“… everything I have achieved and accomplished did not happen by chance. Instead, it happened because I dreamed it and designed it clearly in my goals…” These are the words of Singapore youngest self made millionaire, Adam Khoo, and the opening paragraph for this ‘Dare to Dream: The Power of Goals’ chapter in his international best seller, ‘I Am Gifted, So Are You!’ book.

To truly appreciate and understand the power of goals, let’s turn back time to look at a study done at Yale University in 1952. In that year, the graduating class was asked if they had set clear goals for their future and what they wanted to achieve after they graduated. Out of the entire graduating class, only 3% of the students had their goals written down. They had a very clear idea of what job they wanted to be in, how much they wanted to get paid, even the kind of lifestyle they wanted to lead in the future. They had truly designed the next 15 to 20 years of their life. On the other hand, the remaining 97% of the students had no goals at all. They did not know what they wanted; or rather, they did not mind the kind of jobs and salaries they would get. They left everything to chance and adopted a ‘whatever will be, will be’ attitude towards their future.

Here’s what happened: Fast forward twenty years later, in 1972, a follow up study was conducted during the homecoming of the graduating class of 1952. The findings were astounding. The combined income of the 3% of students who had set their goals were three times more than the combined income of the 97% who did not set any goals! They all came from the same Ivy League school – a clear evidence that all of them had similar level of intelligence of ability, but what attributed to this drastic difference in combined income? The answer lies in the power of setting clear goals.

If setting goals is so powerful, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Here are the 5 main reasons why people do not set goals:

1. They Fear Failure.

For many individuals, there is always this impending failure waiting to happen. If a student was to aim for seven A1s and do not achieve it, chances are, he would end up feeling like a failure. So in order to avoid failure, many end up not setting goals. After all, you can never fail to achieve your goals if you do not even set them in the first place, right? Well, yes, but at the same time, if you had never set goals, you would have never succeed or have any big accomplishments.

Now, what if we took the failure away and replace it with a learning experience? (You can read about how you can never fail in another article written by my fellow trainer, Aman) After all, we would probably all be crawling to work or school every day if we have given up on learning how to walk when we were much younger just because we fell a few times and had a few bruises along the way.

2. They fear Embarrassment.

“Are you crazy? You will never achieve those As!”. We have met any students that do not set goals because they are afraid that other people would laugh at them and mock them about their crazy goals. They feel demoralized when they are looked down upon by the people around them and allow these words to affect them in a negative way. After all, the power of words is a potential weapon of mass destruction.

3. They have Low Self Esteem.

Self esteem basically refers to a feeling of confidence and self worth. In our I Am Gifted!™ school holiday programmes, we often describe it as a feeling of being lovable and capable. Individuals with low self-esteem tend to have low standards for themselves. This is the reason why many students do not aim for the best results and best universities. And when approached, some would say that they could have never achieved those results or enter those ivy league schools; others would say that it is not for them and that those stuff are meant for top students and top achievers.

Low self esteem is usually a result of past experiences and upbringing. It could be because in the past, we were told by the people around us that we are ugly, or not good enough. All this may have caused low self esteem. However, this is not true. In fact, we all have tremendous potential in us. If it is possible for others, it is definitely possible for you. It is only a matter of discovering and using the right strategies! And goal setting is exactly what it all begins.

4. They do not Believe in Goals.

“I tried it before and it is not for me”, “I don’t see how goal setting is going to help”… these are common excuses that we hear all the time. They give many examples of how they have set goals in the past, but it never worked for them or how they have set goals but end up being a complete failure. Truth is, the reason why they probably did not achieve their goals lies in them not giving their best and working hard towards their goals or have used the wrong strategies in the first place and ending up giving up halfway when they didn’t see how things could work out.

Setting goals does not mean that you are automatically entitled to the amazing results you have set. It does not magically bring you success. In order to achieve those results and get to your goals, you must be ready to put in lots of hard work, planning, take action and have an undying determination.

5. They simply Do Not Know How.

Some people simply just have no idea how to begin when it comes to goal setting. They hit a few roadblocks and bumps along the way and most end up giving up. What’s worse is that some do not even bother finding out how. In fact, they are usually the kind of people that want something but will not put in the necessary effort to get it themselves.

Do you fall into any of the categories above? Or are you already setting amazing goals for your future? In my next article, we will discover more smart goal setting strategies covered in the I Am Gifted! school holiday programme and look at how to effectively set goals. Now, we can all start designing our own future.

Article by:

Melvin Chew, Senior Trainer (I Am Gifted!TM Programmes)