Discovery, pursuance and achievement of set goals, by Prof. Olowofela

By Adeniyi Olowofela

My grandfather used to say: “If you look at a tree long enough, it will move.” We see what we want to see. Psychologists tell us that nothing controls our lives more than our self-image. We live like the person we see in the mirror. We are what we think we are. If you don’t think you will be successful, you will not. You can not be it if you can not see it. Your life is limited to your vision. If you want to change your life, you must change your vision of your life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an actor who has appeared in over 30 films such as; The Terminator, Commando, The Running Man, Governor of Califonia, Total Recall amongst others; but he was not that famous in 1976 when he met with a newspaper reporter. The reporter asked Schwarzenegger.”Now that you’ve retired from bodybuilding, what do you plan to do next?” Schwarzenegger answered very calmly and confidently, ” I am going to be the No.1 movie star in Hollywood.” (Meaning he has a GOAL)

The reporter was shocked and amused at Schwarzenegger’s plan. At that time, it was very hard to imagine how this muscle-bound body builder, who was not a professional actor and who spoke poor English with a strong Austrian accent, could ever hope to be Hollywood’s No.1 movie star! The reporter asked Schwarzenegger how he planned to make his dream come true, Schwarzenegger said: ” I will do it the same way I became the No.1 body builder in the world. What I do is to set a goal on whom I want to be, then I start living like that person in my mind as if it were already true.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that sounds almost childishly simple, doesn’t it? But it worked! Schwarzenegger DID become the No.1 highest paid movie star in Hollywood! Remember: ” If you can see it, you can be it.” So, I admonish you to start seeing something great now. What do you intend to do to live a successful life? What do you want to become later in life? How do you intend to pursue those goals? See it now and you shall be it.

A successful businessman I know wears a shirt with these words on it. “Don’t just pursue your dreams. Chase them down and tackle them!” You only get one life to live, so why not live the best life possible?

Distinguished guests, study after study has revealed that the ability to set goals and make plans for their accomplishment is the “master skill” of success. It is the single most important skill that you can learn and perfect. Becoming an expert at goal-setting and goal-achieving is something that you absolutely must do if you wish to fulfill your potential as a human being.
Why do so few people set goals?
According to the best research, less than three percent of Americans have written goals, and less than one percent review and rewrite their goals on a daily basis. So the reasons why people do not set goals have been of considerable interest to me. I think that there are five basic reasons why people do not set goals.
The first reason is that they are simply not serious. Whenever I speak with a man or woman who has achieved something remarkable, I learn that the achievement occurred after that person had decided to “get serious.” Until you become completely serious and totally determined about your goals, nothing really happens.
The second reason why people do not set goals is that they do not understand the importance of goals. We find that young men and women who begin to set goals very early in life invariably come from families in which the importance of goals is emphasized. The discussion that takes place around your family dinner table is one of the most powerful formative influences in your life. If your parents didn’t have goals, didn’t talk about goals, did not encourage you to set goals, and did not talk about people outside the family circle who had goals and were moving toward a higher level of achievements, then, you are very likely to grow up with the idea that goals are not even a part of normal existence. This is the case for most people.
The third reason why people don’t set goals is because they don’t know how to do it. One of the greatest tragedies of our educational system is that you can receive 15 to 18 years of education in our schools and never once receive a single hour of instruction on how to set goals.
Yet we find that in certain schools where goal-setting programs are introduced early enough, young people become excited about goal-setting – even if the goal is only to increase the scores by 5 or 10 percent over the course of the academic term, or to be on time everyday in the course of a month. Children become so excited about achieving goals that by the third or fourth year, they love to go to school. They get the best grades. They are seldom absent. They are excited about themselves and about their lives.
To this end, schools are advised to set up guidance counseling units and at the same time give occasional career-talks to the students; this is to encourage them to set worthwhile and realistic goals from an early age.
Many people hold back from setting worthwhile goals because they have found that every time they set a goal, somebody steps up and tells them that they cannot achieve it, or that they will lose their money or waste their time. Because each of us is strongly influenced by the opinions of those around us, one of the first things that you must learn when you begin setting goals is to keep your goals confidential. Don’t tell anyone about them. Often, it is the fear of criticism that, more than any other single factor, stops you from goal-setting in the first place. So keep your goals to yourself, with one exception. Share your goals only with others who are committed to achieving goals of their own and who really want you to be successful and achieve your goals as well. Other than that, do not tell anybody about your goals, No one is in a position to criticize you, or to discourage you from setting your goals.
The fifth reason why people do not set goals – and perhaps the most important reason of all – is the fear of failure. People do not set goals because they are afraid that they might fail. In fact, the fear of failure is probably the greatest single obstacle to success in adult life. It can hold you back more than any other psychological problem. The primary reason why you fear failure is simply this: You probably do not understand the role that failure plays in achievement. The fact is that it is impossible to succeed without failing. Failure is an indispensable prerequisite for success, a means to make us do it well and better.
All great success is preceded by great failure. If you wish to fulfill your potential, you have to be willing to risk failure over and over and over, because there is no way that you can ever accomplish worthwhile goals until you have fallen on your face so many times that you have eventually learned the lessons that you need to move forward for a great achievement. In doing a research for his classic book “The Law of Success”, Napoleon Hill interviewed more than 500 of the most successful men and women in America. All of them admitted to him that they had achieved their greatest successes just one step beyond the point where they had experienced their greatest failures.
A key to succeeding through goal-setting is expecting temporary setbacks and obstacles inevitable parts of the goal-achieving process.
1. Have a desire:
Desire is the key to motivation, but it is means to determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence that will enable you attain the success you seek. What is that one thing that you truly desire? That one thing that makes you excited, keeps you up at night, makes you feel butterflies in your stomach?
This is not the moment to be logical and think what you should want in your life. Put your logic aside and listen to your heart. Allow yourself to desire whatever you want. You know the saying “think big” ?
Well, desire big, as well! To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.
2. Belief:
Believe in yourself ! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. You have to absolutely believe you can achieve your goal. If you start by doubting your possibilities that one thing will happen for sure – you will fail. It has been even proven by scientist and it is called a self-fulfilling prophecy: what you expect, eventually manifest itself in your reality.
On the contrary, if you really believe you can do it , you will start seeing all the possibilities to make it happen. You will have more courage and energy to chase your dreams. It is not always easy to have that kind of faith. We have all failed more than once and we fear that we can fail again.
Believe in yourself, listen to your gut, take on challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears and you will perform wonders.
3. Set small goals:
Set small goals for yourself; you can see and enjoy your small successes. Slowly, increase your goals. The worst thing you can do is set a too big goal, something unrealistic. You almost force yourself to fail and prove to yourself that you are not strong enough. So start small. Build your faith and courage.
4. Write it down:
There is something magical about writing things down. Psychologists have proven that we become more committed to what we write down than what we say. Thus, write down your goals.
There is a 3P formula for writing down your goals: use Present, Positive and Personal statement. That means that if your goal is to earn N500,000 by the end of the year, you should write: I earn N500,000 by the end of this year. You use verbs in present tense, you use positive language (write what you want, not what you do not want) and you write in 1st person singular provision.
5. Analyze your starting point:
You know where you want to get. Analyzing where you are now allows you to understand what you will need to do. If your goal is to become a Medical Doctor, then, you need to know your current UTME scores to know how to plan for the next one and plan for it accordingly.
Be honest with yourself. This is not the moment to allow your ego to sabotage your efforts. Whatever your goal is, do a thorough analysis of your strengths and weaknesses in this area with a view to setting and reacting your goal
6. Determine why you want to excel in this area:
Knowing why you want to achieve a particular goal will help you stay focused on it in moments of difficulties and doubt. Usually when we start working on a new project, we are very excited and super motivated. But those feelings do not last forever. They usually come and go. Take some time to write down at least 5 reasons why you want to achieve your goal.
How will your life improve once you get it? Make a list (yes, write it down!) and keep it always available to you.
7. Set a deadline:
Setting deadlines for your goals is one of the main rules for achieving them. Having a deadline helps you in two ways. Firstly, it allows you to plan . You start by deciding when you want to achieve your goal, and plan backwards. This way you will know how much you need to work on your goal every month, every week and every day.
Secondly, it adds a pressure. Humans are lazy by nature. Setting deadlines adds a pressure that motivates us to work.
Think of any assignment you have to do at work or in the university. Do not ever procrastinate on it until a deadline comes and when you have no other choice but to do it? Your deadline is your best guess about when the goal should be achieved.
Do not worry so much about not meeting it. In some cases, you may not, But it does not mean you failed. Deadlines are there to help us achieve our goals, but by no means are they determinants of our success. Once you know a deadline for your goal, set deadlines for all the steps you will need to accomplish beforehand.
8. Identify the obstacles:
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. I can guarantee that you will encounter difficulties on your way to achieving your desired outcome. But don’t let that discourage you.
Everybody who has achieved great goals in his life, had to overcome some kind of obstacles.
Think of what could be an obstacle for you. Knowing what the worst case scenario can be, allows you to be prepared; if the obstacle does appear (though it does not always have to), you will know exactly what to do.
Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: it is this that distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.
9. Determine the additional knowledge and skill you need:
You have a goal. Now ask yourself why is it that this goals is not yet a reality? You probably need to get some new skills and knowledge to achieve it. identify them. Understand what new skills you need to pick to become an expert in the field and to help you get where you want. Create a list of books, events and courses you will need to take to get there. This is how you work on that 80% of obstacles – the part that lies within us.
10. Determine the people you will need/Get the right team:
At more than one time you will need help from somebody. Identify key people for your success. Who can teach you what you need to know and help you stay focused and motivated. Goals are better achieved in a team that shares the same vision and dream.
Once you have that list, start working on relationships with these people. Offer then your help first. Do not expect them to help you if you are not willing to do the same for them. Be genuine and honest. Don’t use anybody for your goals, but create real relationships beneficial for both of you. Do not hesitate, but have the courage to do away with a working partner that does not share your dream. He may be a cog and may make you lose focus.
11. Make a plan:
What does not get planned, does not get done. Having a plan for achieving your goal is essential to your success. Without it, how will you know what to work on? We have limited resources (like time and energy) and you need to make sure you put them to the right use. Make a plan. This is your roadmap.
But stay flexible. Observe how the environment changes. You might need to adjust your plan more than once. Be open for it. Planning itself is a part of your success. Make sure you always remember the maxim “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.
12. Periodical review of the plan:
This is very important for you to achieve your goals; unfortunately, we often ignore this aspect. Periodical review of your plan is a great tool to give you the assurance that your plan is on the right course. And its powers are almost limitless. Create a habit of visualizing what you want. If you want to keep fit, see yourself with the body of your dreams. If you want to have your own business, picture yourself as a successful businessman. By doing so you activate your subconscious, or your supermind .
Here is how the magic works. Your external (the world you live in) is a reflection of your internal (your imagination, beliefs). If you want to change the external, you need to first change the internal. In an almost magical way you will see how the world changes to fit your (internal) dream.
13. Goal Getting Template:
Design your goal getting constitution and be faithful in adhering to its contents. Have self review of your disposition to your vision and mission and forge ahead as you must have trashed out your likely challenges and the way to address them.
This is best done when you know your potentials and the benefits derivable from the set goal; and marry the two together to set a template that consists mostly the challenges and the way to removing them on your fast lane to achieve your goal.
14. Never give up:
The key to achieving your goal is persistence. No matter how much talent you have, if you do not persist, you might just give up right before your big breakthrough. Do not let any failures discourage you. Once you decide you want to achieve a goal, make a decision to never ever give up.
Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not clichés but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path.
Boys and girls, the market is over; the buyers and sellers are already on their way home. The coming morning of the new dawn will open new lives for you in other higher institutions of learning or other experiences of life. May the Lord be with you till we come across one another again.
I wish you all the very best as you sail through the ocean of life.


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