To get anywhere, you have to know where you want to go. You don’t plan the trip and then decide on a destination at the end. You decide where you are going first, and then work out the best way to get there. If you’re hungry, you don’t get in the car and just drive around, complaining that you are still hungry. You’ll starve before you get anywhere. You get in the car and go get food. Life is exactly the same way. You have to have a specific end in mind before you can know the means to that end.
How many people have you known who were intelligent, talented, personable and hard working, but just couldn’t seem to get anywhere in life? Are you one of those people? The biggest mistake most people make when trying to get ahead in life is simply not having a clear, well defined goal and no specific objectives. They may want to “make more money” or have a “higher quality of life”, but those are too broad to motivate a person or direct their actions effectively. We must have both specific goals and objectives if we want to succeed.
The difference between a goal and an objective is one of breadth. Goals are the ultimate targets we want to reach, while objectives are specific steps that get us there. Both are important. If your goal is to “have more money”, then decide exactly how much you want and when you want to have it. Now you have an objective, and you can begin to concentrate on that. If you internalize it, focus on it, and accept it as not only possible but given, then you will begin to move toward it.
Be generous when setting goals. Don’t be afraid to dream big. In martial arts, students are taught to focus through the target. That way when their strike connects they are still accelerating, instead of slowing down like a train pulling into a station. Even if you miss the goal you’ve aimed at, you will still be in a much better position than you were. And you can always set another goal then. In fact you should. That is how we grow and continue to improve. Success is constant growth. You never “get there.” But it is done in stages, and each of those stages should be a measurable, specific objective. Set it and go get it.