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How to Set Goals like John Kennedy

moon_footprint"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." ~ Neil Armstrong

Today we’re celebrating one of the biggest successes of all time. Forty years ago today, on July 20, 1969, three men – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – landed a spacecraft on the moon for the first time.

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They had launched their mission 4 days earlier, flying 203,000 miles to get there.

About six-and-a-half hours after they landed, with one-sixth of the people in the world tuned in to watch, Neil Armstrong descended down the ladder of the lunar space module. As he became the first person to walk on the surface of the moon, he uttered those famous words:

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

We never get tired of hearing those words. It gives us goose bumps. They are so inspiring.

But we have to remember that it didn’t just happen. It began as a bigg goal over eight years before.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” 
 

How to set goals like President Kennedy

President Kennedy’s goal was very well-stated. It was a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym for:

Specific
Measurable
Action-Oriented
Realistic
Time- and Resource-Constrained

Let’s look at each of these five components of a well-stated goal using President Kennedy’s goal as an example.

Specific
President Kennedy said that we were going to do two things:

  • land a man on the moon
  • return him safely to earth

You can’t get much more specific than that. In this case, it may be easier to think about what wouldn’t be specific. He could have said, “We’re going to land a man somewhere in space.” That’s not specific. He clearly articulated the destination.

Measurable
President Kennedy’s goal was clearly measurable. We would certainly know if a man had landed on the moon. We could certainly tell if he returned safely to earth.

Note, though, that landing on the moon and then not being able to get back safely would have meant the goal was not reached.

Let’s bring this point on being measurable safely back to earth. Here’s an example of a goal that is not measurable:

“I’m going to increase my income next year.”

What does that mean? If you increase it by $1, did you really accomplish what you set out to do? A well-stated goal would be:

“I’m going to increase my income by 5% next year.
“I’m going to increase my income by $2,000 next year.”

Now you’ll know if you accomplish what you set out to do.

Action-oriented
When President Kennedy called for this mission to send man to the moon [PDF], he made clear that it would take a tremendous commitment by the entire nation to reach this goal.

He called for innovation. He called for new money. He said it would take a concentrated effort for an extended period of time. But it would get done.

And get done it did. In a similar vein – with our personal goals or the goals we set for our businesses – we must commit to taking the necessary steps to achieve the goal.

Realistic

President Kennedy said, “I believe we have all the resources and talent necessary.” 

Your goals can and should be bigg goals. They should stretch you beyond anything you’ve ever accomplished before. But they have to be realistic.

Otherwise, they don’t lead to bigg success. They only lead to discouragement.

Time- and Resource-constrained

This one’s easy. President Kennedy said we would accomplish this goal by the end of the decade. It was 1961. The goal was reached July 20, 1969.

He made it clear that resources would have to be diverted from other good causes if this goal was to be reached.

When you set your goals, be sure to give yourself a due date. When will you accomplish this goal? What resources will be required to do it? Do you have them?

Goal-setting is not goal-getting

John F. Kennedy was able to reduce all of this into a simple goal statement of 31 powerful words that set this course of events into action.

Because he wasn’t just a bigg goal-setter, he was a bigg goal-getter.

Setting goals is just the first step in that process. We have a great tool – the Bigg Goal-Getter’s Workbook – which takes you through the entire six step process to put goal-setting and goal-getting to work for you. It’s free when you subscribe to our free newsletter, The Bigg Success Weekly

Just one final point:

Good goals have a reason behind them. They serve a bigger purpose. Every goal should lead you closer to the bigg success of which you dream. So we’ll close with John F. Kennedy himself explaining why sending a man to the moon was so important:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
 

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Is E-Mail Diluting Your Message?

communicate Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, is the author of Silent Messages. This book discusses his legendary research into the relative importance of verbal and non-verbal communication.

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Mehrabian’s rule

When you’re trying to communicate emotions, think about the three V’s: verbal, vocal, and visual. They are the three parts of what has become known as Mehrabian’s Rule – 7% of your message is given verbally (the words you use), 38% comes vocally (the tone you use), and 55% is delivered visually (your facial expressions and body language).

We see from his research that, when we’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes, the overwhelming majority of the message comes through non-verbally. If the verbal and non-verbal don’t agree, people will rely on the non-verbal.

Choosing your medium

Therefore, understanding the three V’s of communication helps you prevent misunderstanding. If the recipient of your message can’t hear and see you say the words, your message may get diluted.

E-mail is convenient, but it can be easily misunderstood because it’s only words. What about text messages?

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marylynnA friend of mine told me that her husband’s ex-wife texts her husband about problems with their kids. My friend gets frustrated after several rounds of nothing getting solved. She says she tells him to just call his ex-wife.

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So choose your medium carefully if you’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes. Some media only use one part of the communication trio, and a very minor one at that!

If you’re just relaying facts, e-mail is fine. If you want to express more than that, your message may get diluted. A phone call enriches the conversation because you bring in the voice. And while it’s not always possible to meet face-to-face, it is your best bet for your most sensitive communication.

Speaking of which …

Let’s apply this to a presentation, whether your audience is one or many. How you say what you say, and what you do when you say it, are actually more important, in getting your message across, than what you say.

What?

It’s hard to explain this in just words. Hey, that illustrates our point!

You can say, “I’m excited.” If you say it with enthusiasm in your voice while standing straight up, your audience will believe you. If you say it like Droopy says, “I’m happy” and slouch while you’re saying it, your audience may doubt you.

People remember the impression more than the words. So if you want to connect with an audience, it’s important to practice your inflections and your gestures to make sure they’re congruent with your words.

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Are you thinking about your New Year resolutions?
Get our FREE Goal-Setting Workbook when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly it’s free too!

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We really appreciate you reading our post today. If you listened to our show, you could’ve heard our appreciation in our voices! Join us next time when we get a visit from a very special guest – Santa Claus. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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(Image in today's post by ilco)

Directions that Discourage

twisted_directions We saw the results of a fascinating study over at Medical News Today. The researchers tested how the directions about a task affect the perception of the task itself. They started by trying to motivate college students to exercise.

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They gave the students directions on how to implement an exercise program. Half of the students got directions in an easy-to-read Arial font. The other half received the same directions in a Brush font (think paint brush), which is difficult to read.

Then the researchers asked these students:

  • to estimate how long the exercise routine would take
  • how easy it would be
  • if they would make it part of their regular routine

The “Arial” group thought that it would take less time and be easier than the “Brush” group, who also was less likely to make it a part of their daily ritual.

It’s amazing how something as simple as the font we choose could make so much difference. Just to be sure their results weren’t skewed by the students’ preconceived notions about exercise, the researchers performed a similar experiment with a recipe for sushi.

The outcome was similar. They concluded that if instructions are easier to read, people respond positively.

Enough about fonts, let’s put all the pieces together

We need to think about the directions we give to make sure they’re not discouraging our people. We don’t want to make a simple task sound complicated by our directions. Since people equate the ease of a given task to the ease of the directions about that task, we need to think about our:

  • Message
    Be sure you’re clear in what you’re saying. Also be concise. Eliminate the fluff. Focus on writing high-impact copy.
  • Design
    Obviously, the font you use plays a role. So does      white  space     . Graphical elements are always good. You should also use headers and bullet points when possible to make your directions easier to digest.
  • Words
    Sixteen-syllable words don’t impress many people; they have the opposite affect on far more. Jargon doesn’t help either. Use words that your audience will easily understand.

Look at the following two sentences:

You’ll save money if you buy gas today.

Buying gas today could be economically advantageous.

Which one conveys the message better to you? Which words do you like? Which structure if preferable?

We often make the mistake of thinking “fancy” words said in our passive voice make us sound smarter or more professional. Usually it’s the opposite. We’re deemed smart when we connect with the audience we’re trying to reach.                

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to be a good winner (or loser). Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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Why Being Imperfect is Perfect

On the show, George said his dad was a perfectionist. Specifically, he was a bricklayer who was known for his impeccable craftsmanship. However, when he was working on other things, George said he would sometimes hear his dad say …

“It’s good enough for who it’s for.”

That’s a great saying to remember to help you fight your inner perfectionist. When you’re working on something, you reach a point of diminishing returns. 

2 options
#1 – You can spend a whole bunch more time to get something a little bit better, or

#2 – You can spend the same time and get a whole bunch more done.

In most cases, you’re better off doing #1!

The 80 / 20 rule
Apply the old 80 / 20 rule – 80 percent of the things you do probably don’t need to be perfect; only 20 percent do.

If what you’re working on is really important, go for the marginal improvement you’ll get from spending the extra time on it. If it’s not that important, get it done and remind yourself that it’s good enough for who it’s for.

For example, Mary-Lynn said that she used to try to get her hair to look just right before she went to work. But she has a lot of hair, so it took some time. She found that if she kept fussing with it, she’d be late for work. She learned to just turn off that curling iron, pull the plug and say, “It’s good enough for who it’s for.”

George said he only wished he had enough hair to have that problem!

Perfectionism causes procrastination
Perfectionism can be a huge problem because it may cause you to procrastinate. Have you ever put off doing something because everything had to be perfect before you could start?

George said that when he had a report to write in college, he would never be satisfied with the research he had done. The house had to be immaculate before he could start. His desk had to be cleaned and organized. He finally learned to say, “It’s good enough for who it’s for!” Then he could get start writing the report!

Rebutting your inner perfectionist
There’s a well-known technique for fighting off your inner critic. Start a journal that records the conversation between the perfectionist in you and your more practical self. This helps you discover what is causing your need for perfection so you can rebut your inner perfectionist.

So, yes, we’re telling you to talk to yourself! But remember, you don’t need a perfect reply or a perfect question.

Our bigg quote today is a shortened version of a quote by John Updike:

“Perfectionism is the enemy of creation …”

So fight off your inner perfectionist with these simple words, “It’s good enough for who it’s for.”

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to increase your profit year after year. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Pages

Happy Scum

By Dana Mancuso
Bigg Success Contributor
08-07-08

Life Skills

pm411_logo Have you ever had a disagreement about something you've heard? I often disagree with my husband about popular song lyrics. What he hears is close to the real words in most cases, but not always.

Sometimes what you hear is a direct result of what you've already heard. Sort of like expecting to get an apple from an apple tree. You've always gotten apples from the apple tree, so you aren't going to expect an orange to be growing there. You won't hear country music from the lips of rocker Bon Jovi. Or will you?

Back in high school, I was seated in a small group next to someone from my grade school. This boy had teased me in 5th and 6th grade. In fact, he had never spoken to me in any other manner than to tease me in my entire life.

So, when he spoke to me, not only was I surprised, but my brain turned on the teasing filter. Here's what I heard when he tapped my arm:

"Happy, Scum?"

What?

"Happy, Scum?"

Oh my god, he's calling me scum!

The sentence was repeated once more before I heard what he actually said, "can I HAVE a PIECE of GUM?"

My brain had already determined that anything coming from this guy's mouth was going to be negative at best, hurtful at worst–when all he wanted was some Dentyne. (I handed him the skuzziest looking piece of gum in the pack.)

I at least make an effort not to jump to conclusions. But my brain often does it for me before I can stop it. Sometimes I do it when reading an e-mail from a coworker. (She forgot a word in the sentence, accidentally changing its meaning.) Sometimes I do it when I get an odd look from someone (He doesn't have his contacts in so he is squinting a lot.) Everyone has heard the look before you leap cliché, but it applies so well to hearing in haste, as well as to acting in haste.

Next time you're about to turn on that filter, grab a piece of gum and chew it over a bit. 

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How Fast Can You Type?

By Bigg Success Staff
05-22-08

Test Yourself

typing  

Speed isn’t everything, but learning to type faster is definitely an asset! Test how fast you type with this quick typing test  from CalculatorCat.

You’ll know in a hurry how many words you can type in a minute.

Before you go, here are some quick tips to type faster:

  • Relax.
  • Sit up in your chair.
  • Put your feet flat on the ground.
  • Get comfortable with your arms, elbows, and wrists. Your arms should hang down comfortably, elbows resting on your chair, with your wrists on your keyboard.
  • Look at what you’re typing, not your keyboard.
  • Don’t hit the keys too hard or too soft.
  • Don’t force it. Just type as quickly as you can.
  • Practice! Practice! Practice!

On your mark, get set….GO!

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Bigg Fun 26

Write Right

By Bigg Success Staff
01-18-08

Career Builders

Pen_jpg

We move rapidly through our day. We shoot off a quick e-mail. txt msg a frend with abrve8d wrds. We may spell check our work, but we probably won’t read it. Do we check the grammar with our software program? Maybe. Proofread it? No way.

Writing is a lost art. Proofreading seems disdained. Great writers know that great writing is a process. They don’t expect a work of art on their first draft.

They write. They proofread. They edit. They repeat.

Finally, they sign off on their great work.

You communicate your message clearly when you write right. You build relationships. You advance your career!  Toward that end, here are five tips to write right!

#1 – Write to your audience.
Your audience loves seeing the word “you.” They feel like you are writing to them. They want you to include them. Give them what they want! Use the “you-view” when you write.

#2 – Keep it simple.
Journalists write to eighth-graders. Does that show you what they think of our mental abilities? They don’t do it because they don’t think we will understand it. They do it to make sure that they don’t make their material overly complicated.

#3 – Don’t be pretentious.
Don’t use too many multi-syllabic words. You won’t impress anyone if they don’t understand you. Speaking of that, get rid of all jargon. It interferes with your message. Use real words.

#4 – Don’t be redundant.
Length doesn’t matter. Resist the urge to “fill.” Make your point. Then quit.

#5 – Use your active voice.
Remember this phrase – actor action. Write your sentences with that phrase in mind. Which one of the following two sentences communicates better?

Michael played his guitar.
The guitar was played by Michael.

Many people write passively – like the second sentence. Yet you get the picture more clearly with the first sentence, don’t you? 

Now you’re ready to proofread. Then edit. Repeat until you’re satisfied! Keep these five tips in mind on your next writing project.

Do you have a writing tip? We would love to hear it! Leave us a comment.


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(Image of pen by StaR_DusT, CC 2.0)