The famous basketball player Michael Jordan wrote the following about goal setting in his book, I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence:
I approach everything step by step….I had always set short-term goals. As I look back, each one of the steps or successes led to the next one. When I got cut from the varsity team as a sophomore in high school, I learned something. I knew I never wanted to feel that bad again….So I set a goal of becoming a starter on the varsity. That’s what I focused on all summer. When I worked on my game, that’s what I thought about. When it happened, I set another goal, a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough….I guess I approached it with the end in mind. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there. As I reached those goals, they built on one another. I gained a little confidence every time I came through.
…If [your goal is to become a doctor]…and you’re getting Cs in biology then the first thing you have to do is get Bs in biology and then As. You have to perfect the first step and then move on to chemistry or physics.
Take those small steps. Otherwise you’re opening yourself up to all kinds of frustration. Where would your confidence come from if the only measure of success was becoming a doctor? If you tried as hard as you could and didn’t become a doctor, would that mean your whole life was a failure? Of course not.
All those steps are like pieces of a puzzle. They all come together to form a picture….Not everyone is going to be the greatest….But you can still be considered a success….Step by step, I cant see any other way of accomplishing anything.
I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence is published by HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers (ISBN 0-06-25119)