Productivity Boosting with a Goals Program

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Productivity boosting in a nutshell: Waste no time. 

The best way to not waste time is to be clear about your priorities.  Focused priorities help ensure we will arrive at the right place.  If well-designed, a goals program can act like jet fuel for your life.

Why Goals?

Some business consultants argue that all success is based on goals.  I tend to not be goal-driven.  However, written goals clearly did boost my productivity when I used them. 

To help me develop a better set of workable written goals I turned to one of the best I know: Zig Ziglar.  Hearing him speak in person was one of the great pleasures of my self-improvement program. 

This post is inspired by his work, especially from his book, Over the Top.  A productivity boost can be instrumental in taking an individual, a family, a company, or a nation “Over the Top.”


“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” —Pablo Picasso

Risk of Goal Setting

We must set our goals thoughtfully in the context of our life.  Otherwise, there is a danger.  Individual goals focus on a specific objective and can be at the expense of other areas of our lives. Although we might reach the one, we overlook more important areas.  The risk is obtaining achievement (at least in one area) but at the expense of personal fulfillment. 

Only 3 % of all Americans have goals programs designed to reap the most benefits from life itself. Why do so few have a goals program? The most important reasons are fear, poor self-image, lack of understanding of the benefits, and ignorance of how to develop a program.

A successful program can only be achieved when steps are taken to develop a balanced, confident, hopeful picture of the future, despite any fear that may creep in.

One should always have HOPE (Honesty, Optimism, Personal responsibility, and Effort).

Six Steps to Pick Your Goals

Wild Ideas

1) On a “wild idea sheet” let your imagination run wild, and print everything you want to be, do or have.

Wait & Ask Why

2) Wait 24-48 hours and then answer “why?” for each item. If you can’t articulate in one sentence why you want to be, do, or have it, eliminate it as a current goal.

Is it Really Me?

3) Answer these five questions, all of which must have a yes answer:

  • Is it my goal?
  • Is it morally right and fair to everyone concerned?
  • Will reaching this goal take me closer to or farther from my major objective in life?
  • Can I emotionally commit myself to start and finish this goal?
  • Can I see myself reaching this goal?

Productivity but at What Cost?

4) After each remaining goal, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will reaching this goal make me happier – healthier – more prosperous – win friends – give me peace of mind – make me more secure – improve family relationships – give me hope?
  • Most important – will this goal contribute to a more balanced success?


5) Divide the remaining goals into three categories:

  • Short-range (one month or less)
  • Intermediate (one month to one year)
  • Long-range (one year or more)

Productivity Never Ends

6) Take the remaining goals you have listed on your “wild idea sheet” and work each goal through the process.


“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” -Will Rogers

Seven Steps to Set Goals

1) Identify your goals. You will never realize more than a small fraction of your potential as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.


2) Ask yourself, “How will I benefit from reaching this goal?”


3) Identify and anticipate the obstacles and barriers to reach this goal.


4) Know what skills or knowledge will be required to reach this goal.


5) What individuals, groups, companies, and organizations can help me reach this goal?


6) What is my specific plan of action to reach this goal?


7) What is the completion date?  Without a timeline, it is just a dream.


Zig’s Wisdom on Reaching Your Goals

Make the commitment that you are going to reach the goal. Committed lives have meaning, accomplishment, purpose, and excitement.

Commit yourself to daily detailed accountability. If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.

At the end of your day, list the six most important things you must do the next day and the order of their importance. You should also plan to invest about thirty minutes once each week to keep your goals current and to plan for the next week.


Break your goal into small pieces. You build a successful career, regardless of your field of endeavor, by the dozens of little things you do on and off the job. You reach those significant goals by breaking them into small segments.

Body & Mind

Get into shape physically, mentally, and spiritually. Everybody recognizes the importance of sound mental health and good physical condition. Your spiritual health is even more important.

Play to Weaknesses

Make your liabilities your assets. History records that many people with handicaps overcame them and made them their greatest assets.

Get Over It

Learn to respond to disappointment. It’s not what happens to you but what you make of what happens to you that will ultimately determine your success in all areas of life.

Do What You Must

Discipline yourself. We all have experienced times when we don’t want to do something that we have to do.  Because we had made a commitment to do the job, we dragged ourselves out of bed and went to the assignment. After we took those steps, we felt like doing the job. 

That is the very definition of discipline: Doing what we have to do when we must do it, whether we feel like it or not.  The point is that motivation follows the action and not vice versa. Productivity isn’t based soley on willpower, but that is part of it. It was our character that got us out of bed, our commitment that moved us into action, and our discipline that enabled us to follow through.

Change, Don’t Quit

Change direction, not decisions. When setbacks and disappointments do occur, you do not change your decision to go for that goal – you simply change your direction in order to get there. We have no control over many things, but we can keep our own commitments both to ourselves and to our loved ones to pursue our objectives. Productivity is important, but not at the expense of higher priorities.

Share Some Goals

Get all the help you can: share “give-up” goals freely and “go-up” goals carefully. If you are going to give up something, you can and should share these goals with just about everybody. Most people will encourage you when you share these goals with them.

If your goal is a go-up goal, you need to be very careful with whom you share it. You need to share that goal only with those who will be inclined to be encouragers.

Get a Team

Become a team player. A team effort is very helpful in reaching your goals. In life when anyone accomplishes major objectives, you can know that a “team” helped him. Productivity can be measured in terms of your leverage with a group.

Be Positive

Paint a positive picture. Negative pictures are very destructive. The most successful people win because they play to win, plan to win, prepare to win, and therefore can legitimately expect to win.

Paint that picture in your mind of what you want to be, do, or have. If you want to reach your goals, you must see yourself as already being there. You must paint that picture in your mind of what you want to be, do, or have.

Your dreams can come true. But be careful about your dreams. If you dream it boldly and vividly and follow the steps suggested, your dream will become a reality.  Be sure to use all the Powerful Tools for Success available to you.

Climb to the Top

What about you? Are you in the top 3% who have and follow a goals program?  How has that worked out?  If your productivity isn’t top-tier, start now.  Draft your plan and kick it into gear. What struggles have you experienced with goal-setting in the past?

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  1. Goals are one of the great keys to success. Without something to shoot for, you will never know if you hit it. Thanks for this nice exercise on goal setting. They certainly have made a difference in my life.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

    September 4, 2018
    • Cory,
      That is validating to hear. You should be proud of all you have accomplished in your life. Others should take note that you found goal setting to be a key to your success. That fact alone inspires me to take my own advice more seriously and focus my targets better.

      September 4, 2018
  2. PawPaw said:

    I guess I’m in the 3% that is goal oriented. I do achieve them frequently, but not always. I’m a task oriented kind of guy. I have to do lists, checklists, etc.

    Last week I bought a Panda planner Pro. I love that product. It’s structured in a way that helps you review you goals, tasks etc in a more strategic way. So far I’m really enjoying it.

    September 4, 2018
    • PawPaw,
      Good for you. Those who are focused and have a system are most likely to accomplish and less likely to waste time. We have one brief life and it sounds like you live yours on your terms.
      I haven’t heard of the Panda Planner Pro, but I will check it out. I have used various methods in the past including Franklin-Covey, GTD, and Wunderlist. I’m trying to stay digital and link my goals to my To Do List. Currently, I’m enjoying ToDoIst.

      September 4, 2018
  3. I am relatively goal oriented, but it comes in spurts. I get lazy sometimes but then I read posts like this which are a good kick in the pants.

    September 4, 2018
    • MD,
      I’m glad the post could serve a purpose. After writing it and re-reading it I kicked myself in the pants too. I realized I am clear on my 4-5 top priorities and my 7 top values but did not have an active up-to-date goals program. I got overwhelmed a few weeks ago because it seems I had too many things to do. I made a To Do list on paper and I listed 98 items. No wonder I was overwhelmed and it felt good to get it out of my head. The missing link though between chosen values and hundreds of activities is made clearer by goals. After working on those more I see clearer which of the 98 tasks are important and/or urgent vs ones that can wait. The framework gives a method to the madness.

      September 4, 2018

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