Wednesday 7 January 2015

Chasing Butterflies vs. Digging for Gold

"Realize what you really want.  It stops you from chasing butterflies and puts you to work digging gold."  (William Moulton Marsden)

In his book Goals:  How To Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, author Brian Tracy references a study conducted on a group of Harvard MBA graduates in 1979.  One group upon graduation did not have any specific goals (84%).  The second group had goals, but did not write them down (13%).  The third group wrote down their goals (3%). Ten years later, a follow up study was conducted.  It turned out that the second group, who had goals, was making twice the amount of money of the first group, who was goalless.  The third group, however, who had written down their goals, was making ten times the money of the first two groups!

Brian Tracy says there are seven keys to goal setting:

1.  Goals must be clear, specific and detailed.  Vague statements like:  "I'm going to be a happier person" will not be beneficial to you.  Goals must be written down.  The act of writing it down helps transform what might seem like a pipe dream into a realistic goal.

2.  Goals must be measurable and objective.  A third party should be able to evaluate them.

3.  "Attaching a deadline to each goal is like ending a statement with an exclamation mark!" says Brian Tracy.  A deadline keeps you dedicated to the task at hand.  Goals can be set at one week, one month, six months, one year or five years.  Daily goal setting is also recommended.

4.  Goals should be challenging.  They must take you a bit out of your comfort zone.  At the same time, they should be attainable (50% probability rate).

5.  Goals must be in harmony with your values and with your other goals.  For example, building a successful business and playing golf every afternoon do not go hand in hand.

6.  Goals should be balanced among the many aspects of your life:  career, family, finances, health, spiritual life, community involvement.  A well rounded person is a more happy and fulfilled person.

7.  You must have a major purpose for your life.  You must have one goal that strives towards this purpose.  As you move towards the one major goal, you will likely find yourself achieving the smaller ones as well.

It's up to you how you want to organize your goals, whether in list form or as a chart.  You can write them on a calendar or on multi-coloured notepad paper.  You can save them on your cell phone or IPod or tuck them away in a secret drawer.  I would recommend that you keep them somewhere that is easily accessible and visible to you.  If they are handwritten, use pencil just in case you need to made changes or additions.   Brian Tracy suggests that you revisit your goals frequently to see how you are progressing.

For more information, read:

1.  Motivation and Goals:  How to Set and Achieve Goals and Inspire Others by Jim Cairo (1998) at

2.  Goal Setting and Self Directed Behavior Change by David A. Kolb and Richard E. Boyatzis (2011) at

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