Thursday, June 25, 2009

You get a lot further if you set yourself some goals

NOTE: Anyone interested in taking this course should call Steve Daniels at 506-878-1631. The course is given internationally, so even if you're not in Moncton, give him a call and he can put you in touch with someone who can provide the course near you!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Editorial Page

I certainly don't consider myself old, but I'm also not at an age when I can act like I'm 12 and pretend to have no obligations. Like many of you, I have a mortgage, car, pets, creditors and employers -- including me, if I count myself as self-employed with writing and other ventures.

There's also the issue of retirement, which I have not even begun to plan -- much to the dismay of my banker. Perhaps that's because I don't plan on retiring, maybe? I really can't see myself staying home watching television or playing golf all day (if that's your idea of retirement, that is). I fully plan on working until the day the UFO kidnaps me to use me for some weird alien medical experiments. All I ask is, Mr. Martian, that you please be gentle and at least get me drunk first.

Retirement holds no appeal to me. I've never bought into the "Get a job with a company with a good pension plan..." way of thinking. I seem to be at that age where society is telling me to plan to retire and my mind is not even close to being there yet.

I was never good at setting goals. I'd learned years ago about visualizing what you want in life -- like athletes do. You know, the basketball player who pictures himself in his mind's eye making that crucial basket; the hockey player who imagines himself making goals; or the gymnast who closes her eyes to see herself performing a perfect routine. I knew about writing goals. I've read a ton of books. I just never sat down to put all this knowledge into action. Why? I'm not sure. Fear of failure?

That is, until now. I signed up for a course called Effective Personal Productivity, a 20-week adventure composed of 10 three-hour classes and lots of homework. My employer and I split the cost of the course, which is perfectly fine with me because it will help me as much in my personal business and life goals as it will in my 9-to-5 day job.

We've only had three classes so far, and I've made a complete 360-degree turn on many things I've been doing. I've started some new, positive habits that will serve me well and am learning how to prioritize things in my life. Is watching mindless hours of television really a high payoff activity for me? Is it helping me reach my goals? Is procrastination or a lack of daily planning getting me anywhere? Of course not.

Since beginning this course, I've started to set real, tangible goals, many of which have been floating around in my head for years. For me, writing goals has always been a very powerful exercise. Just putting something you want on paper is enough to get a whole bunch of things moving in the universe in your favour. Most importantly, writing goals gets things moving inside yourself!

While desire without action is worth more than a complete lack of desire, someone who actually wants to put their time and effort into achieving something can do great and wondrous things.

We often hear of people who've set goals and who don't achieve them. Either they're put aside or people get sidetracked.

Figuratively speaking, so many people go out hunting for moose and end up following rabbit tracks for days, months and years on end. Then they wonder why they didn't get what they want in life. Remember: follow the right tracks! The course I'm taking is helping me figure out what tracks I need to follow.

The goal-setting skills I'm learning in this course are ones I wish I had learned 20 years ago when I was just starting off in my career. I wonder how life would have been different? Not that I'm complaining, but you have to wonder. I believe that everything comes to you when you're ready for it, though. Thankfully, I'm ready for it now. And I especially like the accountability part of the process. There's none of this, "Oh I didn't get around to my homework this week. . ." You're looked right in the eye and asked point-blank, "Why didn't you do your homework? Why are you wasting our time?"

Those are powerful questions in a world where we let so many things pass us by. Professionals deal with clients who don't respect their time and arrive late for appointments. And often, the clients arrive on time but it's the professionals who aren't on schedule. There's none of this laissez-faire, namby-pamby stuff in this course. If you've set a goal and haven't worked on it in two weeks, you're asked, "Why not? Is this really something you want to do? Why didn't you respect your goal? Why did you allow someone else to hijack your time?"

They're all fascinating questions for people like me who aren't necessarily used to guarding their time jealously or spending it wisely.

This course is fast becoming a life-changer for me. Just the knowledge of how valuable my time is has made a major difference, as well the emphasis on spending time on what is truly important to you.

My desk is spotless now. The piles are gone. My television viewing is down dramatically. I respect my time more than I ever did -- because once you've lost time, you can never get it back. I'm working on ambitious goals I only dreamed about previously.

The further along I get into this course, the more I realize that every single student in this province should go through this process in high school.

The waywardness and drifting that is so predominant in many young people would disappear fast and the seeds of effective goal-setting and time management would be planted forever. We need to stop wasting our time on stuff that doesn't matter. The world needs us to get things done!


Erika said...

I should take that course... Lately, procastination is becoming more present in my life. I have to change that. Good column Brian... making us think!

Sarah Butland said...

I suggest not thinking about retirement the way others do. I know, as a writer myself, that I will not nor can not retire from my passion hence my retirement involves me doing what I want but not having to do it. I will no longer have to get up and be on someone else's schedule, I'll make my own. It's great right now, don't get me wrong, the structure is something I need right now but retirement is not all bingo's and golf courses - it's whatever you ask the universe for it to be. :)

Paul Melanson said...

If you do a 360 degree turn, doesn't that leave you exactly where you started? :-) A 180 degree turn would be more of a dramatic change. ;-)

Brian Cormier said...

Oh you know what I meant, Paul. LOL ;)

Paul Melanson said...

Interesting article. It would be interesting to hear more about your mindset change and progress after the course is done. [Even if its another venue.]

Brian Cormier said...

Thanks, Paul. I'll likely be writing about it again.