Setting goals is simply the long-term version of keeping track of your time. Actually, a three-step process is involved:

  • Setting goals
  • Developing a plan to achieve those goals
  • Keeping track of your time to make sure your plan gets executed
When I was in Japan in 1983, we had a series of seminars in which we heard speeches from the leaders of Japan’s largest industrial concerns. We heard from the top officers of Honda, Sony, Mitsubishi, and the head of the biggest enterprise of all, the eighty-eight-year-old president of Matsushita Electric.
Persuading them to speak to us was quite a coup, because the Japanese system is much more rigidly structured than ours, and they regard appearing before the troops in this fashion as somewhat beneath their dignity.
And if giving speeches was regarded as a crude Occidental custom, imagine how they felt about answering questions.
But when out eighty-eight-year-old headliner addressed us, he spoke eloquently and profoundly. Then came the questions:
Questions: “Mr. President, does your company have long-range goals?”
Answer: “Yes.”
Question: “How long are your long-range goals?”
Answer: “Two hundred fifty years.”
Question: “What do you need to carry them out?”
Answer: “Patience.”
Sounds like a joke. But if it’s so funny, how come every time we compete with them, they bury us? Everybody and every business need a set of basic goals and beliefs, but most of us are seat-of-the-pants, one-day-at-a-time operators. Our goals are fuzzy and our plans for achieving them nonexistent.
One of my good friends gave me her definition of a goal, and it’s the best one I’ve ever heard. “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Write yours down–because that’s the only way you’ll give them the substance they need to force you to carry them out.
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About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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