Wednesday, July 27, 2011


“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”

~Anthony Robbins

 'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: 

Today is the third part in my week-long series on CHANGE. On Day 1, we decided on something to CHANGE in our lives. On Day 2, we used the Stockdale Paradox to face the brutal facts of our current reality. Today, we use questions to write a goal for our CHANGE idea.

I love what Earl Weaver, Hall of Fame Major League baseball manager, asked a player of his one day: “Are you going to get any better, or is this it?”
"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."
~Bruce Lee
So, what is it that you want to CHANGE? To become very clear about your change idea and to help you set a goal, below are 4 important questions to ask yourself about your CHANGE idea.

1. Where are you now?
  • Develop a crystal-clear picture of your starting point. (Stockdale Paradox)
2. Where would I ideally like to be in the future?
  • Idealize and practice future orientation. 
  • Imagine that you can make yourself into anything that you like in the months and years ahead and create a perfect vision of what you would look like if you were successful in every respect.
3. How did you get to where you are today?
  • What have you done right? 
  • What would you do differently? 
  • What have been your biggest successes so far, and why did they occur? 
  • What have you failed at, and what were the reasons for it? 
  • “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” ~George Santayana
4. What do I do now, to get from where I am to where I want to go?
  • Based on your experience, what should you be doing more of or less of? 
  • What should you start doing that you are not doing today? 
  • What should you stop doing altogether?
If you have worked your CHANGE idea through the four questions above, you are ready to set a goal. This is a key step in this process.

Keep these ideas in mind as you develop a goal for this change:
  1. Make it short term (one week) 
  2. Make it specific (stay away from vague ideas) 
  3. Start small (Make it nearly impossible to fail) 
  4. Commit the goal to paper (This is critical)
Examples of CHANGE goals:
  • For someone who needs to begin exercising: “I will walk for 5 minutes a day for the next 7 days.” 
  • For someone who wants to pray more regularly: “I will pray for 5 minutes a day for the next 7 days.” 
  • For a leader: “I will write one thank-you note per day for the next 7 days.”
The point of this exercise is to make an intentional choice and DO IT! You need a win.

I believe it is a huge mistake to write a goal such as: “I will start a gym membership this weekend, buy some workout clothes, and start exercising an hour a day beginning next week.”

NO!!!! Forget the gym membership, put on some old clothes, put on your shoes, and walk out the front door. Take a baby step. The hardest part to exercising is walking out the front door. Once you get moving you’ll be okay.

Once you meet your goal for 7 days, you will have gained some momentum. If you feel good about the direction, set another 7-day goal with a slight increase.

Life is lived one day at a time.

One final thought: Brian Tracy wrote an awesome book called Goals! In this book, he shares a strategy that he uses once he sets a goal. He has a small notebook and writes his goals ten times each morning. His reasoning is that it burns the goal into your subconscious so that you are mentally working on it all day. I’ve used this before and decided to share it. I believe there is validity in the process of writing our goals.

Please set a micro-goal today. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the power of taking small steps.

QUESTION: Does setting a small, short-term goal make sense to you? Have you used this process before? Was it successful? Please leave comments below.


Anonymous said...


Yes, small goals work. I have used the "habit app" on my iPhone to help me take baby steps. I posted about it here in an article, "Do the Hardest Thing." Thanks!

Jason said...

@jbmavrich - I enjoyed the post that you linked - good stuff! I will have to check out the "habit app." Thanks for the comment.