On Target

Okay, it’s the 21st January. Who’s already broken their New Year’s resolutions? Who even bothered making any?

The truth is, resolutions are so easy to break that we take them less and less seriously with each passing year.  We’re creatures of habit, aren’t we?  And our habits – good and bad – are really rather comfortable, especially compared with the effort involving in making change. It’s all a bit too much.

Like most people, I’d never given much thought to my resolutions. Eat sensibly, get fit, read more uplifting literature, be more organised… Never happened! Then, about three years ago, I read something that had a profound impact on me.

I read about a poll that was taken of the 1953 graduating class at Yale University to see how many of the students set goals for their lives. Nearly two thirds said they didn’t set goals, while another third said that they had general goals, but they weren’t set in stone. Only 3% of the students said that they wrote down and regularly reviewed their goals.

Twenty years later, they were all contacted again and it was found that the 3% who had written their goals had amassed more wealth than the other 97% combined. Okay, vast wealth isn’t most people’s number one aim in life, but, in this case, it was an excellent illustration of the importance of physically writing down our goals and regularly reviewing them.

How many of you do this? Regularly review your written goals?

Until I read about the Yale poll, I’d never written down my goals, let alone reviewed them. In fact, I’d never really had any goals. I’d coasted through my life without giving any thought to what I actually wanted. All the dreams I’d had were still dreams because I had done nothing towards making them reality.

I started to think about what I really wanted from my life. I wrote down random thoughts, passing fancies, elusive dreams whenever they occurred to me. Eventually, I could see there was a pattern to my scribblings, and I was able to see what was really important to me, what my goals really were. I was able to write down real goals – and that’s what I did – and I regularly reviewed them.

It wasn’t a generic to do list. It was a powerful tool – a to be list.

I found myself achieving my short-term goals and growing closer to my medium and long-term goals. And I made some important discoveries:

Resolutions and goals can be made at any time of the year, not just January. I add things to my to be list all the time.

And it doesn’t matter if I break my resolutions and fall from grace. I’d just call it a hiccup and carry on the next day.

And a goal isn’t impossible just because it’s impossible right now. One of my goals was to join Toastmasters, but I was teaching my son at home during the day and working in the evening. When my circumstances changed , I joined Toastmasters – and fifteen months later, I’m delivering my No 10 speech. Another goal achieved.

This was amazing stuff. I decided to find out more about the Yale university poll. And this is what I found out. It’s an urban myth. It didn’t happen. The story isn’t true.

But it should be. Because it works.

I didn't write this speech until a few days before delivery and as I gave the speech, I added more ad hoc, because I wanted to move away from my usual scripted speeches and involve the audience more. As a result, I was far more animated and aware of my audience, which was good. Unfortunately, I still used my notes as a crutch, which gives a "lack of rehearsal" image which just wasn't true. Next time, I promise not to take them with me! I think it was a good speech, but I could have delivered it better. Nerves got to me, I'm afraid. The more speeches given, the higher the audience expectation, the greater the desire to improve, the higher the nerves. Vicious cycle. The icebreakers are the easiest speech to give.



"Good research and communication of information. Maybe a little more fluency but otherwise a very enjoyable and instructive speech."

"Great topic. Inspirational and endearing and engaging. Preparation a bit more. Could have added passion."

"Great use of audience with questions. It worked naturally. What is good is that you have tried these theories yourself and not just telling us about it. Great twist as you expose untruth!! You have inspired us."

"Amusing. Good personal experience. Good twist in the tale. Would have been even better without notes."

"Great speech. What an unexpected flip at the end. You achieved your objective. I feel inspired and motivated."

"Great speech. Congrats on the CTM. I heard that myth too. Well delivered and great execution."

"I thought Tessa's speech was very inspirational. The subject matter was very apt given the new year has just come and gone."

"Motivational stuff. Well done Tessa. A shameI missed your other nine speeches."

"Such and important thing to do and it works. Congratulations on your CTM."