One of the most intriguing topic in the area of personal development is Goal Setting. A few years back, I found a story on the importance of proper goal setting and goal management.
A well-known U.S. Decathlete and Olympic gold medalist, Bruce Jenner, was speaking to a roomful of Olympic hopefuls.
He asked if they’ve made a list of goals. All hands went up.
He asked again, “How many of you have your list of goals with you right now?”
Only one hand went up and that hand belong to a young decathlete by the name of Dan O’Brien.
Of all the top athletes in that room, only Dan O’Brien carried his goals with him.
Reason? So, he could always read them and stay focused on them.
And guest what? He won three consecutive world championships (1991, 1993, 1995), set the world record in 1992 and the Olympic title in 1996.
If you are still not convinced on the idea of goal setting, then let me tell you another story…
On May 25, 1961, United States President John F. Kennedy announced a goal. He said that America would put a person safely on the Moon before the end of the decade. Many was skeptical.
On July 20 1969, the world witnessed that goal becoming a reality when an aerospace engineer, navigator and astronaut, Neil Armstrong, stepped onto the Moon’s surface.
Goal setting is not just for athletes or leaders of nations and corporations, but it is something that we can learn and apply. If this still does not convince you, then let me share a personal story…
I joined a local company in Nov 2005 as a Systems Controller. The title seemed very glamorous but it was mainly an administrative position.
I dealt with paperwork, servicing scheduling, safety, reports and many ISOs, the kind of work that technicians and engineers tend to avoid. Whenever required, I will co-design SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to improve the way the entire team worked.
I have to work closely with the technicians and throughout the first one and a half year, I continued doing the same thing and while I watched my colleagues getting promoted to supervisors and senior supervisors. That point of time, I really wondered where I was heading.
My boss kept telling me that I have been doing a good job but for 1.5 years, I did not see any increase in my salary or any word of a career progress. It was really a disheartening, demoralizing feeling when all I can do is watch the others reach new heights of their careers while I stayed put.
I have been listening to a few similar motivational audios and read a few books of this genre since the early 2000s but it never really took off or I was not consistent in following up. It was during that time when I came across ‘The Secret’ from Youtube and ‘Cultivating An Unshakable Character’ by Jim Rohn.
From there, I found a connection between the theories of all the books I read and the various goal-achieving audio and video. Jim Rohn spoke about goal setting, to list down all the things I want to achieve in the short, mid and long term, and prioritizing what was more important. ‘The Secret’ video taught about visualizations and focusing on good thoughts.
In short, where your mind goes, energy flows.
I decided to test it out.
The Goal-Setting Experiment
In May 2007, I prepared a list of items that I want to achieve. I broke them into short term and mid term goals.
Short Term Goal: To get promoted to assistant account manager by the end of that year.
Mid Term Goal: To achieve First Class Honours in the Bachelor of Science in Management in March 2008.
Long Term Goal: If I remember correctly, I did not make any long term goal because this was supposed to be an experiment.
After that, I designed my blueprint or plan to reach that goal and a list of daily commitments.
In addition to that, I did these too;
1- I printed out my goals on an A4 size paper and put it on my cupboard door, forcing me to read it every morning before I get my clothes for work.
2- I prepared a list of attitude I am expected to have and activities that I am expected to do consistently in order to achieve these goals. This list is also printed out and placed on the same cupboard door.
3- I read it every day and tried to adopt a positive working attitude, a bit at a time. This part is tough but thankfully, social media was not that prevalent. I began paying little or no attention to negative colleagues. I ignored everything negative and placed more effort on delivering good work.
4- I prayed to my Creator, seeking divine help in providing me with opportunities to show what I can do.
It became part of me over time and I became more pro-active in creating and implementing changes to the team’s daily operations. I was able to enjoy better concentration for my studies and have better focus on my work.
Before that, some of my colleagues used to heckle me. Due to my role as an internal auditor to their work, I was not the most likable person in the team. They would vent their unhappiness about me being there and made sure I heard it.
After I set my goals and commitments, I was focused on working towards what I really wanted. I was happy to be able to ‘Don’t Give A Damn’ about what they said and it worked extremely well.
It did not take long for them to stop.
How did my work changed?
-I relooked at the entire operations, following the pareto’s 80/20 rule, proposed to my supervisors and get their support and eventually getting the support of my manager. One of them was insourcing IT support for the team by tapping on internal capabilities.
-I conducted induction training, safety training and UPDI regeneration training (this was how I first got started in training.
-I took on the task of organizing several department dinners and gatherings.
It may seemed to be added work but I didn’t care. I was more interested in the opportunities in learning to do those tasks. Instead of dreading, I was excited.
New Opportunities Unfolding, One Event At A Time.
On September 2007, I was called up by my Manager and he told me that he will be pulling me out of the current job to assist him on other projects. In addition to that, he gave me an increment of SGD250 dollars. Not bad, I thought. That was a great start! I was curious and excited for more possibilities.
By the end of October, I was getting restless and I could not sense my goals getting nearer. I decided to look for another job. I knew I needed to achieve that goal and if present situation do not allow it, I had to work around it.
Somehow, there was a twist of events that led me to accomplish one of my goals.
My Deputy General Manager called me personally to his office one Friday afternoon and had a word with me. He was planning to promote me to take over one of the company’s contract.
Now here’s the interesting part, he has never met or spoken to me in those years I worked in the company! This was it!! I thought.
However, about 2 days later, my direct Manager insisted that I stayed on with his team as Systems Controller. This part of my life has taught me another lesson, goals are not easy to achieve. Even if you have got a glimpse of it for a while, if you are not determined enough, you will lose it altogether.
I had no choice but to tell my manager that I will have to leave if I had to stay in that factory. I needed that ‘freshness’ and new challenges. Reluctantly, he had to let me go. By 14th November 2007, I was promoted to an Assistant Account Manager of the company. (Hey! Stop feeling sorry for my direct manager. Even though I got promoted and given the opportunity to oversea a large contract, I was still reporting to him and this contract was placed as part of his portfolio)
I was not convinced that this technique works and at times I thought that my achievements could be just a fluke. On December 2007, I decided to test it out again.
Another Experiment…. Again..
I created a similar list. Now, achieving a First Class Honours for my studies became a short term goal and for my mid-term goal, I chose another promotion-To be a full Account Manager. I followed the same practice on a daily basis and here were my results;
1. I achieved a Second Class Honours (Uppers, Grade 1) for my degree course in June 2008.
2. Promoted once more to a full Account Manager in July 2008. 2 promotions with 3 salary increments in one year! Why is this such a big deal to me? From my personal work experience before I joined this company, 13th month salary, promotion and salary adjustments were close to a taboo.
Can you imagine how excited I was?
My advice to all my friends and to everyone reading this, you may try the same technique. Do not be disheartened if it failed to work. Keep trying to figure out the best formula for yourself. I am neither a master nor an expert on these things and I sometimes need help.
Goal setting helps you to focus your efforts and resources on what you want to achieve, and in the process, it makes you an effective person.
Once you can consistently get into that state of focus, the feeling is…. incredible..
From then till early 2013, I was looking at the different goal setting methodologies. In July 2013, I had the opportunity to bring this knowledge on goal setting to different groups of people as a WSQ trainer.
Goal setting is part of the WSQ Develop Personal Effectiveness which is available in Singapore.
Why Develop Personal Effectiveness?
- An effective person will have clear, specific goals and find ways to allign them to the goals of the company they work for or the businesses they’re in.
- An effective person will have a clear idea of their own strength and weaknesses, and will have a variety of ways to make up for those weaknesses.
- An effective person will seek help especially if it’s beyond what they can manage.
- An effective person will know what are the resources they already have, what are the resources they need and how to get their hands on those resources.
- An effective person reflects a good level of independence and a spirit of entrepreneurship within an organization, be it a business corporation or a voluntary organization.
Some facts of work-life..
1. Superiors love to oversee an effective person or team.
2. We love to work alongside someone who is full of energy, focused and effective.
Question now, if we love effectiveness, why don’t we be effective ourselves.. Or at least, learn to become one?
Interested in WSQ Develop Personal Effectiveness? Drop me a note below..