Simple Ways to Effective Goal Achievement
Excerpt from How to Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds
by Dr. Robert C. Worstell from notes on the talks of Earl Nightingale
The $25,000 Idea
Now how do we separate the important tasks from the unimportant?
Did you ever hear of the single idea for which a man was paid $25,000? And it was worth every penny of it.
The story goes that the president of a big steel company had granted an interview to an efficiency expert named Ivy Lee. Lee was telling his prospective client how he could help him do a better job of managing the company, when the president broke in to say something to the effect that he wasn’t at present managing as well as he knew how.
He went on to tell Ivy Lee that what was needed wasn’t more knowing but a lot more doing. He said, “We know what we should be doing. Now if you can show us a better way of getting it done, I’ll listen to you and pay you anything within reason you ask.”
Well, Lee then said that he could give him something in 20 minutes that would increase his efficiency by at least 50 percent.
He then handed the executive a blank sheet of paper and said, “Write down on this paper the six most important things you have to do tomorrow.” Well, the executive thought about it and did as requested. It took him about three or four minutes.
“Now number those items in the order of their importance to you or to the company.” Well, that took another three or four or five minutes.
“Now put the paper in your pocket. And the first thing tomorrow morning take it out and look at item number one. Don’t look at the others, just number one, and start working on it. And if you can, stay with it until it’s completed. Then take item number two the same way, then number three, and so on, till you have to quit for the day.
“Don’t worry if you’ve only finished one or two; the others can wait. If you can’t finish them all by this method, you could not have finished them with any other method. And without some system, you’d probably take 10 times as long to finish them and might not even have them in the order of their importance.
“Do this every working day,” Lee went on. “After you’ve convinced yourself of the value of this system, have your people try it. Try it as long as you like. And then send me your check for whatever you think the idea is worth.”
The entire interview hadn’t taken more than a half-hour. In a few weeks the story has it that the company president sent Ivy Lee a check for $25,000 with a letter saying the lesson was the most profitable, from a money standpoint, he’d ever learned in his life.
And it was later said that in five years this was the plan that was largely responsible for turning what was then a little-known steel company into one of the biggest independent steel producers in the world. One idea, the idea of taking things one at a time in their proper order. Of staying with one task until it’s successfully completed before going on to the next.
For the next seven days try the $25,000 idea in your life.
Tonight write down the six most important things you have to do.
Then number them in the order of their importance.
And tomorrow morning, go to work on number one. Stay with it till it’s successfully completed, then move on to number two, and so on.
When you’ve finished with all six, get another piece of paper and repeat the process.
You’ll be astonished and delighted at the order it brings into your life and at the rate of speed with which you’ll be able to accomplish the things that need doing in the order of their importance. This simple but tremendously effective method will take all the confusion out of your life. You’ll never find yourself running around in circles wondering what to do next.
The reason for writing down what you consider only the most important things to do is obvious. Handling each task during the day successfully is important to the degree of the importance of the tasks themselves.
Doing a lot of unnecessary things successfully can be pretty much a waste of time. Make certain that the tasks you take the time to do efficiently are important tasks, tasks that move you ahead steadily toward your goal.
Remember that you need not worry about tomorrow or the next day or what’s going to happen at the end of the month. One day at a time, handled successfully, will carry you over every hurdle. It will solve every problem.
You can relax in the happy knowledge that successful tasks make successful days, which in turn build a successful life.
This is the kind of unassailable logic no one can argue with.
It will work every time for every person.
Is Your Destination Clear?
People can have anything they want. The trouble is that they don’t know what they want. The person who knows what they want knows what they must become, and they then fix their attention on the preparation of themselves toward that end.
Have you ever noticed that ships operate essentially the same way people ought to, but so few do? Maybe you’ve never given it much thought, but at any given moment, a ship has a direction and a destination. That is, either she’s sailing to a predetermined port of call, or she’s in port, getting ready to sail to another one. You can ask the captain of any big, far-sailing ship where they’re going, and they can tell you instantly -and in one sentence.
How many people do you know who can do the same thing? It seems that most people want too many different things – or at least they think they want them – they’re unable to focus their efforts, their minds, and their hearts on anything specific. And all this leads to is doubt and confusion.
They’re like the guy who jumped on a horse and rode off in all directions at once. They don’t recognize how vital it is to pick one port that’s important, then sail to it, rest and refit for a little while, and then sail to another port.
In this way, in not so many years, a person can set and reach their goals, one by one, until finally they have a tremendous pile of accomplishments in which to take pride – they have all the things they want, just because they had the sense enough to realize they could do well with only one thing at a time.
There’s another analogy that fits here, and maybe it makes the most important point of all. If a ship tied to a dock for some reason had no place to go, she would stay there until she fell apart from rust and disuse. A ship’s engine isn’t started until she has some place to go. Here again, it’s the same with people.
This is why it’s so important that each of us has a port of call we want to reach – a goal – a place to get to where we feel will be better than the place in which we now find ourselves.
If we don’t, we might never cast off. We might never start our engines and know the thrill of sailing a charted course to a place we can’t see for fully 99 percent of the journey. But we know it’s there, and we know that if we keep sailing toward it, we’ll reach it.
If someone came up to you today and asked you what your next port of call is – that is, where you are going – could you answer him in one sentence, as could the captain on the bridge of their ship? If not, maybe you’d like to give that some thought.
A clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Ari Kiev writes, “In my practice as a psychiatrist, I have found that helping people to develop personal goals has proven to be the most effective way to help them cope with problems. Observing the lives of people who have mastered adversity, I have noticed,” he writes, “that they have established goals and sought with all their effort to achieve them. From the moment they decided to concentrate all their energies on a specific objective, they began to surmount the most difficult odds.”
So writes Dr. Kiev in his book, A Strategy for Daily Living, “The establishment of a goal is the key to successful living. And the most important step toward achieving an objective is first to define it.”
- I’m sure you have at least 30 minutes a day in which to list your thoughts about possible goals.
- Set aside such a period each day for a month.
- At the end of the time, choose from the possible objectives you have listed, the one that seems most important, and record it separately on a single card.
- Carry this card with you at all times.
- Think about this objective every day.
- Create concrete mental images of the goal, as if you’ve already accomplished it.
The doctor points out, “You can determine your special talents or strengths in a number of ways, ranging from psychological tests to any analysis of the unexpressed wishes in your dreams. No one method works for everyone.”
- You might start, for example, by clipping and saving magazine and newspaper articles that interest you for 30 days.
- After which, look for the pervasive trend or trends suggestive of your deep-seated interests and natural strengths.
- Whenever you discover a strength or talent, think of five possible ways to develop it.
- Write these strengths down on your card as well, and check it periodically to keep them fresh in your mind.
- If possible, have your card laminated and place it on your bathroom mirror so that it is the first and last thoughts of your day.
- Then focus your day’s energy on this goal and on activities that utilize these natural strengths.
Dr. Kiev continues, “Focus on one objective at a time. Like a microchip, the brain, set on a target, will call into play those mental processes that will bring your efforts to fruition. Your actions will conform to your expectations, thereby bringing about the event. If you believe that you will reach your objective, you will continue to work at a task until you have accomplished it.”
So, take the advice of the psychiatrist Dr. Ari Kiev and don’t be afraid of failure. As Herodotus wrote, “It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what may happen.”
Sit down and make a list of everything you want in life. When you do this, you will make some surprising discoveries. You might find that you have already managed to get many of the things you have wanted seriously. Or, if you don’t have most or all of them, chances are you are now in the process of getting them.
If your list contains some items you want very much but do not have, you might ask yourself why you have failed to get them. Chances are that you have not tried very hard. Or perhaps you felt, for one reason or another, that these things are completely beyond your ability to achieve. These wants make very worthwhile goals.
It’s a good idea to have two lists of things you want.
- The first list would include those bigger goals that relate to your career or the overall good of your life or your family. These might include the position and/or income you are working toward, perhaps a higher educational degree, a certain amount of money in savings, a goal of height of business success, or that beautiful home you have had your eye on.
- The other list could be a fun list. It might include the car you want for no good reason except it’s the car you happen to want, redecorating your house, getting new furniture, traveling to some special place – perhaps abroad – or buying a new wardrobe. This is a list of things you want just because you want them.
You should have long-range goals. These should be on your number one list, and each of them should be numbered in the order of importance to you. These are goals that might take five years or longer to achieve. They’re extremely worthwhile, and you should be working toward them daily. These are the goals that give meaning and direction and substance to your life.
But you also need short-range goals. These are the goals that add zest and interest to your life and break up the monotony of the long haul for the long-range goals.
If you’re honest with yourself about the things you want – not idle wishes that change from day to day but things you are serious about – you’ll find that they all can be yours, and in a surprisingly short time, if they are taken one at a time.
It’s been said, “People can have anything they want. The trouble is that they don’t know what they want.” Get off by yourself for a quiet hour or two, and make up your card and your two lists. It is a fun and rewarding exercise and will prove to be the first step toward living the life you most desire.
The great historical philosophers, teachers and prophets all agreed…
Do you appreciate the life you have fashioned for yourself?
When was the last time you assessed your long-term goals?
Are you prepared to create new goals after you have accomplished your current goals?
– – – –
A man hunting tigers in India was suddenly surprised by a huge Bengal tiger -it was almost on top of him. The man raised his rifle and fired, but he overshot and missed. The tiger, frightened by the man and thrown off stride by the noise of the gun, leaped toward the hunter but the leap was too wide, and he missed his prey.
The man returned to camp and spent several hours perfecting his aim for short distances and quick firing. On the following day, he again stalked the tiger. Finally, he spotted the beast at some distance – practicing short leaps.
What are your goals?
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