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Understanding Goals & How They Work
By Jason Womack

Understanding Goals & How They Work - By Jason Womack

You can experience anything you want. Goals, dreams, and wishes do come true. But first, you need to see the outcome – and believe it.

When you read the previous paragraph, did you think to yourself, "Yeah, right... What does this guy know?" We all experience this type of "self-talk", and its impact may be more significant than you think.

Self-talk is the inner dialog you have about the outside world and how it relates to you. Studies suggest that up to 70% of our self-talk is negative, and this actively undermines our natural abilities. Researchers have studied the effects of self-talk, anxiety, and outcome-based performance, and their correlation is staggeringly simple. Positive self-talk corresponds to quicker healing, more successful experiences, and lower anxiety. Negative self-talk has the opposite effect.

How is your self-talk serving you? Are you beginning with negative or positive results in mind? Maintaining a positive focus is actually a learnable skill. Paired with other professional skills, such as goal setting, these techniques can create an advantage that will help you to achieve desired outcomes more quickly and with less effort.

Goal Setting: Where to Begin
Often misunderstood and even put off until some formal event such as an annual performance review requires it, goal setting is actually a simple and very important process. By establishing specific goals, you’re setting yourself on the path towards achieving your desired outcome. The next step is to develop an action plan which you will then adjust along the way. Identifying goals and achieving them is really about creating directed intent.

How do you achieve this? Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

What is most important to you?

Where would you like to direct your time, focus and resources over the next year?

Consider the following areas:

  • Financial abundance
  • Professional development
  • Family relationships
  • Career enhancement
  • Community involvement
  • Health, body, and fitness
  • Recreation and relaxation

Develop a minimum of one specific goal for each of these general focus areas. By describing your ideal scene in vivid detail for each area, you'll be laying the groundwork to notice opportunities when they arise. You will also identify a future that looks much different than today.

The Psychology of Goal Setting
The benefits of goal setting extend beyond establishing a "finish line" for you to cross. Setting goals also helps to develop two essential skills:

1. It engages and focuses your creativity.
2. It enhances your awareness when it comes to new opportunities.

When you clearly identify what you want, you'll get there faster. Here's an example to illustrate this phenomenon:

As you're reading this, look around for anything that is the color red. (Be sure to look all around - in front, behind, below, and to the side.) Quick, how many sources of the color red are there? Now, finish reading this sentence: Without looking away from the screen, try to remember where all of the things are in the room that are blue. Now, close your eyes and do it from memory...

In doing this, you will have closed your eyes and tried to "see" through all the red in your memory, working hard to remember the blue. Did you notice that some of the blue - maybe something blue right in front of you - was left out? Why? You were only focused on red!

Now imagine focusing your awareness on enhancing specific areas of your life. Instead of focusing on what you lack, focus on the details of what you want in your life. (This is the blue in the room.) Let go of all the "Yeah, but... " reasons that may come up when you imagine what you'd like. Keep focusing on the positive in descriptive detail.

Goal setting also enhances our awareness of new opportunities. It heightens our senses, and our world seems to respond by providing new information. Or, perhaps the information was always there, and we just hadn't noticed it yet. Regardless, this new awareness helps us to edge closer to our goals.

I lead people through the following activity in many of my seminars:

Get a blank piece of paper and a pen. Now, pull out a $1 bill. Take a good look at the front. Then, on the piece of paper, make a list of everything you know is on the reverse side of the bill. Don't turn it over to look yet! Spend about a minute on your list...

Did you notice that even though you have SEEN the back of a $1 bill, you might not REMEMBER everything there? In fact, if you look carefully (go ahead, look at the back), you will find things you have NEVER EVEN SEEN until just now.

This really captures much of the essence of goal setting. If you think you've seen everything about a project you are managing, stop and reconsider new perspectives. Look at the backside; raise your perspective; initiate a new way to focus on it; find something you have never seen before — and use it to your advantage.

What would you like to experience over the next year? Write down some goals in your calendar, on this exact date, one year from today. Through effective and deliberate goal setting, you will achieve all of this and more.

Goals, dreams, and wishes do come true! Direct your focus towards something, and it will happen. And let me know in a year how it went!

Jason W. Womack, M.A., M. Ed., envisions himself as an award winning age-group triathlete who also fulfills his lifelong goal of being an expert speaker on the topics of realizing potential, maximizing productivity, and achieving a balanced lifestyle. Visit his current views on these topics at and share your successes at

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