January 19, 2011

Don't confuse your goals with your dreams

Last week I had the chance to hear a talk by Apolo Anton Ohno.  

His message, based on his new book (Zero Regrets) was simple:  Create goals you have the total power to achieve. For those accomplishments beyond your control, consider them dreams that are more likely to come true if you meet your goals. 

He pointed out that prior to the Vancouver Olympics, he errantly had a goal to become the most decorated US Winter Olympian, which would require winning six medals.  He realized, in an aha moment, that anything could happen no matter how hard he trained: Another skater could sacrificially bump him out of races, new super-competitors could show up, he could get suddenly ill, on and so on.  

He knew that he needed to watch his weight (he's old for a competitive speed skater) and that he needed more core strength.  So, he made his goals around weight/strength.  Before the Olympics, he lost 17 pounds, getting down to 141.  That required intense dieting with no cheating and a lot of hungry nights.  He went from leg pressing around 1500 pounds to a stunning 1980 pounds.  Again, this required hours of highly strenuous training, with pain becoming his best friend. 

On the first day he was on the ice in Vancouver, his key competitors, the Koreans and Chinese looked at him and said, "Something has happened to that guy!".  In the end, Apolo did achieve his dreams, winning enough medals to become the most decorated US winter competitor in Olympic history. In his view, reaching those goals was the equivalent to "loading the funnel" in sales speak. 

This was an aha moment for me as well.  I've got a new book coming out in April (Today We Are Rich) and up until I heard Apolo, my 'goal' was to get on the New York Times Bestseller list.  But that's not within my control either: Who knows what will come out when I do, how many authors will game the system with bulk buys, etc.  So, I've changed my goals to something I can control: Unit sales.  If I fall short, much like I did in my business life, I'll roll up my sleeves and prospect my way to success. 

If you are a sales pro, don't make "president's club" your goal, you have no control over the playing field, competitors, etc.  Make your quota or prospecting metrics your goal - and likely, you'll make that trip to Cabo! 

Here's the takeaway: Don't confuse goals with dreams.  Reaching goals sends a signal to your subconscious that you are successful.  It gives you a sense of momentum.  When you miss a goal, the opposite affect occurs.  Set goals that you can meet, based on your efforts and excellence.  Much like Apolo learned, good goals can contribute heavily to making your dreams come true. 


Posted at 10:35 AM in Business Effectiveness  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)



My dreams and goals are separate things, but they tend to overlap and compliment each other quite nicely.


I follow you VIA GFC and I love your blog!


Very interesting Post.


the key is to choose goals that are within your control, and don't overly rely on luck/circumstance. To believe that achievement is tied to advancement is the key: if you follow a process, hitting metrics along the way ----- good things happen!


There's always a lot of confusion between dreams and goals, that's true.
But, what if people can't have enough faith in themselves to actually understand those "dreams" are indeed within their reach?
Is it always so easy to distinguish between the two?

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