Goal Setting – The Way Forward

So here is where the hard work begins: There was a famous study done at Yale University in 1953. In that study, the 1953 graduating class was polled and it was found that 3% of the students had definitive, written goals for their future.  In 1973, the surviving members of the class were polled and it was found that the 3% with the written goals had more net worth than the other 97% COMBINED.  That is as powerful a statement as can be made for the effectiveness of goal setting.

There are a great many techniques for goal setting.  You have to play around a bit to see what you think speaks to the way YOU think.  I’ve done this many times in many ways. From straight up goals in writing to “Vision Boarding” which is basically goal setting with pictures. I’ll do a separate post  on that as it is a good variation for visual oriented people. I’ve heard a lot of theories on goal setting.  Some are very forgettable and surface and some really bring results.  I want to share with you what I have found to be most effective.

In 1937, Napolean Hill first published his seminal study of success “Think and Grow Rich.”  He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to research and come up with a philosophy of success.  Over a 25 year period, Hill interviewed 500 of the worlds most successful people.  Not only did he find that the vast majority wrote down their goals, he was able to narrow down the common denominators to form a philosophy and a system.  Most modern goal setting techniques use and expand on this classic system, but in reviewing it for myself I find it to be the most purely communicated and a streamlined way to formulate goals.

Hill’s philosophy is relatively simple: Choose a goal, plan the work to achieve the goal, work the plan with persistence and determination until you achieve the goal.  Sounds easy enough, right?  The hard part is when you hit obstacles, and you will hit obstacles.  The majority of people give up the first time the hit an obstacle.  The difference between successful people and those that give up is that successful people understand that failure is not defeat, it is a necessary in the process of becoming successful.  It’s almost a yin and yang principle.  Failure helps to redirect and refocus your efforts as you move towards success.

Thomas Edison famously said:  “I did not fail 10,000 times inventing the light bulb.  I successfully found 10,000 ways that did not work”

These are Napolean Hill’s six steps of goal setting:


Fix in your mind your goal, BE SPECIFIC.  If it is wealth, fix in your mind an exact amount of money you wish to earn.


Determine what you plan to GIVE IN RETURN to reach your goal.  If your goal is financial, what goods and/or services will you provide.  If you want to shoot two movies, what preparation, study, ongoing training do you plan to do and other jobs to get there do you plan on doing.  I think we can all agree that in this world nothing comes for free. Whatever you want you’re going to have to work hard for it.  You have to acknowledge that in your goals.


Establish a DEFINITE DATE that you will achieve your goal.


Establish a DEFINITE PLAN to achieve your goal and begin the plan immediately whether you are ready or not.


Write out a clear, concise STATEMENT of the goal you plan to achieve.  Name the time limit for its achievement. State what you plan to give in return, and describe clearly the plan through which you will achieve your goal.


This is the most important step.  Read your written statement twice daily OUT LOUD.  Once in the morning and once in the evening. As you read your statement, see, feel and believe yourself as having already achieved your goal.


Take one goal at a time, obviously prioritize your goals, but break it down and do this exercise for every goal you wish to achieve.  I’ve found when I do too sophisticated and broad whole life goals, I tend to put them away and never look at them.  By stating one goal at a time, you will be focused.  If you have multiple goals, you will have multiple statements.  That’s OK, what you will notice is that the individual goals begin to form a tapestry of your life.

You can and must get to the point where you’ve memorized word for word your statement.  I think we all agree the mind is extremely powerful. Telling your conscious and subconscious the plan over and over will spur your mind to action and call on your imagination’s assistance in helping you come up with plans to get there.  Repetition is the key to success.  Again, repetition is the key to success.  The marketing guru Chet Holmes puts it this way:  “Success is not doing 4000 things 12 times, it’s doing 12 things 4000 times.”

All through my life in one, way, shape or form I’ve been a musician.  I’m still learning to play the guitar (10 years later.)  At the moment, I’m working on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice.” Chordally pretty easy, but it is a finger picking song in “claw style.”  Yeah, I know, look it up, it’s hard.  Especially hard to do as fast as you need to, to play the song.  I practice it every day for about 20 minutes, more if I can.  And I’ll keep practicing only that until I have it memorized and can play it on command.  Practice towards memory recall is necessary in any artistic discipline.  It’s the same with goal setting and business discipline.  If you do not reinforce your goals everyday and tell yourself what you intend to achieve over and over again, you might as well not do it at all.  Mine are posted in my closet.  To get dressed, I have to see them.  I’m private about them, but I still have them in a place where I see and read them all the time.

You need to do the same to move forward.   Give yourself the 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night to work on the things that you really desire in your life.  I think you’re worth it. The question is: do you?

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul the blue prints of your ultimate accomplishments.

-Napolean Hill

One response to “Goal Setting – The Way Forward

  1. Sylvia J. Handal

    I really liked this article because I find it very useful to understand what you really want to do next in your life.

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