The Importance of Goal Setting
This is part 2 of the interview with Gary Ryan Blair. If you want to read part 1 of the interview, please click here.
Vinil: How important is goal setting? I would assume that goal setting is part of the personal planning process right?
Gary: It is. It’s a huge part. As a matter of fact, I call it the center of gravity. There’s a term in the military. I’ve been working with a number of different branches of government for years now and it’s actually called a center of gravity. What it means is when a general goes in and builds a battle plan they ask, what is the center of gravity? It’s one of three things: It’s a person, it’s a place or it’s a thing. Concentrate on this for a minute. It’s a person, a place, a thing. Well, what I want to get as it relates towards an individual is that I want you to equate your center of gravity. It’s almost like your heartbeat. If your heart were not beating what kind of shape would you be in physically? And, the answer is very simple: you’d be non-existent. You’d be road kill, history.
Whatever word you want to use! And the exact same thing is true when it comes to your own life. Without goals, you are effectively toast. You are a competitive liability. You are of no value to your organization. And, quite frankly, you’re NOT doing all that much with your life. Your goals give meaning, it gives direction, it provides you with some sense of significance that you’re doing something of value. So, we all need to have some sense of goal direction on a day-to-day basis.
Vinil: If goal setting is so important why don’t more people set goals and why isn’t it taught in schools and universities? I’ve been to college for four years, no one told me about goal setting and that’s the case with most individuals who go through college. They’ve never been taught goal setting. What do you think are the primary reasons for that?
Gary: It’s a very good point. It’s one that’s bugged me for quite some time and I agree. With an advanced degree I’ve never learned the lesson myself. I really can’t answer the question as to why it’s not in the school system. It’s just not there because no one gives you a direct answer. But it’s a life skill. I’ve always basically said that there should be a course called “Cause and Effect 101” which basically shows people how to effectuate a result – how to go from intention to outcome to success as quickly as possible. And, we just don’t see that happen.
Here’s the deal: Most people are what I call functionally illiterate when it comes to goal setting. You know the subject matter may not seem overly sexy or interesting to folks but quite frankly there’s nothing more important in your life than knowing exactly what it is you want, why you want it and how you’re going to achieve it and on what day success is going to be and victory is going to be enjoyed. But when I talk about the illiterate concepts, some people are illiterate when it comes to reading. Some people are financially illiterate; they have no idea about investing their money. Some people are illiterate when it comes to running a business. Some when it comes to raising kids. And as a result of that they make a lot of mistakes. They screw themselves up or maybe even screw their family up because they have no skill sets. My whole aim in life is to teach people the literacy skills.
If you will associate with goal setting and unless you are taught, unless it’s modeled, unless you are consistently doing it, unless you’re in an environment where goal directed behavior in continually reinforced and rewarded you could flounder your entire life. I’ve seen people and I get emails every day from people of sixty, seventy, eighty years old saying I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I have no idea how to set goals.
Vinil: Everybody talks about goals being realistic. But isn’t realistic a relative term? How do you set a goal? Like what are the step-by-step procedures to set a goal?
Gary: Well, it’s actually very straightforward. Here’s the way that the whole thing works. I use a metaphor. And it’s a very simple one and I chose a simple one to get this point across. Think about a cookbook for just a moment. And to me a cookbook is the best success manual you’ll ever have in your life. And to understand a cookbook you have to understand something like a McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s for just a moment. And to become a franchise owner for McDonalds is going to cost you approximately a million dollars. And when you ask: “Well, what do you get for that million dollars?” They’ll say, well you get this, you get that, you get the distribution channel, you know the uh, the oil, the fries, the system and everything else. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Bottom line is truly what you get, is you get a big, fat recipe book.
You get a proven set of systems that have been documented, tested, proven, validated, put down in writing and they tell you: this will lead you to the promised land. That your success is absolutely, positively guaranteed if you follow this plan. So you’re buying a proven success system.
When you open up the cookbook there’s five things you want to look for. Number one: there’s a gorgeous full color picture. That picture represents the future. That represents the ideal state. It represents what it is that you are trying to create. The same way that you see that roast beef, that pot roast, that soufflé, with absolute clarity is the exact same thing you need to be able to see in your own life. You need that type of clarity.
Number two, there’s a sequence. You’ll notice there’s a step one, a step two, three, four and five. In the same way that if I were to teach you a meringue, if I were to show you how to open up a combination lock, there’s a sequence. If you’re going to dial a phone number, there’s a sequence to numbers in order to get an outcome. What we need to be able to do is to understand and develop a sequence, a set of steps. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems in life is most people are absolutely absent. Or should we say, they’re just out to lunch when it comes to this concept. They want to arrive without having made the trip. They want to get the six-pack without having to do the sit-ups nor eating properly or going out and doing a proper cardio. They want to be successful and rich and drive a wonderful car but they don’t want to necessarily have to pay the price of doing the hard work associated with it. So everything is out of sequence with people. As a result, they’ll never get the things that they want.
The ingredients in a cookbook are very precise. And this is where your goals come in. You can’t say, “I just want to make more money. I want to lose some weight. I want to get in a better relationship.” Those are not goals. Essentially what you’re listening to is somebody whose about to fail big time. Those are ambiguous statements that have no substantive value at all. I want to know that you’re going to do to increase your income by 15 percent in the next 16 months. I want to know that you‘re going to do to increase sales by 17 percent with this specific product and how you’re going to drive your profit margin by 22 percent.
You know, that’s a specific target that I can get my mind around. The fourth thing is that there’s a measurable component. In a cookbook you’ll notice if you look at it, those ingredients will tell you as I said they’ll be specific. It’ll tell you, you need eggs, you need butter, cream, whatever. But they’re also going to tell you you’ll need two eggs. you need a quart, you need a pint, you need a tablespoon. Whatever the ingredient happens to be. But there’s a measurable component associated with it so you can know if you’re doing it correctly.
Well, the measurement system, in the same way that the Yankees have a measurement system. You turn on the game, you’ll see a scoreboard. The scoreboard tells you if you’re winning, losing or tied. And if it’s late in the game and you’re losing, guess what? You’ve got to get much more aggressive and change your strategy and your tactics. And most people again, just don’t understand how to do this. And the last thing that you need in terms of effectively achieving your goals, is you need a deadline.
For a recipe book, it will be time and temperature. Because when it comes to your goals and I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings with what I’m about to say, but when it comes to your goals and your vision for your future, things that you want to do for yourself and your family, no one cares. No one has a vested interest. And, quite frankly, you do not give anyone any interest or any inkling to be concerned about your future if you don’t demonstrate a sense of urgency and don’t start setting deadlines on the goals you want to achieve.
And that’s the critical component: The important use of deadlines. So, quick summary: Those are the five things that are necessary.
About Gary Ryan Blair
Gary Ryan Blair is the author of the best selling book “Everything Counts: 52 remarkable ways to inspire excellence and drive results”. His handbooks, training programs and consulting services are field-tested and used by more than 80,000 organizations and 4 million employees worldwide. His latest program the 100 day challenge has been a best seller helping people from all over the world.