Accomplish Your Dreams by Focusing on Skills, Not Goals
The Secret to Hitting Targets Is to Become a Better Archer.
Successful people often set goals, but usually successful people accomplish goals with an unusual approach. Rather than obsessing about all the circumstances they need to meet their goals, they worry about one thing: how can I become a better person so that reaching that goal is easier? In other words, they focus on what they can change about themselves rather than the things they cannot control.
That is what truly sets apart the good from the great. The Good focus on a goal; the Great focus on a skill. So go ahead and think of a goal, but once you do, ask yourself one question: “What is the one skill that I need to improve upon or learn in order to achieve that goal?”
Set Yourself Up for Success, Not Failure
Think back to all of your New Year’s resolutions. How many have you actually accomplished over the years? Chances are that number is in the single digits, if not zero. I am saying this not to berate you, but to help you realize that setting rigid goals can be setting yourself up to fail. Resolutions are often an “all or nothing” proposal with little room for accomplishment in between.
Instead of worrying about resolutions, worry about the skills you need to reach your resolution. Want to lose seven pounds? If you really wanted to, you could starve yourself and sweat it out like a professional fighter to meet that goal in one day. Want to actually be healthier? Focus on skills. Learn to cook healthier meals, train yourself to jog more effectively and pick up a new hobby that keeps you active.
You may not lose the weight immediately, but when you do it will be permanent instead of temporary.
Resolutions Change, Resolve Doesn’t
By adding new skills to your toolset in this way, you will always have something to show for attempting goals even if you get nowhere close to them. So, stop worrying about New Year’s resolutions, because 88 percent of them never happen. Instead, think about what skills you need to improve your lifestyle or behavior and make your goals easier than ever to reach. Remember that an archer does not hit his target by envisioning the bullseye; they do it by practicing every day.
This maxim especially applies when you are setting professional goals. Perhaps you want to expand your company into new territory, so you can learn about the needs of that territory while also learning more about logistics and long-distance management. Perhaps you have financial goals, so you can learn more about making smart investments. Having the resolve to earn these skills can change “I want to make a million dollars in sales this year” to “I will learn how to manage my sales team more effectively.”
Action Steps to Take
- Write down a goal that has been weighing on your mind
- Determine what skill you could improve to make reaching the goal more likely
- Start focusing on improving that skill for several hours a week until you have mastered it
Do not think that you are too busy to learn, either. Take 15— 60-minute breaks in your day to study, practice or learn something new.
Use empty time to your advantage to learn even more. For instance, identify three books on the subject for you to read instead of watching TV. Then, identify three audio CDs, MP3s or podcasts. You can listen to these on your way to work. If it takes you 20 minutes to go to work, you can be filling your head with talk radio or learning a skill that is going to better your life. We can call it “Windshield University.” You are stuck in that car; you might as well be learning while you are there.
Next, identify a course, class or seminar you can attend.
Divide your year into quarters, and let these materials be your goal for the next three months. Devour as much knowledge about the skill as you can and find ways to practice and evaluate your skill to mark your progress.
Improving your skill in this way is what gets you to your goal and puts you one step closer to your full potential… Realized.