Peter’s Principles on Personal Development, Module 3: Goal Setting

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By Jay P. Mazurowski, CRA, FAHRA

December 2010Many successful people work hard to research, develop, and hone the skills and talents necessary to catapult them to greatness, while others innately understand many of the principles required to realize their vision. In either case, success is only achieved though planning, action (learning), and persistence. “Peter’s Principles on Personal Development” is a four-part series that parallels a young boy’s journey to the Broadway stage with the same personal development skills employed by millions of successful business leaders.

What great things would you attempt if you were guaranteed success? Would you become a CEO? Run your first marathon? Write the great American novel? If you know the answers, you can have these things. The question is: how badly do you want them and how hard are you willing to work to get them? The only limitations to attaining your goals (provided your goals are based in reality) are in your own mind and the only thing holding you back is you!

Goal setting is perhaps the single most important skill that a person can learn and perfect. Every high performing person, either consciously or subconsciously, is a driven goal setter; they are constantly working toward and motivated by compelling and challenging goals.

My thirteen-year-old son Peter’s vision was to one day perform on Broadway. He hung a sign over his bed that read simply, “Broadway” to serve as a constant reminder. It was the first thing he saw when he woke up and the last thing he saw before going to bed. With his target clearly established, all he needed was a plan of action, a set of goals.

In order to bring his vision of performing on Broadway closer to his reality, Peter began to attend master classes and dance intensives outside of his dance school, which offered new and different styles and influences in order to expand his dance prowess. He began to participate in local theater groups to hone his acting skills and soon found a vocal coach expert in musical theater. He created a step-by-step plan—a series of smaller goals—designed to bring him closer to his major goal.

Systematic goal setting (or more simply, creating clear, written plans) will help you achieve the things you want faster than any other method you may have tried. Becoming proficient at goal setting is something that you absolutely must do if you want to fulfill your potential as a productive, high achieving professional. Even if you have never before set goals for yourself, the moment you begin to systematically work towards clear, specific written goals, your performance will begin to improve dramatically.

Research suggests, however, that very few people have written goals and even less review or update their goals regularly. But why do so few people set goals? One obvious reason is because they simply don’t know how. Goal setting is not something that has been traditionally taught in public school systems. Another reason is a lack of understanding of the importance and effectiveness of goal setting in improving performance. But, perhaps the most common reason, and the one we’ll focus on here, is self-doubt and fear of failure.

Fear of failure can cause people to become fixated on the obstacles in their path so much so that they frequently abandon their goals altogether. The irony here is that failure is actually almost a prerequisite to success. That is, it is generally not possible to succeed without first failing—perhaps over and over. A key to successful goal setting and attainment lies in understanding that temporary setbacks and obstacles are inevitable parts of the process.
Peter’s first attempt at a national dance title (a goal for his resume) earned him the prize of first runner up. Although we were amazed that his first attempt was so successful, in Peter’s mind he didn’t reach this particular goal; he failed—he didn’t win the title. The next year, a bigger and more challenging competition yielded the exact same result: first runner up. In less than a year, however, through persistence, determination, and a bit of re-tooling, he won a national audition and was cast in a major Broadway musical as the lead.

Any goal of significance is commonly preceded by failure. Important to remember though is that most failure is temporary and is only permanent when it is accepted as such. Failure is often an indication that your plans are somehow flawed. This is the time to review and revise your goals. The key is to learn from, rather than become distracted by, failures, obstacles, and roadblocks; keep on keeping on.

There will always be obstacles between you and your goals, and generally speaking, the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Successful people are simply those who have persevered long enough to overcome their adversities in order to accomplish their goals.

Goal setting should be considered a critical skill for success. So determine exactly what it is you want to accomplish, write it down (many people never take this first step), and resolve to pay the price. Then put forth the effort, sacrifice, and perseverance needed, and go get it.

Jay P. Mazurowski, MS, CRA, FAHRA is director of radiology at Concord Hospital in Concord, NH.  Jay was the recipient of the 2009 AHRA Gold Award, as well as a past president of the AHRA Board of Directors and a contributor to both Link and Radiology Management.  He can reached at

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