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Goal Setting - The Edge

Goal Setting The EdgeI have always been fascinated with the performance of high jumpers as they soar effortlessly over the bar. What really amazes me is during any one event, the officials keep raising the bar, until the winner of the competition is declared.

Do you think an elite high jumper is able to soar over the bar as it is raised higher and higher during a competition without setting and focusing on specific goals?

I was fortunate to have enjoyed a long and successful career with a Fortune 500 company that stressed goal setting as a key business practice. Goal setting proved to be the edge in not only business but in my personal life as well.

Like the high jumper, you no doubt want to raise the bar with respect to important areas of your life; finances, relationships, family, career, health and fitness, etc… and goal setting can help you get there.

Very Few People Set Goals

In the book, “What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School”, Mark McCormack tells about a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program.

That year, the students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.

And, what about the 3 percent who had clear, written goals and plans to achieve them?

They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

With these kinds of results, why is it that so many do not apply the principles of goal setting on a more routine everyday basis?

What Prevents People From Setting Goals?

One of the main reasons is most do not know how to define what a goal is nor do they understand how to write a specific goal.

It is quite simple. A goal is something that you are striving for. It is the end-result of your actions. You first begin by visualizing what you want (goal) and work back words from the goal describing what you plan to do (actions) to accomplish it.

An example of a possible end-result (goal) of a yearly training plan, involving exercise, mental and emotional preparation, nutrition, etc… could be the completion of a marathon. If you were to visualize this specific end-result, you could state it as follows:

Goal: To achieve the completion of the New York City Marathon in a time of 4 hours, in November of 2012.

Actions: Anything that you plan to do to enable you to accomplish your goal. For example: Run 30 minutes, Mon and Wed; 45 minutes on Thurs at a pace of 8 mi per hour with a 1.5 hr run on Sat at a pace of 10 mi per hr (Week 4 of Training Plan).

You pick a target, figure out what needs to be done in order to hit it and execute the plan. By taking action and sticking to your plan you will accomplish the end result, in this case- finishing the marathon.

Quick Goal Setting Exercise

In future articles, I will touch on why the consistent practice of goal setting provides us with The Edge in life, as well as provide some practical and useful tips on how to write effective goals.

For now, try this quick exercise: take out a sheet of paper and write down something you dream about accomplishing (your goal or end-result). Read it over and over again. Imagine what steps you would have to take to achieve your goal. See yourself accomplishing the goal and feel the difference.

Working backwards from the end result is an easy exercise you can use to dismiss any obstacles that might get in your way.

Here’s to achieving The Edge.

Coach Mike

Click Here and Start Earning Your Beer

The Gift of Change


Change and the Force of Nature

Change and the Forces of NatureIt seems that expressing my thoughts on transformation through change is facilitated somewhat by the fact that I am currently visiting relatives on the coast of Maine. The sights, sounds and smells of the Atlantic Ocean bring a sense of tranquility and relaxation.

It is hard to believe that within minutes the force of nature could change the peaceful landscape. I have experienced the fury and destruction caused by violent thunderstorms, high seas and even lived through a tornado that destroyed numerous cottages that were in its way.

Living on the ocean can be peaceful and yet very unpredictable, as far as the forces of nature go. We always need to be well prepared should nature decide to rear its nasty head and let us city folk feel its incredibly devastating power.

As I reflect more on what I have just expressed, I am fascinated with the idea that life itself is quite similar to the unpredictable forces of nature. From my vantage point, I would have to say that one of the things I love about life, besides “life” itself, is its unpredictability and all that this brings to our lives.

The Unpredictability of Change

One thing for sure is that none of us know what lies ahead. Unlike the weather, there is no technology to predict what is in store for us. And unless we decide to try to improve our lot in life by implementing a specific planned change (i.e. health/exercise program), we’re setting sail without our navigation systems turned on.

What I have come to learn over the years is the only security we truly have is the belief in our unique talents, our capabilities and ourselves. We all have the incredible resilience to make amazing comebacks, no matter the situation. Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually- no challenge cannot be overcome.

Most of us will have ample opportunity to demonstrate a certain amount of courage in our lives. It is at these times whereby we grow immensely as a person, no matter our age. Personal struggle is often seen as an opportunity to change for the better. I have adopted an attitude or mind-set that any change whether it is a loss of a job, a life-threatening illness, a promotion, a job transfer, etc… can be an opportunity for personal growth and development.

There are many books written about adapting to change that outline key steps to take when encountering a new situation. I would like to give you my own perspective on this subject, together with a number of ideas and techniques that I have personally found useful along my journey of adapting to life changing events.

A Gift of Change

I have sought out the services of specialists in change management, been mentored and coached by one of the best in the field and have developed, through trial-and-error, my own techniques. This is why I can say without doubt that change, no matter what the type, should be looked at as the most invaluable “gifts” you will ever receive.

The very next time you encounter any change in your life, take this gift, unwrap it slowly and look for the special benefits that lie within. May I suggest that you be very patient as it sometimes takes days, weeks and even months to realize what the gift actually is. Once you have defined your gift, I recommend that you nurture it for all it is worth and document the benefits to life that gradually unfold over time.

Unfortunately there isn’t a way to escape the need to adapt to change. Whether it happens unexpectedly or is planned, you cannot hide from it. It must be dealt with.

I learned very quickly I had a better chance to capitalize on the benefits of change if I was operating from a position of strength. The process of change itself is an opportunity for personal growth and development. I found that new situations were what I needed to operate out of my comfort zone and grow. Doing this resulted in increased levels of self-esteem and self-confidence. If I had a set back, I learned from my mistakes and kept adapting.

As I reinforced above, the more we believe in ourselves, our unique talents, our special abilities and our competencies- the better the chance we have of benefiting from any forth coming changes.

Choose to Change

Even if the change is one we choose to make, and know is a good change; the transition from the old way to the new way is never easy. This certainly applies to starting up an exercise program. The advantage though is self-initiated changes give us the time to work out a strategy to ensure we gain maximum benefit.

I am sure that for many people, thinking about implementing change in their life as simple as an exercise/health program, can be like standing on the edge of a pool wanting to jump in and go for a swim but waiting for someone to push them in. Fear of the unknown or in this case, the idea of cold water, frequently blocks people from making the change they know will be beneficial in the long run.

Research shows that most successful change happens when the person looking towards potential benefits arising from the planned change initiates it. Do not be the one caught saying, “If only someone had pushed me”, when it may be too late. Jump right in and choose to change.

Below are steps to help initiate change with respect to improving your overall health/fitness (they can be applied to any aspect of life):

1. Recognize and agree upon the need for change. Draft a personal vision of how you want to feel and/or look like, following the completion of all facets of your health and exercise program.

2. Identify key people and resources that you will need to achieve your change.

3. Assess your need to change and your state of personal readiness.

4. State as clearly as possible specific reasons as to why you want to change. Describe what you want to change.

5. Set clear priorities and develop objectives and measurements for success.

6. Brainstorm what is actually stopping you from implementing your exercise program and evaluate each one as to whether or not they are real or merely imagined.

7. Describe what you know you could do, either on your own or with the encouragement and support of others i.e. personal trainer, clubs, Internet programs, websites, etc…

8. Make a personal commitment to take action.

9. Create a plan to ensure that your change is embedded and maintained.

10. Implement the change plan, celebrate successes and modify if need be.


The only way to ensure growth; both personally and professionally is to initiate change at opportune times in our life. Yes, the type and timing of change is relevant to any potential successes that may result from our efforts but regardless of whether we choose or it is chosen for us, we must embrace it. The only real security we have in today’s fast and ever changing world is the belief in ourselves, the belief we can do anything and be anything, no matter what life throws at us.

Keep changing, improving and do not settle for mediocrity. Change is a gift to be unwrapped, nurtured and implemented into our lives. Opportunities come to those who accept and adopt to change. Those that sit around, wait and complain will be left behind.

To your success,

Coach Mike

Click Here and Start Earning Your Beer

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