Happy New Year

It’s hard to believe that we’re only hours away from 2011!  Time flies and we get so busy that we don’t really design our lives, too many people just keep putting out daily “fires” and doing what needs to be done just to survive.

Sitting here with my broken ankle has forced me to slow down. It’s given me more hours to think than I’d ever imagined I’d have, and it’s become a mixed blessing.  Fortunately the pain is almost gone now that the cast has been removed and I’m wearing this boot, so that frees up yet more of my thoughts so I can consider where to go next with my life.

Many years ago I found a little book titled If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going You Won’t Know How To Get There. The cover was appropriately a page from a road map, and the entire book explained how we would never think of getting in our car in New York and just randomly driving out to San Francisco (or other points West).  We’d look at a map and plan out our trip, making sure to stop to do some sightseeing along the way.  However, with our lives we have a tendency to just “hit the pavement running.”  Without a goal in mind, where are we running to, and how will we know when we arrive?

In the movie, The Secret, Jack Canfield says in order to drive from New York to California at night we just need to see the next 200 ft ahead of us, we don’t need to see the entire road. If you combine these two thoughts, first having goals of where we’d like to go (build a house? buy a new car? improve our education? take better care of your health?) and then look at the next “200 ft” and make smaller goals (quit smoking? start a savings account?) that direct us to our larger goal, then we’re on our way.

In the book What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack you can read about  a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

Take some time out of your day today. Write down clear major goals that you’d like to achieve in the next five years, then write down under each goal some interim yearly goals that would lead you there, and finally, looking at your smaller goals, think of what you need to do in the next 30 days to start your “road trip” toward those major goals.  It’s actually fun and you feel so good when you’re finished.

Take control of your life.

I wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!



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