A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.
People often think there’s a kind of myth or magic around success or successful people.
But the truth is, there’s no such thing. There is, however, one thing that most people overlook. The importance of knowing, every time, exactly what you’re shooting for.
Everything I’ve achieved so far is the result of a goal that I’ve set.
Goal setting has made everything I’ve ever done more meaningful. If you think about it, without the goals and structures of the game, soccer would just be a bunch of grown men running after a ball – and it’s the same with life.
Setting goals has also inspired the drive and discipline required to achieve my goals. And while it might have taken me longer to achieve a goal than I had originally hoped, I’ve never yet given up on any goal I’ve set for myself. How long it takes you to achieve the goal really doesn’t matter. And you’ll never fail at achieving a goal if you never give up on it!
The way I see it is that we only have a finite number of years to work with – and while not everyone aspires to make millions or become an entrepreneur – it’s safe to say, that most people would appreciate a little financial security in life; a comfortable retirement, to be free of any financial stress. So, thinking from this perspective, we really need to maximise what we’re able to achieve in the limited working years we have. And that’s where goal setting can really help.
There is a famous story about a study conducted by the Harvard Business school, which found that only 3% of their students achieved significant financial success several years down the track after entering the workforce. Those students who had achieved that success, were students who had written down their goals, back when they were still studying, and crucially, had also written down a concrete plan of action to go for it and make it happen.
So if you set a new year’s resolution for yourself back in January and are already struggling to stick to it, or perhaps you are currently celebrating the Lunar / Chinese New Year and reflecting on what you want to achieve in the year ahead – here are 5 points to note that will help you on your way to an even more successful 2018.
Setting a goal
When people sit down and set a goal, they tend to stretch themselves a little bit. Without a clearly defined goal, you’re likely to repeat what you did last year. There’s no strong motivation to learn a new skill or to broaden your knowledge base to be able to reach the next goal.
When I was a kid at school, I made the decision to become a table tennis player – and to be the best player in the school team; that was my goal. In setting that goal, I knew I had to improve my skill level as a player, and practice hours on end to be able to realise that goal.
In my early years after arriving in Australia, I got into the habit of writing my goals for the year on the 1st of January every year. It was a genuinely exciting time for me because it was when I learned that I can define my own results for the year; to begin with the end in mind. Back then, my goals were about basic financial outcomes, for example, I used to write down the money I needed for the year to fulfil my family’s needs and aspirations.
Visualise yourself achieving the goal
Before I had even learned about the power of visualisation, I’d already made it a habit. Back when I was in high school, and considering my options for the future, I decided that I would like to go to uni and my goal was to gain admission into one of the best universities in China.
Immediately, I imagined myself walking down the Peking University campus, and what I’d do there and how great it would feel. Returning to this image gave me the energy and drive to continue to be disciplined enough to put in the otherwise overwhelming number of hours of study that would be required to get there.
Commit to a plan of action
The difference between wishful thinking and goal setting is committing to a plan of action. Without a concrete plan of action, your goal will remain an aspiration, as opposed to something that is possible to achieve. So for me, when I would write down my goals on January 1st every year, I would also write down the plan of action that would help me achieve them.
Write down what you’re prepared to give up
Part of committing to a plan of action involves working out what you’re prepared to give up in order to achieve your goals. Because there will be sacrifice – and that sacrifice may mean working harder than everybody else is – getting up earlier to get to the gym, practicing more at a sport or instrument, studying more, or simply, finding more hours in the day to get through your work faster.
When I set the goal of getting into Peking University, I literally stopped everything else, I stopped playing the violin, I stopped playing table tennis, I even stopped setting off firecrackers at Chinese New Year. And I didn’t even notice that I’d stopped, I was just so focused on my end goal.
In my early years in Australia, when I was working in insurance sales, I wrote down that I’d be happy to give up watching TV (something I used to love) in order to have more time to achieve my financial goals. For example, this would give me more time to make calls and spend time with potential customers.
Review your progress regularly
Throughout the year, I would review my goals each month to see how I was tracking against my plan. This way, if I knew I was missing my target for the month, I’d know I’d need to double my efforts to get there.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Setting a goal is one thing, but committing to that goal so that it becomes a ‘burning desire’ is the thing that’s missing in most people’s lives.
What I learned early on, when I first started reading about goal setting, is that when you have a strong desire to achieve something, you will have the discipline to follow through. Giving up won’t be an option; you will simply have no choice in the matter.
When a goal you set is your true ‘heart’s desire’, everything you do on a daily basis in order to achieve it, will no longer feel hard or tiresome – it will become part of chasing your dreams.
As the saying goes: “if you want something badly enough, you’ll get it” – because you’ll be happy to do whatever it takes to get there.
And these days, the idea of sitting on the sofa and watching telly sounds tiring and frankly, a little boring to me!
My personal goals
For me personally, because I have largely realised my earlier goals in life, my goals these days are much longer term. My new personal financial goal is to be able to commit to becoming one of the members of ‘The Giving Pledge’ – an open invitation for billionaires, set up by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to publicly dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
I also remain committed to my goal of helping others, through my work with Ironfish, and also through individual mentorship, by teaching others what I’ve learned about changing your mindset and learning how to set and commit to goals. This is one of my ongoing goals that I’m most proud of achieving; the many people I have worked with and have seen develop in their careers and flourish.
Seeing people reach their full potential and achieve goals that they never believed possible is incredibly rewarding and it’s one of my favourite things about what I do.