Goal Setting And Conventional Wisdom

Copyright (c) 2010 Willie Horton

I recently came across an article in relation to goal setting that suggested that you should only set goals that are obtainable, you should share your goals with your friends (so that they can hold you accountable) and you should set a time limit for the achievement of your goal. This is what might be described as conventional wisdom.

As a complete aside, I discovered this article in a link to a site that describes itself in the following terms “Insightful Writers, Informed Readers”. Yes, I’d just received an automatically generated email from this font of wisdom – Suite101.com for anyone who wants to waste half an hour on the internet (it’s actually just a Google Adsense website) – telling me that I was not acceptable to them as a writer (I’ve been doing this since 1986, have written for national and international newspapers and periodicals and I’m a published author) – and that I should use correct English and proper grammar! The goal setting article started off with the following sentence: “Goal setting is an important skill that not every can master”!!!! That was the first of four mistakes in seven sentences.

But back to conventional wisdom. I’ve news for you, there’s no such thing! In fact “conventional wisdom” is an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms. Conventional means normal – just as “convention” is synonymous with “norm” – and, as decades of research point out, normal people have lost the plot – their pre-programmed, backward looking, negatively skewed mind controls them, not the other way around. If you’re not in control of your own mind, you’re crazy. So it is simply not possible to find conventional wisdom.

Now, to the specifics of goal setting. The “factual” article (I was also told by Suite101 that my articles should only stick to facts) stated that if you set an outlandish goal, you will fail. It’s seven o’clock in the morning here and I’ve already thought of hundreds of people who set themselves outlandish goals and succeeded. Many of them we’d all know – like Gandhi, Barack Obama, Mother Teresa, Joey Starr (that’s for my French readers!), Sir Richard Branson. Many of them simply live their ordinary lives extra-ordinarily (take a look at the book Flow by the University of Chicago’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), many of them are known to me personally as my clients.

Your goals have to be big and bold. Your subconscious mind never got over childhood, it’s childlike, it needs to be excited. Otherwise, this part of your mind that dictates your life will not give your goals the necessary mental energy to bring it about. Your subconscious needs to believe – and, it may come as news to you, all the beliefs that you hold dear are nothing more than visual images etched on your subconscious mind. In setting goals, you need to do a little etching of your own. Once the subconscious mind believes, the goal will be achieved (unless, of course, you keep reading nonsense that tells you that you can only achieve obtainable goals).

Share your goals with nobody, unless you have someone so close to you that you implicitly trust them. Many acquaintances – all normal, crazy people – will look sideways at you if your goals are abnormal or perceived to be unobtainable by these normal, crazy people. Achieving big and exciting goals calls for a single-minded approach, a focused mind – the last thing you need is to share your goal with someone who will rubbish it. Bear in mind, that normal people will rubbish other people’s goals not just because they might think that they’re unrealistic (by normal standards) but because they probably won’t want you to succeed, to be abnormal, to make them feel uncomfortable or, in some bizarre way, more of a failure than the average normal person already is.

“Conventional wisdom” (or, at least, the article I read) states that goals should be time-bound and that you should write out the milestones that you will have to achieve along the way. Rubbish! Your subconscious mind only understands now – it thinks the past pictures that it’s focused on are happening now, it thinks that what it perceives now is now (that may not actually be the case) and has no concept of time, space or future – that’s why the vast majority of indigenous tribes’ languages only had a present tense. Tell your subconscious that you want to achieve something in five years (the old, stupid, normal question “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?) and you’ve messed up the intervening 1,826 days! I’ve seen goals (outlandish ones) achieved in hours – so have a good number of my clients.

And you don’t map out the route that you need to take to your goal. Have you got to where you are in life by following a plan? Or have the best things in life just happened – by what normal people might term coincidence? I have loads of anecdotes that tell of people who think they know how to get what they want and end up trying to push an immoveable boulder up a hill when, if they simple got out of the way, the boulder would naturally go to where it best fits! The normal person (you and I, because that’s our daily default state of mind) hasn’t got the first clue on how best to achieve what they want – how could we, we’re normal, we’re crazy.

What we have to do, however, is deliberately daily set aside a little time to develop our innate ability for clarity of mind – it may only come to us in flashes – but it is in those lucid moments that the great things in our life simply happen.


About the Author:
Willie Horton enables his clients live their dream – since he launched his acclaimed Personal Development Seminars in 1996. His clients include major corporations: Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S & Allergan. An Irishman, he lives in the French Alps and travels the world as a much sought after speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net home to his Online Personal Development Seminars, Change Your Life & No More Stress
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