What do you want to accomplish? When managing your potential you have to know what success looks like or it is easy to get distracted. To be your best you must have personal and professional goals. But goal setting is just the start to achieving your goals.

Setting clear career goals as well as personal goals is very important for an individual or a team In my two years of studying how people manage their potential, I have found that life goals improve the success rate for people The goal helps keep a person on for the long term.

When someone faces a tough decision, it is the focus on the personal and professional goals that can help them make the choice that keeps them in work life balance. Everyone is out of balance in the short term, but knowing what and why is their purpose keeps them going.

Why Goals?

In my own experience I have seen that we can rationalize many reasons to not have goals or to abandon them. Many people tell me that setting goals makes them sad if they miss the mark, so they skip the whole concept of personal and professional goals. Others claim goals ruined their life because they became too driven. Both of these comments confuse me.

Missing 100% completion of the goal should not make you sad. It is about the journey and how much farther down the path you can get when you strive for personal and professional goals. If there are 10 rungs on a ladder and you are striving to get to the top, and end up at number eight, that is better than being stuck on level four. The goal could be the thing that makes the difference.

As for goals making you all about work, that is only because the person did not have the right mix of goals for their professional life and their personal development. A single goal at the cost of everything else in life is not the right way to set goals.

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

I have seen goals as a way to get me out of my comfort zone. It is the pursuit of goals that have taken me to the levels of achievements I have had so far. Plus, I have a long way to go in this life journey. Even over 50 years old I reset my goals to include making age 50 to 75 the best years of my life.

Sometimes you have to change or adjust your goals. But being in motion means you can easily pivot. Being at a full stop takes much more energy to get you moving. Goals alone are not some magic fairy dust that gets you to success. They require actions.

Living on hopes and dreams will not get you anywhere. I see too many people who wish their life was “better”, but have no idea what “better” is all about. They realize they do not like what they have at this moment, but they have no personal and professional goals to pull them forward.

Goals Matter

I have made it my purpose to help companies and their teams find ways to manage the potential of each person and the organization. In research that has involved surveying over 500 people, and interviewing hundreds more, it is clear that success leaves clues.

The most successful do not get there by accident. They create a roadmap and make choices that are in support of their personal and professional goals.

Don’t kid yourself.If you feel stuck, you need to get clear on what you really want and the actions you are willing to take. It might involve a lot of hard work and sacrifices. But goals matter.

The Paradox of Potential.

My workshop, “The Paradox of Potential” is an interactive team conversation that helps people identify what is holding them back and create a path to navigate the gap between potential and performance. The smartest managers know that no two employees face the same issues in their lives.

I call it a “paradox” because we have spent our lives excited by potential. (Ours and that of others). But potential is not results. To be successful in reaching your personal and professional goals you must have tangible results. Nothing else is real.

Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and a professional master of ceremonies / EmCee. He is the host of the “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do” podcast and the author of 12 books. He speaks at company and association meetings with the goal of getting people to take actions to reach their potential.