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<>Powerful Goals
by Dr. Beverly Potter
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Powerful Goals Provide A Target
A goal is a target to shoot at.  It is a result toward which effort is directed.  It is an outcome to be achieved.  Usually a goal is a statement of what you want to achieve, but goals can also be unstated and implicit.  Goals focus your efforts because there is a target to shoot for.  They tell you where to shoot and which way to go.

Suppose, for example, you want to practice archery but have no target.  So you shoot into the air, at nothing in particular.  Without the target your learning is likely to be slow and your progress poor.

Besides showing you where to shoot, goals provide immediate feedback, which is important in learning.  Suppose again, while practicing archery you shoot at the target but cannot see where the arrow hits.  Without feedback on your shot, your learning will probably be slow.  Suppose six months after you shoot the arrow, you are told that it hit the second ring.  This delayed feedback will not be of much assistance in helping you improve your shot.

Powerful goals give immediate feedback on your shot, the sooner the feedback, the more powerful because it is from information about your miss that you can correct your next shot.

Powerful Goals Create A Picture
Vaguely defined goals such as "improving communications," "Increasing satisfaction," or "having more fun," for example, are difficult, perhaps impossible to achieve because they don't provide a clear picture of the target—the result you're shooting at.  What does "improved communications" look like? How do you know when you've achieved it?  communications with whom? If you talk about politics with your teenaged son after dinner, is that improved communications?

Vaguely stated goals are frustrating because without a clear picture of the target you can miss hitting it.  Do this a few times and you can feel that you are constantly falling short in life. To be powerful, the target must be clear enough that you can see yourself achieving the goal.

Use Intuition
Using your imagination turns intuition on.  Imagining your goal creates a mental picture of it.  The clearer the picture, and the more magnetic its draw, the better the goal will serve as a target so that you can see what you are shooting for. At the same time your intuition actively works at directing your attention in beneficial ways so that things, information, and people appear as you need them, almost magically, when they were probably their all along and you just didn't notice.

The most that you are able to see yourself achieving the goal, the greater its power.  "Having more fun" can be translated into a specific picture, such as you laughing with friends while playing volleyball at the beach.  You see yourself being in such a scene and try it on to notice how it feels being there.

Be Specific
A specific goal describes what you will be doing when you achieve your goal—when you're in the "goal-state," which is the time in the future when you have achieved the goal.  It is the solution to the problem you are solving, or a milestone you're striving to reach or an end-point in your project, or the achievement of something specific.

Try It On
Ask the question, "What will I be going when I  . . .?" Asking a question activates intuition.  Patiently wait for an image to come to mind.  Your intuition will give information about how the goal fits you.

To be powerful, the goal must be a good fit like a comfortable shoe; otherwise you could be hobble and unable to get anywhere. Notice sensations you experience when you imagine being in the goal-state. If it doesn't feel good, then change the picture until it does feel good.  Experiment to discover what fits you.  Work on the image of the goal-state until you find pictures where you feel energized and "one" with what you're doing.

Powerful Goals Are Magnetic

How your subconscious responds to a goal greatly influences its power.  You need a compelling image to pull you towards the goal; otherwise you must push yourself towards it.  As soon as you push on yourself, resistance emerges.  It's a natural response like putting out your hand when you fear you are about to fall or like your dog resisting when you pull on his collar.

Compelling goals are easier to achieve because they are positive.  For one thing the brain processes positive information faster than negative information, which probably explains why double negatives are so confusing.

Attractive Vs Repulsive Goals
The purpose of a goal is to motivate—to get you moving.  It is easier to get moving when the picture of you in the goal-state is compelling.  Then the goal draws you toward it, like a magnet does.

Thinking of your goal brings its attractive or repulsive properties to mind.  The trick in creating a magnetic goal—a goal that draws you toward it—is in specifying the goal in such a way that the images it brings to mind attract you. Attractive images attract.  They are compelling and draw you to them.  Compelling goals kick in seeking motivation.

A goal like "losing weight by not eating sweets," for example, is negative and contains a hidden suggestion that continually reminds you of what you want to not do—eat sweets. This kicks in avoidance motivation.  Imaging what you will be doing when you have lost weight can discover a positive statement.  For example, it might be "looking good in a size 12 bathing suit."  Seeing yourself looking good in a bathing suit is more compelling, hence more motivating, than imaging not eating sweets.  Your journey towards a smaller waistline is more joyful when you are seeking to wear a size 12, than when you are avoiding eating delicious sweets.

Negative Goals Repel
Goals that contain negative targets are surprisingly common.  Sometimes an authority like a parent or teacher imposed the goal on you.  Other times the goal appears positive but contains hidden negatives.  Negative goals put you in a conflict situation, because success is defined in terms of activities or changes you dislike. You will probably fail to achieve the goal because the picture it elicits repels you.

Some goals sound positive but contain hidden negative images. The artist whose goal is to increase his income but who hates billing clients has a goal with a hidden negative—making higher billings.  The doctor with a goal of creating and implementing eight marketing strategies to increase clientele in her clinic, who finds self-promotion distasteful has a goal with hidden negatives.  Goals such as these are easier to achieve when you find compelling images and restate the goal to elicit that image when you think of the goal.

Powerful Goals Say When

Timelines help you bring the pieces together.  Goals with no specific completion date make it difficult to set a timeline for completing action steps.  Such open-ended goals undermine motivation and encourage procrastination.

Timelines must be realistic if the goal is to be powerful.  Unrealistically short deadlines can trigger panic, provoking the opposite "Why bother?" attitude, and generally generate an oppressive climate.  A deadline that is too short is usually better than no deadline at all.  Unrealistic deadlines usually become apparent quickly, providing you an opportunity to readjust them to a more realistic time frame.

Copyright 2000 by Beverly A. Potter.  From High Performance Goal Setting: Using Intuition to Conceive and Achieve Your Dreams, Dr. Beverly Potter, POB 3008, Oakland CA 94609.  This article may be downloaded for personal use; any other use requires written permission. All rights reserved. Docpotter's site.

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