This is the second chapter of nine included in my free, full version program, Goals! An Interactive Guide . The other chapters will be added in blog entries for future use.
Goals! An Interactive Guide  Chapters:
Chapter One: Why Set Goals? 
Chapter Two: Decide Exactly What You Want
Chapter Three: Create an Unstoppable Drive
Chapter Four: Get Organized
Chapter Five: Stay Flexible
Chapter Six: Overcoming Obstacles
Chapter Seven: Review Your Progress
Chapter Eight: Velocity-Based Goal Setting
Chapter Nine: Operate From the Highest Level
Most of us understand the principle of cause and effect. You throw a ball up, the ball comes down. You finish your homework, you get good grades. You provide value to your company, you get paid. You provide an action and a result is produced. This principle is obvious, but it misses an important step. What caused you to take that action in the first place?
The answer is decisions. Your internal decisions are what create actions. What you decide to eat, who you decide to associate and the beliefs you decide to adopt all trigger your action. Your actions are an effect in themselves, the cause is your decisions. If you can consciously control the decisions you make you can move yourself towards the effects they produce. Decision creates clarity and commitment, the two pillars of success and achievement.
The first step in setting any real goal involves making a decision. This decision is deciding exactly what you want. Clarity won’t suddenly appear. Like a sculptor standing before a block of marble, you must chisel clarity out, the excess marble won’t just slide off when you stare at it. Decide exactly what you want. Most people never make this decision their entire lives.
Write down all of your desires on a piece of paper. Brainstorm a list of the things you would like to achieve, experience or overcome. Don’t censor yourself and allow these ideas to flow freely. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure how or if you can do something. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Let your ideas run wild for this will be the source from where you can make decisions about what you actually do want.
Once you’ve gone through this list, select one or two and use the goal setting procedure we identified in the last chapter to set a goal to achieve it. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure how you will achieve it. The act of deciding that you will achieve it sets forth the actions to bring it into effect. Remember all effects start first with decision. Decide and the necessary how will reveal itself.
If you followed the goal setting procedure in the last half of the chapter you should have an objective goal, written down with a deadline. This is a pretty basic goal and we would like to get even more compelling motivation and clarity to ensure its success.
Visualize The Outcome
People fail to achieve goals not largely by circumstance but largely by a lack of imagination. If you aren’t absolutely convinced that you can and will achieve the goal, you cannot achieve it. You can reinforce your belief in your goal by visualizing it precisely and visualizing it often. If your vision is incredibly detailed, realistic and compelling to you, overcoming obstacles on the way to your goal will be far easier.
Sit back and visualize achieving one of your goals. Imagine achieving it in perfect detail. Visualize all of the benefits of achieving your goal. Try to capture as many details as possible in your visualization to make it more real and vivid. Start associating overwhelmingly positive emotions to this visualization. You may even want to put on some music in the background that reinforces the visualization. Associating strong, positive emotions to the image will make working towards the goal easier.
“I would rather have no sight than no vision.”
– Helen Keller
A vivid and compelling visualization of your goal can begin the process of realigning your focus. Whenever you encounter obstacles that try to sabotage your progress, your vision will allow you to see past the minor disturbance and continue forward. Without a clear visualization of what you want, even a minor upset can send you off in a completely different direction. Your vision forms the map from which you can use to sail you through the rough seas ahead.
Once you’ve created your visualization initially, don’t forget about it. Every day you should spend a few minutes going back to your visualization to reinforce it and reuse it. Reconnecting to your vision throughout the process of achieving your goal will allow you to check back on that map when you need it. Reconnect with your visualization often in order to make sure you stay on course. If you aren’t visualizing your goals at least once per day then you are going to end up wasting a lot of time as you drift off course. You may even drift far enough off course that you lose sight of how to get back. When you are out in the open ocean, if you pull out your map only when things get foggy, you are too late.
Write Your Why’s
As we’ve discussed earlier, a thought inside your head is not as powerful as a thought you place on paper. Once you externalize your thoughts and reasoning they hold far more weight than they can while they exist between your ears. After getting the image and visualization of your goal is to create a written version of that visualization. By writing down all of the reasons why you are pursuing this goal, you make them real for you.
Take out the sheet of paper where you have written out your goal. Beneath this, write out about 150-200 words about why you want to achieve the goal. The more difficult or long-term the goal, the longer this section should be. Write out this list in detail, the longer and more compelling your reasons are for why you should be pursuing this goal, the more success you will have in achieving it. Motivation is mostly about having enough “why” to create the necessary “how”.
Just like your visualization, refer to this sheet and re-read your list of why’s often. Although reviewing your visualization may be a little faster than re-reading the entire list of why’s, I would suggest spending a few minutes doing this at least once per week. Reminding yourself of your written commitment, followed by your reasons can push you back on course when you start to drift. I’d have to agree with Helen Keller, a man without sight is blind, but a man without vision is dead. Your vision is the first key step to achieving anything. Without reinforcing it daily it will wither and die.
The precise detail you can use in your visualization and in your list of why’s is incredibly important. Don’t say that you want to own a new house. List exactly the kind of house you want, the size, style and color. Visualize what your carpeting will look like and the color the walls will be painted. Visualize the furniture you will have and the layout of the building. Be precise in how the yard and garden will look.
Vagueness only begets vagueness. If you aren’t sure exactly what you want the universe will reflect that fact and give you exactly what you asked for, a bunch of things you aren’t sure you want. Don’t just visualize and write down that earning more money will allow you to take more vacations. Feel the sand between your toes and smell the salty breeze coming off the ocean as you are sitting relaxed in your chair staring out at the blue ocean. Don’t just appreciate that losing weight will make you healthier. Imagine yourself running effortlessly, feeling confident and secure in your appearance. See yourself able to move with ease and grace.
The more senses you can bring into your vision and reasons why, the better. It is said that our sense of smell is the strongest sense linked to memory. Linking all five senses and every fiber of your emotions into these visualizations will make them far more real than writing a logical list of reasons for pursuing your goal. You are governed by emotion more than logic. Creating a very basic emotional connection to your goal allows you to override feelings of doubt, frustration, stress and conquers procrastination. If I asked you right now what it smelled like to achieve your goal, could you tell me? If you can’t then you haven’t fully invested every one of your emotions and senses into your goal, its that simple.
If you are finding this exercise hard, if you are finding it difficult to get really enthused, excited and energized by your goal, stop right now. You’ve set the wrong goal. Don’t set goals because your family, boss or society tell you to. If you have absolutely no desire to earn more money, don’t set a goal to do so! Your visualization will tell the story. If it doesn’t make you want to jump out of your chair, then you need to find a more compelling goal.
Visualize your goal. Once you have the visualization clear, write it out in detail. Remember to be specific and vivid. Every fiber of your being should be invested into this image as that will get you through difficult times. Use all of your senses in the visualization process until the entire experience feels real to you. Most importantly, this process will tell you whether you’ve really picked the right goal for you. If you are having trouble visualizing and enjoying your goal, you’ve picked the wrong one for you. Pursue your own passions, not what society tells you to.
Decide exactly what you want and make it real for you. Don’t wait for actions or circumstances to give you clarity. Decide to carve it out right now and take control of the true power that goals can provide.