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Imagine arriving on the outskirts of a large city and being told to drive to a particular home or office there. But there are no road signs and you have no map. In fact, all you have is a very general description of the home or office, so finding it would be very much a matter of luck. Sadly, this is the way most people live their lives.
Most people start life traveling aimlessly through an unmapped and uncharted world. This is the equivalent of starting off in life with no goals and plans. They simply figure things out as they go along. Often, 10 or 20 years of work will go past and they will still be broke, unhappy in their jobs, dissatisfied with their marriages and making little progress. And still, they will go home every night and watch television, wishing and hoping things will get better. But they seldom do. Not by themselves.
Earl Nightingale wrote, “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal or goal.” Goals fulfill the greatest need of human beings—a sense of meaning and purpose in life. One of the great benefits of goal-setting is that you control the direction of change in your life. Setting goals, working toward them day by day, and ultimately achieving them is the key to happiness in life.
The starting point of goal-setting is to realize you have virtually unlimited potential to be, have or do anything you really want in life if you simply want it badly enough and are willing to work long enough and hard enough to achieve it. So, what do you really want to do with your life? What do you want to be or to have in life? You should return to this question over and over again in the months and years ahead. Remember, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. In more than 50 years of research, psychologists have determined that your locus of control is the determining factor of your happiness or unhappiness in life. People with an external locus of control—those who typically don’t set goals—feel controlled by external factors, by their boss, their bills, their marriage, their childhood problems and their current situation. They feel out of control, and as a result, they feel weak, angry, fearful, negative, hostile and disempowered. People who do set goals often operate with an internal locus of control—they feel in complete control of their lives. They feel strong, confident and powerful. They are generally optimistic and positive. They feel terrific about themselves and very much in charge of their direction in life.
Back to the Take Control of Your Life self-assessment quiz.