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Want to be a top achiever? Stop setting goals

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Douglas Vermeeren speaking at the FM conference f

Want to Be a Top Achiever?  Stop Setting Goals!

By Douglas Vermeeren

When most people make a goal, they state something they want to do or achieve, set a completion date, create some checkpoints for the goal, and then cross items off their list as they get done. Unfortunately, such an approach rarely leads to long-term success.

Why? Because the traditional goal-setting formula most people follow was developed in the early 1900s in manufacturing to enable company executives to monitor the number of units coming out of a factory by a certain date. It’s a great measuring stick if you’re manufacturing products, but if you’re trying to improve yourself or achieve something non-tangible, it’s a woefully ineffective and out-of-date process.

For example, if your goal is to have a better relationship with your spouse, the traditional goal-setting formula simply won’t work. Can you realistically set a completion date for the “better relationship” to occur? Can you define specific action steps that will enable you to create a better relationship with your spouse? Sure, you can decide to do things such as a weekly date night or spend an hour each day talking with your spouse, but are those items you can cross off a list once you do them, never to think of them again? Probably not. That’s why the current goal-setting formula that people use is incomplete.

All goals fall into one of two categories: “Be” goals and “Do” goals. Just as the names imply, “Be” goals encompass anything you want to be (a better spouse, a more productive employee, a more successful business owner, a more compassionate friend), and “Do” goals describe anything you want to do (close 20 sales, attend a child’s softball game, wash the dishes, hire a new employee). The traditional formula of goal setting only takes into account “Do” goals. Yet for most top achievers, 80 percent of their goals are “Be’ goals and only 20 percent are “Do” goals. They’re more concerned with character attributes than arriving at a final destination point. They know that character attributes often enable them to attain successful levels.

So it’s not that top achievers don’t set goals; rather, they set goals differently. Rather than use the word “goal,” top achievers use words like “destination” or “performance” or “habits.” They don’t cross items off a list and forget about them, they build upon their accomplishments to reach even greater levels of success.

If you want to be like the top achievers and attain new heights of success, then you need to use the proven “4 P” formula top performers use. By doing so, you’ll be able to achieve amazing results.

1. Amazing Potential: Every single person has an incredible amount of potential. Unfortunately, most people have no idea how significant their potential is. The fact is that you can do anything and you are worthy of anything. You simply need to believe that.

Top achievers have no doubts about their potential. They believe they can accomplish anything they want, no matter how lofty the desire. If they want to close 20 sales by the end of the month, they know they can do it. They believe in themselves unconditionally. Therefore, to be like a top achiever, you too need to believe that you can accomplish anything you dream. The sky’s the limit, so think big.

2. Amazing Possibility: While you have the potential to do anything you can conceive, you don’t truly understand what’s possible unless you see someone else doing it or something similar. For example, for decades no one believed it was possible to run a mile in under four minutes, but since Roger Bannister broke the “four minute barrier” in 1954, many athletes have improved upon his record. Once athletes saw what was possible, they pushed themselves to do better and accomplish more.

The same holds true in the business world. When we see other people close contracts, invent new products and offer new services, we see what’s possible and we make our own vision for our future. We recognize our possibilities by what we see and believe. Once we believe it, that vision turns into a desire. As we believe and desire those things we see more possibilities around us. Going back to our example of closing 20 sales by the end of the month, as long as we see other people in our company or industry closing sales, then we see the possibility that exists and we can build upon that. We may even be able to get specific, such as seeing what specific product sells best, what price point sells most, etc.

3. Amazing Probability: To make something probable, you need to surround yourself with people and events that increase your chance of success. Think of it this way: If you were at one end of a long room, and at the other end was a dart board, people would say it wasn’t probable that you could put a dart in the bull’s eye. But with every step closer to the dart board you took, you’d increase your probability of getting a bull’s eye.

Those steps you take forward are what you learn, the relationships you have, the things you surround yourself with, and the preparation you put in. In our sales example, we could surround ourselves with customers who could fulfill our objective, other salespeople who could teach us the techniques we need to know, circumstances where we would have the ability to pitch and sell, and self-improvement venues that would enable us to think and act like a top producer.

4. Awesome Performance: Most people have heard the phrase “Give a man to fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But the truth is that if you teach a man to fish he doesn’t eat for a lifetime; he’s just a man in a classroom. In order to eat forever he has to get out to the lake with a fishing rod and start fishing. So the last step to achieving great things is to get out there and actually do something. That’s what top achievers do. So if you were trying to close 20 sales by month’s end, you would now need to put everything you’ve learned and observed into action. Action, not knowledge alone, is what creates results.

Make Your Life Amazing: All top achievers go through this four-step process. They recognize their potential, they see the possibilities, and they turn those possibilities into probabilities by learning and putting themselves into positions where they can gain more information and surround themselves with the right people. As they accumulate this information they turn it into performance by actually doing something with it. That’s really the secret to achieving all your life’s goals.

Remember, success is not an event. It’s a journey. That’s why performance is so important, and consistent performance is nothing more than a habit. So if you want to be successful, you need to identify the successful attributes you want to display and make them habits. It’s not sufficient to do something great once and then expect your life to be brilliant. You need to continually strive to do bigger and better things. Rather than cross accomplishments off a list, you need to build upon them so you can achieve even more. Only then can you truly accomplish everything you want in life—all without ever setting a single goal.

Douglas Vermeeren is the founder of the SUCCEED Research Center and the author of Guerrilla Achiever, The Opus and 101 Ways to Increase Productivity in the workplace.  He has conducted extensive research into the lives of more than 400 of the world’s top achievers and is involved in pioneering new cutting edge Neuroscience techniques for greater personal and business success. He can help you accomplish your goals. Currently he is the personal coach to many top business executives and hollywood celebrities.


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    December 12, 2010 at 3:17 am


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