Do Goals Affect Your Effort?
In a previous article we discussed “How Effort Affects Your Potential”. Today we’ll talk about adding goals to the equation.
Goals are an important part of effort. They will determine what effort we give, when we give it, and how we give it. Our effort is much more effective if we focus it on a single goal or a small group of goals.
Let’s look at the sun’s rays as an example. Sunlight hits the surface of the earth and warms it. If we take that sunlight and focus it through a magnifying glass, that same sunlight will start a fire.
We can apply effort to carry out our potential for a certain effect. But, as with the magnifying glass, if we focus that effort on our goals, we’ll magnify our power and achieve much greater results.
By focusing our effort on the proper goals, we’ll progress more rapidly and achieve results beyond our expectations.
Let’s do an exercise about motivation.
Let’s pretend to go for a nice walk. Take a few minutes and close your eyes and take a walk with me. (Please stop reading and take a virtual walk for a couple of minutes.)
Now that you have finished your walk…think about and write down what went through your mind while on your imaginary walk.
What were you wondering?
- Where am I supposed to be?
- Where am I supposed to be going?
- How long am I supposed to walk?
- What am I supposed to be doing as I walk?
Most people like structure in their lives. They want to know where they’re going, how long it’ll take to get there, and why they’re going somewhere. Unfortunately, having those answers may lead to two problems:
- We may think only in the short term, as it is easier to achieve the certainty that we crave.
- We may listen to what others tell us about how to lead our lives.
Since many people don’t know how to plan their own lives (after all, when were they taught that?), they don’t have a plan and are all too willing to live without long-term goals or to accept what someone else tells them. Notice that the questions that I thought you might have during the imaginary walk all contained “supposed to”. This implies we desired someone to tell us what to do instead of figuring it out for ourselves.
There is a great scene in the movie The Dead Poets Society when the professor takes the students to an outdoor plaza and tells them to walk around; he gives them no other rules or directions. At first everyone is bewildered that they have been told to do something without specific directions and they’re tentative about walking. But slowly, each person starts doing something different. This feels uncomfortable for many students, and they start following the patterns of others rather than their inner selves.
When my students asked me which careers they should choose, I often got the feeling that they didn’t want my opinion to throw in with the other opinions to ponder. Instead, I felt they wanted me to tell them which career to choose and the five steps to get there.
Fortunately for them, I didn’t give them specific answers. I probed to find out what they wanted to do and what they were good at. I asked them what they dreamed of doing if there were no limits in life. Then I would encourage them to follow their dreams even if they thought it was impossible or unlikely that they could.
A plan is a wonderful motivator.
For example, my plan was to write a book. I became completely focused on it. When I read or talked to people, my mind always related ideas back to the book:
- That is a great point! Where could I use it?
- That could be a chapter title!
- That is a great quote!
- I could incorporate that idea into my book.
I taught public speaking because I think that the ability to speak in public is important to success. If I gave my students specific directions, they moaned and groaned but accepted them and asked very few questions. However, if I gave them an assignment for a three-minute speech with no guidelines or no rules to follow, the questions came fast and furious. It wasn’t unusual for a student to approach me on campus outside of class with a question.
It’s human nature to want a certain degree of structure. We are wired that way. That’s one reason we can accomplish more by having goals: they provide us with structure.
We need to make our own plan. We should spend time setting goals as discussed earlier. We must make our own goals and not just accept what someone else tells us. Setting goals may take some time and effort,but it will pay off in the long run. A life lived with purpose will give us a life of significance, and we will enjoy living much more.
This is an excerpt from Bruce’s book “Attitude Determines Destiny”.
As a motivational speaker, he conducts seminars and workshops based upon the ideas in his book. He entertains and inspires audiences wherever he goes.