- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on August 9th, 2012
The other day I was having a conversation with a guy and the subject of goal setting came up. At the time I said that would be a good blogpost and I Googled “setting goals”, and received 188,000,000 results.
When I was growing up, I was an athlete so I learned how to set goals. Everything was incremental. I played a lot of hoop, so every day I would shoot baskets for a minimum of around 3 hours. Spot up jumpshots. I had ten spots around the horn. Once a day, I would compete with myself and shoot from those spots. Ten spots, ten shots, a hundred shots all day. My goal was to better myself each day. It hit all 100 once. Perfection! Perfection is a double edged sword.
That’s the way goal setting is. In athletics, you get instant gratification sometimes. You can hit all the shots. You shave a second here or there. You lift a bigger weight. Life is messy though.
Why is real life like that? That incremental progress can sometimes take a lot of time. Currently, I am having a very difficult time with that. There is so much hype out there on all kinds of things that when I attempt them I want it all. I forget to set small little goals. Attain those, and the big goals fall easily.
The Rev. Robert Schuler used to say, “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.”. But too often we try to avoid the inches and go for yards.
Trading is obviously like that. But so is building a business. Today, there is so much press about some internet start up selling for XXX million or going public and founders raking in XXX million. There was a very long journey to get there. Instagram($FB) was an outlier.
It would be great to hear more hyper successful founders stories about their first few customers. What did they feel like? Why did they get them? What did they do specifically once they got them?
There are a lot of people giving advice on how to set goals. But the best they can do is generalize, unless you want to pay them a lot of money to consult. I never have done well paying people money for career advice. But it occurs to me, no matter what I do I wind up back in my driveway.
Setting good goals starts with having bedrock standards that you follow. Those will give you discipline. John Wooden is the most successful basketball coach of all time as far as championships go. However, he also was a molder of men. No one did it better.
Having standards sets you up for success. You have to be flexible, but there have to be certain things that you just won’t bend for. You cannot be all things to all people.
Once you have that in place, you can start to try and look at big macro goals. Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve? How do you get there, your path? It’s critically important to be realistic. I used to play basketball against Glenn Rivers. I even outscored him once. It didn’t mean we were playing the same game.
It’s important to realize that even though you are charting a straight line path from point A to point B, the odds are this path will twist, turn, double back on itself, maybe even cross itself before it goes the way you want with any sort of momentum. Getting from point to point can be gut wrenching.
When you start out, you have to make sure you have enough gas in the tank mentally, physically, or financially so you can achieve and get places. Occasionally, you will have to fill up your tank again. In many cases, that means a vacation-even for 24/7 entrepreneurs. Taking a deep breath gives you perspective and let’s you see the path you are cutting in the forest.
You need some yardstick, but maybe the yardstick you are using isn’t the right one. A lot of goal setting isn’t easy. The progress is hard to track, and data is what you need to give you feedback. Ask someone that will be honest with you. Talk about what you are doing to a variety of people that are familiar with the industry and listen to what they say.
One thing that can kill you is perfection. Being perfect can cause you to spend too much time on minute details. Mentally, you can get let down when you don’t achieve perfection. John Wooden had a great saying, “Be quick but don’t hurry.”. It means doing things right, and doing them in the right cadence to get to where you need to be. If you hurry, you will forget. Too slow, and the pack with leave you behind.
All of this can be a maddening process. But, if you do it right in the end you will be on top of the mountain. You will look back at your path, and feel satisfaction. Of course, sometimes you turn around and there is another mountain staring you in the face!
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The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)
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