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One of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur is watching new employees succeed and helping them realize their potential.  I like being involved in the training process but the best part of that is getting to know them on a personal level and engaging informally.  That unstructured, unrehearsed give and take is best feedback I can ask for.  It is a chance to answer their unique questions about their job.

There is one question, in particular though, that is not so unique but that is asked by almost everybody.  I am always happy to hear it because the answer, in my opinion, is so essential to personal success, yet so often misunderstood.  The question is always asked with genuine, and maybe innocent, sincerity but it is the naivety with which people expect the answer that makes it so important to me to share my thoughts on the subject.

The question I am so often asked is, “What is the secret to setting and achieving goals?”  Simple question but I firmly believe that the expected answer does not exist.  There is no definitive, absolute, step by step magic formula that will work every time in pursuit of every goal.  Don’t get me wrong, you need a plan, and there many inspirational speakers and writers offering well thought out methodologies that you can adopt, but they are not foolproof because you have to bring one essential element to the plan FIRST.

The reason most of us fail to achieve our goals has nothing to do with the methodology.  It has everything to do with you, your focus, your desire and, most of all, your knowledge of yourself.

I could never cover all I have to say about this in one blog entry, so let me start here.  Don’t confuse your wish list with your goals.  Your goals must inspire you, they must ignite a burning desire to realize the benefit they will bring.  They must touch “your” inner core and be meaningful on your terms.  If it truly matters to you, you can make it reality.

If you want to set and achieve goals, the first step is to ask yourself WHY?  Why do you want to achieve this goal?  Don’t focus on WHAT you want until you clearly know why you want it? Why will your life be better if you achieve this?  Why will you be happier when this is real?   Why does this matter to you, not anybody else, YOU?  There may be several WHATs along the path to your WHY.  You’ll figure out what those are once the WHY is firmly established in your mind.

If you want to make any goal reality, YOUR reason WHY has to be your focus, your obsession.  Your reason WHY has to grip you.  It must become a fixation that you know, with unwavering confidence, will make a positive difference for your life and most often, not in the conventional way most people will think.

So, I ask you, WHY do you want to accomplish your goal?  How will it change your life?  What will it mean once it’s reality?  What opportunities will it create that don’t exist without it?  How will that make you feel?

When you think that way, losing 20 pounds, or quitting smoking or buying a new car, or earning a degree or certification or sales level or starting that business or helping your church or paying off your credit card becomes almost an inevitable achievement.

That is not to say that it will be easy.  Everything worthwhile will have its challenges but the next time you want to roll your eyes and groan, “Remind me why I’m doing this,” make sure you already have your answer!

Jeffrey Jedlicki Pathway to Professionalism