Setting Goals



“First say what you would like to be, and then do what you have to do.” –Epictetus

In the pursuit of excellence and success, there are many days full of tears, sweat and grueling work to be accomplished. While the long-term goal of reaching the finish line does bring energy and drive, small daily goals are just as important. They keep the drive alive so the finish line becomes a reality. This is the process of setting meaningful goals.

When sports fans watch the NFL draft each year, they witness new athletic talent entering the NFL. It is a glamorous event where the nation’s most acclaimed football coaches and players welcome rookie athletes to be part of their famous family. Why do sports fans love watching it so much? Why do the athletes and their families show intense emotion as they hold up their new team’s jersey? It is because their hard work and determination have been rewarded and recognized. Those men did not just say they were going to be a top pick in the NFL draft; they worked to get there. They set meaningful goals through high school and college. They suffered through injuries and losses, and they did what they had to do in order to be candidates for the NFL. In the wise words of Epictetus, “First say what you would like to be, and then do what you have to do.” Just like the NFL draft, no worthwhile goal is accomplished without hard work and setting goals each and every day to make the finish line a realistic challenge.

“Goal setting doesn’t provide all the answers, but when used properly, it certainly does nudge you in the direction you want to go.”

Here are three truths about setting goals and the process of accomplishing them, one goal at a time.

1.)   Setting and Pursuing Goals

The key is to focus on little goals that are within your control. If you look too far ahead into the future, you will feel stuck trying to accomplish a long-term goal that is out of reach. When you feel out of control, anxiety and frustration can take over and rule your life. Instead of looking toward the long-term goal, set everyday goals for yourself. Everyday goals are encouraging and an enjoyment because once you achieve each short-term goal, you are one step closer to the finish line. When you pursue meaningful goals that are realistic, it can help you explore and embrace your own potential.

2.)   Excellence depends on:

  • Having a vision: You, personally, decide where you want to go.
  • Commitment: You must decide if you truly want to go through the hard work to get there.
  • Believing in your capacity: How confident you are in yourself that you will cross the finish line.
  • Focus Connection: Connecting with the step in front of you.

3.)   Goals set clash with goals met

The process of setting goals and then following through with the strenuous work is not an easy task. The journey will not be easy, there will be highs and there will be lows. It is important to remember that you will not see drastic improvement right away, but that does not mean progress is absent. Each time you give your all you are laying groundwork for future improvement.

These three truths are not a secret formula on how to achieve success without failure. If you do fall short of a particular goal, learn from it and adjust your goal. No matter what, DO NOT GIVE UP. The ups and downs are all a part of the path of excellence.

About the Quote:

Epictetus was a Roman Philosopher who taught that philosophy was a way of life, not just a theoretical study. He believed that all of life’s events were determined by fate, and, therefore, beyond our control. However, he believed that everyone is responsible for his or her own actions, which can be channeled and examined through intense self-discipline.