Carl Mays: Let’s take a closer look at goal setting in 2014

Jan. 02, 2014 @ 11:14 PM

According to a report in a December 2013 issue of University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of Americans “usually” make New Year’s resolutions, 17 percent “infrequently” make resolutions, 38 percent “absolutely never” make resolutions. Eight percent are “usually successful” reaching resolutions, 49 percent have “infrequent success” reaching resolutions and  24 percent “never succeed” reaching resolutions.

Most goal-setters set the same types of goals each year, but actively work toward reaching these goals for only about six weeks. According to sports psychologist Rob Bell, even though most of us know goals work and have some level of knowledge on how to set goals, goal-setters continue to fail because they simply lack the correct mentality. He tells about three athletes who have shown their own brands of “winning mentalities.”

Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2,632 straight MLB games without missing a single day, eclipsing Lou Gehrig’s record that stood for over 50 years. At an All-Star game, Derek Jeter asked Ripken the secret of playing every day. Cal replied, “You know, Derek, I just play.” The record didn’t drive Cal Ripken Jr. It was his goals of keeping fit and healthy and improving his game and helping his team each day. He claimed, “I didn’t just show up for work, as has sometimes been said. I also showed up to work.”

Dr. Bell says any goal we set is worth pursuing, giving us more purpose and something to shoot for each day. As Cal Ripken Jr. (and Nike) would say, “Whatever your goal is, Just do it!” Without allowing the fear of not reaching your goal to block your path, just show up every day and work toward accomplishing your goal.

Sixty-four-year old swimmer Diana Nyad achieved one of the most amazing athletic feats of 2013, reaching her lifelong goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida. She completed the 110-mile trip on her fifth attempt that spanned across several decades. She told her welcoming crowd three things about reaching goals:

“One, never give up. Two, you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three, swimming appears to be a solitary sport, but it is a team sport. It is always people working with people that makes things happen.” Goal-reachers receive support, encouragement and advice from others who help them accomplish their goals.

“Others” are immensely valuable to Julio Jones, all-pro NFL wide receiver. He said he doesn’t set personal goals. Jones says, “It’s all about team.” He claims he doesn’t set personal goals because, “I don’t want to limit myself.” Dr. Bell explains Julio’s stance by saying that some other successful athletes feel the same way. He says they consider goal-setting as a “limiter” because they end up making deals with themselves rather than actually setting goals for themselves.

Bell says we make deal statements such as, “If I, then I” or “If you, then I.” In the process of doing this, we do limit ourselves. We use such justifications as, “If I work out four days this week, then I can eat that entire cake” or “If you clean your room, then you can use the car.” He claims these “deals” are not “goals.” Such deals limit us and undermine our successes.

Bell encourages us to accomplish things not just for ourselves. Instead, focus on a team or family goal. When we focus on others through our goals, we follow through more, because the goal isn’t about us only. Lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more, stay fit and healthy, etc. – not just for you, but also for those who love, support and care about you.

Good thoughts for 2014.

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. The free mentoring and self-help site is based on his “A Strategy For Winning” book and program. E-mail or view