Sklover’s Monday Thought: “The Greatest Benefit of Achieving Goals.”

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“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

– Henry David Thoreau⁣

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Thoreau’s quote sets forth a simple notion, but a profound and powerful insight, and one that deserves to be kept in mind.

I’ve observed the product of its insight many times in my law practice, and in my coaching practice, too: setting and achieving a goal – of any kind – leads to improved self-confidence, and improved self-confidence can lead you to improved results in so many other endeavors.

Your first attempts to achieve your goals are rarely life-altering; they are usually rather simple and near-unnoticeable to others. But once achieved, any goal can provide you with the self-confidence to try another. Eventually, your goal may be a flight to the moon. That is, reaching your goals can be satisfying, even addictive, and for this reason, self-propelling.

Step One in achieving a Goal is Setting It: It is a kind of commitment to yourself – to go somewhere or achieve some thing, from quitting smoking to learning to ski, from world travel to weight loss. When you set a goal, you make a promise to yourself – not to anyone else – to take it seriously. Without that “inner Commitment” there is no Goal set. Though setting a Goal may seem easy, taking it seriously is not.

Step Two in Achieving a Goal is Identifying your Goal’s Necessary Steps: What are the impediments to achieving your goal, how high are the hurdles you need to “jump over?” In what order should steps be taken, and what resources are needed to take them? Never forget that so often “stuff” just happens, and even you will make mistakes, so flexibility must always be built into your plan.

Step Three: Simply take the steps needed, in the right order, and maintain your humility, because nothing is as simple as it seemed “on paper.” Indeed, chances are you will learn a lot from taking these steps, perhaps, even, that you forgot a few.

The satisfaction, the pride, and the resultant self confidence that result from achieving your goals are far, far greater than any other type of rewards or “compensation” you might get from others. After all, if you can do THIS, you can do THAT, and so on, without limit. And, too: self-confidence “sells” you to others like nothing else.

And There’s Yearly and Lifetime Goals, Too: Each New Year’s we see and hear a lot about “goals for the upcoming year.” I set yearly goals each calendar year, and reconsider my lifetime goals, as well. They serve to keep me on my “chosen path,” in line with my “highest values,” and as reminders to keep moving in the “right direction,” with meaning and purpose.

By setting, adapting and achieving goals, yesterday you were a “beginner,” tomorrow you just may be an “expert.”

This “simple yet profound” quote of Thoreau is timeless; it will never become inapplicable or valueless, but always invaluable. It came to us from a longtime friend from my years living in Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” a time I look back upon with great fondness.

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