The “5 P’s” of Successful Goal Setting

Your Path to Victory – At Long Last – Begins Here

Executive Summary:  Goal setting is a vital life skill that can be practiced year-round.  Most people don’t succeed on their first attempt.  Ironically, each setback increases the probability that the next try will come closer to the mark, if not directly hit the bulls-eye.

There are five basic tools that all goal setters should equip themselves with to increase their odds of success: Passion, Persistence, Planning, People and Positivity.5ps

It has been more than 120 days since New Year’s 2011 and by now many of us have long since given up on our various resolutions.  They were the best of intentions, but life and reality once again got in our way.

If you are one of the millions of lapsed goal setters, now is the perfect time to reboot.  Whether it’s cold and blustery outside or the trees are blooming and a warm breeze is blowing, the process of setting and reaching goals should be a year-round, all-weather, life skill.  No champagne required.

In fact, goal setting is one of life’s most important skills, given that very, very few of us are handed exactly what we want without ever having to ask and work for it.

In our busy lives, it requires determination and focus to take a “time out” and think about our ambitions and how we’re doing in pursuit of them.  Perhaps that’s why so many people try goal planning only once a year – at New Year’s – because the holiday season offers more down time to think about the Big Picture and our life’s direction.

Reading and taking action on these tips will take less than 10 minutes

But those minutes might very well become your down payment on a first-class ticket to greater financial security, better health, closer personal relationships, a more satisfying work life – and even (for those of us pressed for time now) greater chunks of leisure time.

Students learning a foreign language must learn, forget and relearn words three to six times before they permanently commit the translation to memory.

Goal setting is much the same.  Most people set a goal, fail to reach it, and someplace down the road try again.  Success is most likely to come after a series of false starts.

Why does that happen?  Consider these common sense explanations:

  • A person who keeps coming back to the same goal is more deeply committed to the outcome than someone who tries just once and then abandons the effort altogether

    Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931)
    Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931)

  • We all learn from our past disappointments, so we come better prepared to succeed with each new assault on the goal
  • Timing plays a part in most goal-setting success stories. The Buddhist proverb, “When the pupil is ready, the master will appear,” seems applicable here. There are simply times in our lives when we are better prepared to incorporate our past experiences and ongoing motivation into a winning formula for success

Since we receive no official notice when the ‘correct’ time in our lives will arrive, we must keep testing the barriers to achieving our goals to determine if they are at last ready to crumble.

Thomas Edison, arguably the greatest inventor of all time, was nothing if not someone always committed to bounce back…

I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

~Thomas Edison

Today, the world might not have the light bulb, phonograph, motion picture camera, etc., had Edison not pushed ahead on his 10,001st and 10,002nd attempts.  In all, Edison applied for and received 1,368 patents.

We mostly remember Edison’s accomplishments. Who really knows how many thousands of setbacks he rebounded from?  As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi observed about one essential trait of consistent winners: “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

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Those of you who made a New Year’s resolution this past January and weren’t able to carry through are already one step closer to ultimate success than if you hadn’t even tried.  Reading and acting on this article is a second step in the right direction.

The “5 P’s” of successful goal setting

When picking yourself up after missing a goal, there are five basic tools you’ll want to carry with you to improve the odds of victory on your next attempt.  We call them the 5 P’s of Successful Goal Setting.

1. Passion

You’ve got to want the goal badly enough that you won’t allow yourself to become discouraged when the finish line proves hard to reach.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

~Henry Ford

2. Persistence

Cliché as it may be, if at first you don’t succeed, well just don’t give up.  Really, any goal worth attaining is also well worth missing – as many times as necessary.

Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

~Zig Ziglar

3. Planning

The road to defeat (and other unsavory destinations) is paved with good intentions.

The surface of the ‘road to success’ is smoothed with actual planning.

Successful businesses begin with a well-thought business plan.  Successful goal setters likewise require a carefully considered goal-plan.  Each goal-plan should include among its elements:

  • Ways to break the main goal into smaller, easier-to-accomplish parts
  • A realistic timetable
  • Strategies and resources (including mentors) you can utilize
  • A system for tracking your progress
  • Fallback positions for when you encounter potholes and detours – which you will

You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”

~Yogi Berra

4. People

The Boston Marathon attracts 25,000 participants and roughly half a million spectators each year.

The number of qualified entrants and the large, cheering audience handing out cups of cold water do not make the 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton to Boston any shorter.  Cheering you on from the sidelines...But the support and enthusiasm of the crowd and the momentum of the pack do provide most runners an extra boost on their journey to the finish line.

Family, friends and coworkers can likewise give you the extra boost you require to reach your goal.  Whether they are running alongside you, cheering you on from the sidelines, or handing you advice based upon their own scrapes and triumphs, enlisting the help of others dramatically increases your chances of success.

5. Positivity

Mental attitude can carry you forward even when circumstances aren’t breaking your way.

Is reaching for a goal a burden, a responsibility, a sacrifice, even a punishment?  Well, it can be… if you decide to think of it that way.

But you can also picture your path as an adventure, an opportunity, a competition and a growth experience.

The task, really, is the same regardless of how you view it.  The outcome, however, is far more likely to be to your liking if you remain upbeat and optimistic at each step along the way.

think, do, be positiveMastering how to correctly set and stick to important goals until they are accomplished is such a vital life skill that Bank on Yourself has chosen Financial Goal Setting as the launch pad for an exciting new Internet community that will be making its debut in July 2011.

Known as Bank on Yourself Nation, the new  community will give you the knowledge and tools you need to fearlessly navigate your personal path to lifetime financial security and self-reliance.

The Financial Goal-Setting discussion on Bank on Yourself Nation will provide you with unique strategies, insights and support certain to increase your likelihood of reaching your financial goals.  The discovery experience includes audio and video lessons from experts; personalized questionnaires and worksheets; and plenty of real-world examples of other people who also are journeying toward a higher level of personal goal setting and achievement.

One of the highest priorities of Bank on Yourself Nation will be to help its members obtain their lives’ goals and reap the many rewards and satisfaction that success brings with it. Stay tuned for details of a special Charter Membership Offer coming soon!


  1. Great post! Just want to add a goal setting resource to compliment your post here. It’s a goal setting appcalled GoalsOnTrack and it has worked very well for me. It saves me a lot of time in keeping track of my goals and most importantly it helps me better organize my daily todos towards achieving my goals.

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