Everybody knows you've got to set goals and stay acutely focused on those goals if you want to achieve anything in life.
But what if “everybody” is wrong?
Let's say you're a coach and your goal is to win the championship. How do you do that? By focusing on all the things your team needs to do to get good enough to win. Daydreaming about winning isn't going to be enough. You've got to practice, practice, practice.
Or you're a sales person and your goal is to earn $200,000 this year in commissions, twice what you earned last year. How do you do that? By focusing on calling on a certain number of good prospects every single day without fail. Otherwise you'll continue to work like you have in the past, and the goal will likely be just one more thing you didn't achieve.
Or you're a writer and your goal is to write a 240 page book in the next 60 days. How do you do that? By sitting down and writing 4 pages per day. If you don't focus on the process of writing those 4 pages a day, you'll never make the goal.
Or maybe you're in Internet Marketing. Wait – if you're reading this you ARE an online marketer. So let's say your goal is to earn $10,000 a month. How do you do that: By focusing on the goal? Or by focusing on your sales and marketing process? Of course it's the day to day process that will eventually get you to your goal. Otherwise it's all just pie in the sky and wishful thinking.
Obviously goals and your day-to-day focus can go hand in hand. But when you focus on the goal you naturally reduce your current happiness. You're basically deciding that when you reach your goal, then you'll be happy and successful. But not now. Not yet.
Conversely when you focus on the system that will get you to the goal, you're focused on what you need to do right now. You can feel happy and successful each day that you focused on your system, whether that's writing 4 pages for your book or contacting 15 potential affiliates.
You also have a weird thing happen if and when you achieve your goal if you're not focused on the process – you tend to stop what you're doing that got you there in the first place. If you focus on writing 4 pages a day, then you'll have a new 240 page book every 2 months, or 6 per year. But if you focus only on the goal of having the book written, then once you complete it you'll stop writing.
So how do you make the switch from goal setting to focusing on the systems that will get you the goals? Identify what needs to be done to reach your goal, and then spend your time doing those things. This way your goal will take care of itself and you'll feel successful everyday, not just the day you reach your goal.
One more thing: They say you're supposed to make your goal specific, measurable and time-bound. But if all we're focused on is the goal, we can end up cheating ourselves to achieve it. Consider the salesman who was so desperate to meet his sales goal, he stole a major client from a fellow sales person at his company. Yes, he achieved his goal, but the victory was hollow and his reputation in the office was shot to pieces.
Conversely, sometimes when we simply allow ourselves to focus on the day to day process and systems that take us to our goals, we find we've reached an even better goal we hadn't initially thought of. Consider another salesman who didn't stress about the big goal, but instead he simply made sure he emailed 50 prospects a day, called 15 prospects and spoke with 10 prospects. This is what he did day in and day out. Yes, he met his goal, but in fact he exceeded it by all expectations and was hired away by another company to become their new sales manager.
Two sales people with the same goal but two different focuses – which would you choose? Personally I find that a big goal can stress me out, sometimes to the point of almost feeling paralyzed. But knowing that I have a system to focus on that makes everything simple and completely manageable lets me relax and get busy. And I usually achieve my goals well ahead of schedule, without the stress and with a continuing sense of accomplishment and happiness.
Try it – just for one month focus on the day to day process instead of the big hairy goal and see if it doesn't make a difference for you, too.