s got to know where that someplace is.
So, I said, “Let’s look at your career plan from this angle. Will you describe for me your image of yourself ten years from now?”
F.B., obviously studying the question, finally said, “Well, I guess I want what just about everyone else wants: a good job that pays well and a nice home. Really, though,” he continued, “I haven’t given it too much thought.”
This, I assured him, was quite natural. I went on to explain that his approach to selecting a career was like going to an airline ticket counter and saying, “Give me a ticket.” The people selling the tickets just can’t help you unless you give them a destination. So, I said, “And I can’t help you find a job until I know what your destination is, and only you can tell me that.”
This jarred F.B. into thinking. We spent the next two hours not talking about the merits of different kinds of jobs, but rather discussing how to set goals. F.B. learned I believe, the most important lesson in career planning: Before you start out, know where you want to go.
Like the progressive corporation, plan ahead. You are in a sense a business unit. Your talent, skills, and abilities are your “products”. You want to develop your products, so they command the highest possible price. Forward planning will do it.
Here are two steps that will help:
First, visualize your future in terms of three departments: work, home, and social. Dividing your life this way keeps you from becoming confused, prevents conflicts, helps you look at the whole picture.
Second, demand yourself clearly, precise answers to these questions: What do I want to accomplish with my life? What do I want to be? And What does it take to satisfy me?
Use the planning guide below to help.
An image of me, 10 years from now:
A. Work Department: 10 years from now:
1. What income level do I want to attain?
2. What level of responsibility do I seek?
3. How much authority do I want to command?
4. What prestige do I expect to gain from my work?
B. Home Department: 10 years from now:
1. What kind of standard of living do I want to provide for my family and myself?
2. What kind of house do I want to live in?
3. What kind of vacations do I want to take?
4. What financial support do I want to give my children in their early adult years?
C. Social Department: 10 years from now:
1. What kinds of friends do I want to have?
2. What social groups do I want to join?
3. What community leadership positions would I like to hold?
4. What worthwhile causes do I want to champion?