Goal Setting: A Way of Life

Dr. James McClave

I am a self-admitted goal-setting addict. My addiction began in my early thirties when I listened to the motivational tapes – yep, back then we listened to tapes on our car tape players – of Earl Nightingale. “You become what you think about” was Earl’s primary thesis, and it resonated with me. So, I began to focus on what I “thought about” by following his advice to write down goals and review them regularly.

This time of year is especially important for my goal-setting addiction, since I formed the habit of formally revisiting and revising my goals on New Years Day or shortly thereafter, in the tradition of establishing New Year’s resolutions. Several principles guide my goal-setting: no more than five per year, very specific but simply stated, and a combination of business and personal goals. Some advise sharing goals with others, but for me they are my private guideposts. I revisit my goals on a regular basis throughout the year to assess progress, but in no case do I change them until the following year.

I have learned the hard way that some specific wording can backfire. For example, for some years I set the goal of “breaking par” in golf, my lifelong favorite avocation. In 1992 that happened for the first time, and perhaps because of my having been so specific, for the only time to date! More importantly, I have set numerous business goals for Info Tech over the years, both cultural and monetary, and nearly all of them have been met or exceeded. Random chance? Perhaps, but as a statistician I think chance explanations are often a cop-out.

Pardon me, but I need to get busy on my 2019 goals.