Stories of the Power of Setting Goals

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Increase your chances of success by setting goals

Chapter 7

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible world into the visible” - Tony Robbins

"People with goals succeed because they know where they're going." - Earl Nightingale


For most of my adult life, I have had the pleasure of summers off from school. It is a gift that I don’t take for granted. When my children were getting older my wife came up with a brilliant idea. She suggested that everyone write down three things they wanted to do during the summer vacation. We all wrote down our three items and then combined them into a summer list of things to do, like a summer “bucket list”. As soon as school was out we started working on our list of things to get done in the summer. By the end of summer, we had accomplished most of the list. We also discovered something important: You can get so much more accomplished by writing down what you want to do and focus on this list.

top 10 list setting goals

During college, I really enjoyed riding bicycles. I remember going to the library and reading Bicycle magazine. In the magazine, I saw tons of articles and pictures of Italian racing bicycles. I owned a very cheap 10-speed bike from K-Mart and I needed an upgrade. I walked into a local bike shop and spotted a very cool Italian racing bike mounted on the wall. I HAD to have this bike. I had one slight problem: a very limited budget. What I did was something I’ve only done a handful of times throughout my life, but I told myself I was going to have this new bike no matter what. Looking back, it was as if I willed the bike to myself. I went home and got to work. I sold some stuff, did odd jobs, sold more stuff, and cut grass. I was so focused nothing would stop me from getting that bike. It took me about eight weeks to save up for the bike but I can still remember the day when I wheeled the bike home. I rode the bike to school every day for the rest of college, and then for three more years after graduating. I loved every second of riding it. From buying the shiny new bike I learned the power of goal setting and focus. 


The process of setting goals is pretty simple.

Take some time to reflect on what you would like to accomplish.

Write these goals down and put a date to accomplish them.

Check on the goals often.

Take action in order to accomplish the goal.

Goals are powerful because they help you focus on what you want to accomplish in life.  Please don’t have the illusion that by writing down goals they automatically are going to take place. Writing down the goals is step one and then you need to follow up by taking action.

As you read the following stories about people who wrote down amazing goals and then accomplished them, you will notice that they had a dream, wrote it down, and then took action to accomplish their goal.

The first story comes from one of my favorite books, Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear. The author followed the University of Colorado cross country team for a whole season and wrote about it. The star of the team was Adam Goucher. He was the best runner at his high school, but he wanted more. He wrote down four goals on a poster board that he hung in his room. The four goals were

1. Win the state championship

2. Win Footlocker Midwest

3. Win Footlocker National Championship

4. Long Term-Collegiate National Champion, Make Olympic Team

His coach described how he often had to run by himself because no one could keep up with him, yet he never complained. Before the Midwest race, there was a blizzard, but he was still out training in the intense, frigid weather. During college, he ran very early in the morning to get in his miles. He possessed a strong desire to accomplish his goals and was willing to work for them. In the end, he was able to accomplish every one of his goals. He was a two-time Colorado high school state champion, Footlocker national champion his senior year, NCAA national champion in college, and two-time Olympic team member. All four of those lofty goals Goucher wrote on the poster in his childhood room came true with his talent and hard work. 

cross country

Jack Canfield is a world class speaker and coauthor of the popular book series, ”Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Although the series has sold millions of copies, the book was just an idea at one time. Jack Canfield had a goal of selling 1.5 million copies by December 30, 1994. His wrote the goal down on a business card and carried this in his wallet. In addition, he vowed to do 5 things every day to help promote the book. By the target date, he had sold 1.3 million books.

John Grisham has sold over 250 million books. His first book A Time to Kill was inspired by hearing the story a twelve-year-old girl told to a jury. He went home that night and started writing his first book. He set a goal of rising every morning at 5 am and writing at least one page. He stuck with his daily goal and was able to write a book while working full-time as an attorney. If he had not set this goal he may have never finished his first book and become a popular author.

When John Goddard was 15 years old he wrote down a list of 127 goals he would like to accomplish in his lifetime. Many of the goals were very ambitious, like going to the moon or circumventing the world. But he figured that if he accomplished all of his goals he would have had a life of adventure and inspiration. After writing out the list he did something that most people fail to do; he took action. The very next day he started taking steps to accomplish his list of goals. Before his death, he was able to accomplish over 90% of these life goals.


When you write goals down and commit to accomplishing them, you give your brain direction and focus. 

Bob Frapples loved reading motivational books. His favorite author was Jack Canfield. In his book, The Success Habits Jack Cranfield suggested that you should write down 100 goals you would like to accomplish in your lifetime. This suggestion inspired Bob to write down his list of 100 goals. One of his goals was to meet Jack Canfield and have a conversation with him. At this point Bob had completed step one of accomplishing goals: he had written the goal down. Many people stop here and just start wishing. What happened next is a perfect example of the power of writing down goals and then taking action. Bob noticed on Mr. Canfield’s website that he was speaking in his hometown in a few weeks. He thought that this could be an opportunity to meet him. He bought tickets and went to the event. After Mr. Canfield spoke Bob thought he could go down and meet him. However, many people had the same idea. Bob waited and waited patiently and finally got the courage to try to speak to him. As he went up to Mr. Canfield the next speaker came on stage and Bob started looking for a seat. By chance there was an open seat right next to Mr. Canfield, so Bob sat down. For the next two hours, he was able to talk with Jack Canfield between speakers and they eventually became friends. Amazing things will happen if you set a goal and start taking action to achieve these goals.

You’re never too young to start writing down and achieving goals. Create a list of 100 items you would like to accomplish. Dream big and then start taking action towards these goals. For example, Taylor Swift had the dream of becoming a country singer. She was able to convince her parents to move to Nashville to pursue her goal. If you don’t have goals and direction in life, than other people will set your goals for you.  


If you can define the WHY, then you can figure out the HOW.

When I was in high school I had a friend who had already figured out what he wanted to do in life. His name was Michael and he wanted to be a doctor. I remember him telling everyone about wanting to be a doctor during our freshman year in high school. I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do later in life. I figured you should go to college, but I didn’t really have any purpose for school. Michael knew he needed good grades in high school and college in order to get into medical school. He had a “why” attached to his school and motivation to do well. Not for his parents, but for his future career. I was a very average student in high school. But when I arrived in college I figured what I did now would impact my choices later in life. I now had purpose attached to my studies. I made much better grades in college than in high school.Discovering your “why” will help you see the required work as a stepping stone to where you want to be. I heard a story recently that illustrates my point.

Kimanzi Constable grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After high school he got a job driving a bread truck. He liked the job and worked from midnight to 6 in the morning. Life was good. After several years of driving the truck he got married and then children came along. One day he woke up and realized he hated driving the bread truck. He felt stuck in a job he hated and figured he had no other options other than driving the truck. While driving one night he listened to a podcast about an author who wrote ebooks. As crazy as it seemed, Kimanzi thought he could maybe do the same. He started writing about his life as a bread truck driver and what he learned at night while others slept. He wrote his book, published it on Amazon, and waited for his money to roll in. But after two weeks he had a problem; he had not sold a single book. He wanted to quit and started to doubt himself. However, he kept thinking about his “why” and that he was going to write successful ebooks. He spent a year promoting his ebook and examining how others sold their ebooks online. He worked tirelessly on selling the book and wrote the second one. He kept thinking “If I can successfully write and market ebooks, I can stop driving a bread truck”. There were many times when he felt discouraged, but he kept remembering why he wanted to write and publish an ebook in the first place. Two years after writing his first ebook, the sales started coming in and he sold 10,000 copies of his first two books. This opened up more opportunities and he eventually got a contract with a publishing company to write four hardcover books. Just three years after figuring out his “why” and writing his first ebook, Kimanzi has stopped driving a bread truck and runs an online eBook business along with having many speaking opportunities. He moved from Wisconsin to Hawaii. When you can figure out your “why”, you will find the motivation to accomplish your goal.


Summary Points

Writing down goals helps by giving you direction and focus in life.

Create a list of 100 life goals

Discovering your “why” will help you succeed and overcome difficult times.


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