How to get what you want in business and life
Editor's note: The Gray Area is undergoing a format change. Donna Gray is going to start blogging on common issues facing small business owners, lending her perspective and insights based on a lifetime of experience in business. Think of it as “Dear Abby” for business. If you have a business issue or question you'd like expert guidance on, email Online Editor Jason Busch at email@example.com, with the subject “The Gray Area,” and we'll have Donna and her extensive network of business experts tackle it for you.
Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919), Scottish-American industrialist, philanthropist, and richest man in America in the early 1900s, said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.”
At a recent luncheon, my tablemates were discussing the goals they set for their personal and business lives each year. Everyone admitted that it’s easy to get distracted from objectives when there are interruptions from everyday life. A couple days later I had this same discussion with a life coach friend who said that we can have anything we want in life, we simply have to understand how to produce the desired results. She shared some powerful suggestions, such as:
- Creating and having goals helps to provide a feeling of control and a sense of calling your own shots.
- Your goals have to meet two criteria — how much and when. You have to determine what you want to accomplish and establish a time frame.
- Be flexible in creating your goals. People change. Conditions change. You should always be able to alter your goals.
- Goals should be written out so they are clear and specific. They can be as detailed and colorful as desired, and easy to visualize. When written down the subconscious mind will know what it has to work on.
- Goals can help you to grow, learn new skills, and expand your vision of what’s possible.
- Goals should be revisited several times each day. Review the list one goal at a time and then in your mind’s eye picture each goal as already being accomplished.
- Enlist family, friends, and coworkers to help with monitoring progress. The prospect of disappointing others helps to keep one on track.
My life coach friend said the truth is that we can accomplish most anything we set out to do. One important thing to remember is that our thoughts create our life. Once you take the first step by creating and writing down your goals, you’re on the way to taking control of the desired outcome.
People ask children what they want to be when they grow up, as if there is one answer. When I was much younger I would have said, “to be a singer of show tunes.” Life circumstances change and our goals can change in a heartbeat. How can we know all the possibilities that will come our way? Personal and business life can be like a roller coaster where the view from the top is breathtaking and some of the dips can be life and/or business altering. Setting goals, even when they have to be changed, can help to even out the ride.
The best advice I ever got was from my parents, both immigrants, who were successful entrepreneurs in a couple of family owned businesses. My dad’s philosophy was always “enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” He made sure all of his goals included a little bit of fun. Both parents had a vision for the better life they wanted for their children. They firmly believed that no matter what the dream or goal, no matter what your age, it’s never too late to begin again! I think it’s time to start my list of goals for what I want to be now when I grow up.
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