I am a big believer in the power of setting goals – actually, stretch goals. For if you set your sights beyond your comfort zone, you can really break into new territory. And even if you didn’t reach the goal’s full extent – you probably far exceeded a “safer” goal.
I’d like to share an experience that is not business related, but has many business parallels. About one year ago, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. After evaluating all the options, my wife and I chose a surgeon, health system and treatment plan and approached this challenge with the goal of being fully cured of cancer. As if that goal wasn’t enough, a YPO friend suggested that I celebrate being cancer free by running a half marathon. At the time, I was in the middle of 33 daily radiation treatments and had no interest in a dare that seemed so extreme.
But the more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me to challenge myself to do something completely out of my comfort zone and I said yes – not knowing how I could do it. After months of training, I recently completed the OC Half Marathon. The thrill of this accomplishment continues to pump through my veins. What made it even better was that my wife, daughter and many friends ran the race as well. The truly motivational part for me was that I ran this race with another cancer survivor – 11-year-old Mason Moses. Mason was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of three and after many surgeries is doing great and is a true inspiration. The funny thing is that he viewed my situation as a challenge to run the race as well. By the way, I am doing great; cancer free and in the best health of my life.
Here is what I’ve learned about achieving stretch goals – business or personal.
Find your motivation
In the case of the race, my initial motivation was to see myself celebrating at the finish line. Once Mason started training as well, I pictured holding our hands high in the air as we finished the race together – which we did. I find that visualization is a very powerful element in achieving goals – if you can play that movie in your head, your mind can make it a reality. This concept applies to business goals as well. Find that emotional image of your accomplishment and play the movie in your mind. If you develop enough conviction, nothing can hold you back.
Develop a game plan
Stretch goals are difficult to achieve. I find the best way is to do these three things:
1) Ask yourself, what will prevent me from achieving this goal? Address these issues head on.
2) Break the plan into segments – what can I accomplish this year, then quarter by quarter, 30 days, this week and finally today. Big goals can seem unattainable unless you break them down into realistic measures.
3) Commit to the plan. Unforeseen events will occur, natural deviations will happen, but get back on the right path and make up the difference – falling too far behind will only tempt you to give up. If I only could run two days one week, I ran four days the following week – back on track.
Celebrate the wins
The journey can be just as much fun (or more) as the finish line. It’s important to celebrate each victory along the way. Especially when your goal involves a team. The feeling of mutual accomplishment builds upon itself and becomes a motivator all on its own. Momentum has a huge impact on building confidence and the power of positive thought. Plus it’s a lot more fun to enjoy the positive experiences along the way.
Mason’s story to run the half marathon was picked up by KABC News in Los Angeles shortly before the race. Mason continues to be an inspiration to me – he has set his sights on a pretty impressive goal – he wants to be a brain surgeon – and I am confident he will make it happen. My wife and daughter also ran the half marathon (pictured below) and continue to be a constant motivation in my life – I am so thankful they supported me in this goal. We have all decided to run the race again next year. What’s your stretch goal?