Positivity Quest Day 77: Goals Defined

The important thing is to strive towards a goal which is not immediately visible.  That goal is not the concern of the mind, but of the spirit.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Years ago when I was a career counselor in Seattle at the phone company I devoted an entire week of a job search workshop to goal setting.   It is not a hard skill to master yet one that is rarely practiced.  A study of  Harvard Business School graduates focused on the question of goal setting.  Only three percent of the class had written goals, an additional 13 percent had mental goals and 84 percent had no specific goals at all.  Ten years later, the same cohort was interviewed again.  The 13 percent that had goals, albeit unwritten were earning twice that of the 84 percent with no clear goals.  The 3 percent who had clear, written goals were earning ten times as much as the remaining 97 percent.

Although that study focuses only on earnings as a measure of success, it demonstrates the power of knowing what you want and claiming it, even if only for yourself.   So many people walk around without a map for their lives.  They believe that someone or something in life will show them the way and many end up in lives that reflect little of their potential and even less of their dreams.  In fact this was the where the discussion at the phone company always ended up.

Back before all the phone company shake ups, a job with one of the bell companies was a long term future with benefit packages that many people couldn’t walk away from, even when they hated their job.   So many of my clients lived lives of quiet desperation that felt entirely out of their control.   My suggestion that they could envision a different future seemed insanity.  I know people today who I see daily at the post office in the same situation.  They cannot tolerate their days and find it impossible to make a life they could embrace.

I had forgotten the power of naming your goals and checking in with them regularly.  Keeping the question of how you live today as a means to creating the tomorrow that you have committed to is a good beginning.   The importance of clarity can not be overstated. The better defined the target, the more likely you are to find it.   There is a boldness and magic to defining and going after the life you dream of that magnetizes people to you.   It is almost like life lines itself up to fulfill what is already stated.

I know there are many out there, shaking their head in disbelief because there is a parallel universe where it is easy to get stuck.   This is the universe which responds in kind to the blame and justification that we heap on life and the people we know when things don’t immediately go our way.  Something deep down doesn’t really believe that we are capable of attaining our own dreams and can simultaneously sabotage and make it look like one is a victim of circumstance.

Could we entertain for a moment that there is no such thing?  That everything that happens at every moment is the perfect manifestation for your soul journey?  Is there really a soul journey that needs the wrong packaging thrown at it?  Or a lost job?  A sick child?  Could all the random and inconvenient moments of life really be a gift to us?  This is the leap of taking full responsibility for your life.  It is the place beyond resistance and blame.  It wasn’t until today that I realized that my resistance to this is also the thing that keeps me from fully realizing my dreams.   They are two sides of the same coin.  Ayn Rand once wrote: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”    I am going to write down a few goals tonight and will keep you posted.


W. C
W. C5 months ago


William C
William C5 months ago

Thank you.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.5 years ago

Great article

John S.
Past Member 6 years ago

Good reminders.

Anonymous X.
Pirana X6 years ago

I do find it helpful to write down goal. It's easier to write down major life goals and then sub-goals to slowly reach the major goals. It's important to periodically check on your progress or writing down your goals is pretty much pointless.

Sarah F.
Sarah F7 years ago

I don't mean to be rude or negative, but the 'Harvard study' is apocryphal - it never actually happened, and is urban myth. There have been actual studies though, such as this one: http://sidsavara.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/researchsummary2.pdf

Jewels S.
Jewels S7 years ago

I love the and rand quote. I am going to put a postit up on my door to remind me of that.

Steffanie B.
Steffanie Beale7 years ago

I'm living this reality! I, from this day forward INTEND to have my goals and intentions set and in focus. That way when the doubters speak, I will KNOW.

Raquel M.
Raquel M.7 years ago

thanks for this....

June H.
June Higgins7 years ago

Putting your goals on paper is very important. In my busy life and my struggles, I have put this out of my mind for a couple of years. Maybe, if I start again, my future will be brighter. I used to put my goals down on paper, read them several times a day, and then picture the goals being completed. It really helps. Thank you Wendy, I needed a good slap on the head.