Know Where You’re Going

You’d be surprised at the number of people in all walks of life, in all lines of business, who have no idea where they’re going. I don’t mean where they’re going down the street, or to their jobs, or to their homes, or to the beach, or to the ball park, or local pool hall for a game of snooker. I mean where they’re going in their work and where they’re going in their lives. If they can’t answer to where they’re going, what top they want to achieve, they’ll never master their way there.

Do you know where you want to go? Somewhere. Even if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to wind up somewhere. I call it nowheresville. And that’s no place to be. Only you can decide what top you wish to reach. You must decide it, define it, nail it down, tie it up, and keep it in plain sight, before you can take the steps to reach it. I can’t pick your top for you, but I can show you some important steps to help you get there. One such step is to make sure you know where you’re going. Real sure.

Think carefully, and then ask yourself: What do I want at my job, in my business, in my career, at school or college, in my marriage, in my life, so badly that I can taste it? I’ve asked that question many times in my life, especially when I have come face-to-face with a career change. If you want something so badly you can taste it, you want to make sure it leaves a pleasant taste, not a sour one.

As a businessman I wanted success as a builder of homes. I could taste it; what I got was the sour taste of failure. Then I wanted success as a salesperson—so bad I could taste it. What I got was a pleasant taste of success—something to smile about. How did I learn about the taste test? Near where I grew up is a Capuchin monastery. I’ve known the friars for years. Father Solanus, a humble priest back then and a candidate for sainthood, kept me out of reform school and taught me that knowing exactly what I was wishing for was far different from wishful thinking. I’ve never forgotten his words. You may not have a Capuchin monastery near you, so I’ll let you borrow mine, as well as the good advice of Father Solanus.

One Christmas Eve years ago he said to me, “Be careful about what you wish for, Joe. You just might get it!” I was puzzled. It seemed to me that if I got what I wished for, I’d be very happy. It took me a while to realize what he meant. Years later, as a failed builder, I realized I had not known where I really was going. I remembered the good priest’s words, and my new resolve marked a turning point in my life. I have a sign on my office wall that reads: The secret of life is to know what you want, to write it down, then commit yourself to accomplishing it.

A wish might come true, but a wrong wish fulfilled can lead straight to nowheresville. So, know for sure where you’re going. Define your top, and then take the right steps to get you there. Don’t wish to get to the top. Wishing, hoping, yearning, aching, trusting will never get you there. You must set goals to achieve success. Goals that are unrealistic, far out, or wishful thinking are hard—if not impossible to achieve. The Step-at-a-time principle—small objectives along the way the way to the top, holds true for whatever major goal you desire in life.

Never stop refining your organization plan. Your goals and circumstances are continuously changing. What worked last year won’t necessarily work this year. Targets can change and move. Yours will too. Keep your eye on them at all times. You should continuously be refocusing and organizing your plan to hit those targets when they do change. As long as you plan where you’re going ahead of time, and know where you’re going, you’ll get there. If you don’t, then you’re LOST!