If you’re not a fan of football (or soccer as it’s usually called in North America) you may not realise what the title of this post refers to. It’s the word “goal” screamed at top volume by a South American commentator when someone scores a goal, and it’s intended to last as long as possible. Try it – it’s a lung buster. The World Cup is being held in South Africa this summer, so there will be plenty of opportunities to hear these guys in action. (If this is new to you check out the video at the bottom of this post.)

So what’s this got to do with anything? Well it’s about your goals, and you need to set some.

Why though? Well if you want to get somewhere you need to know where you want to go. In football the players can see the goal and they take actions to get them closer to it so they can score. In life we need to know what the goals are so we can take actions to move towards them.

Written goals do the trick

There’s a famous study that was conducted at Harvard University in the 1970s, which looked at the effects of goal setting. When students were asked about their goals in life, only 3% had written goals and plans, 13% had clear goals and plans but had not written them down and 84% had no specific goals or plans at all. Ten years later the researchers caught up with these same students and interviewed them again. Amazingly, the 13% who had clear but unwritten goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no clear goals.  The really incredible part, though, is that the 3% who had written down their goals and plans were earning, on average, ten times as much as as the other 97% put together. You may already know about this study but it does emphasise the importance of having clear goals and plans and writing them down.

Imagine the actions you will take

Okay, so having goals and writing them down is important. But what about carrying out the actions that will move us towards out goals? We have all not followed through on those in the past haven’t we? Fortunately, help is at hand. In “Switch” by Chip & Dan Heath (I do seem to like that book, don’t I?), they have some suggestions for ways to follow through with our plans more effectively. They suggest using “Action Triggers”, which involves imagining the time and the place where you will take your action. This has been shown to motivate people to actually do the things they need to. For example, if one of your goals was to lose weight and one of the actions was to go out for a run, then  imagining the time you will go for your run and where you will run will make it more likely that you will do the exercise, which will move you closer to your weight loss goal.

Let’s get started

So what to do first? Decide what you want to achieve and write down your goals in detail. Don’t worry too much about how you will achieve them initially, just write them down. Then write down the actions you need to take to move towards your goals. Remember to imagine when and how the actions will be taken, which will make it more likely that you will carry them out. We’ll talk about using all your senses to imagine your goals and whether those goals are right for you in another post. For now just write them down and imagine when and where you will take the actions that will move you towards them.

A great example of a goal shout! World Cup final 2006.

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