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A Single, Simple Rule That Will Change Your Life

by scott lochard

Rummaging through old photographs not long ago I found a picture of twin boys that lived next door while I was growing up in South Pasadena, California. The brothers, Steve and Willie; well weíd lost touch over the years but I found out that Steve had become a millionaire, Willie a miserable failure, a bum. Staring at that old snapshot I found myself wondering what made such a difference in the lives of two boys who had such apparently equal chances at success in life. After awhile it dawned on me, and it was a single simple rule.

Most of us grow up without learning even one or two of lifeís essential rules that could lead us to lifelong success. Perhaps, among other important rules many of us didnít learn was how to set and stay with clear and meaningful goals. Somehow Steve had. I remember when he said he was going to go to summer camp one year even though his parents couldnít afford it. He wrote his goal down; he put the camp flyer picture up on his bedroom wall; he even earned the money a month ahead of his self-imposed schedule. Not many of us learned how to do those things.

Goal setting or how to overcome adversity or even good investment strategies just arenít taught by most parents or schools. Thinking back, I cannot recall ever learning anything substantial about setting goals, not even from my high school coaches, one of whom was even a prominent coach. And you know, sadly, I never taught my own children the how and importance of good goal setting either, even though by then Iíd learned something about it and had practiced goal setting from time-to-time. But what if I could pass goal settingís elements along to you, here and now? Iíd like to try.

For goals to work for you they must have the following critical components: 

  • Written: a goal is only a dream if it isnít written down somewhere 
  • Specific: no foggy thought will ever get accomplished 
  • Measurable, you have to know when youíve reached your goal 
  • Achievable: your goals must be realistic, but please donít set your sights too low
  • Challenging: unless your goal challenges you, it is just another task; stretch yourself 
  • Time sensitive: goals are not goals without time limits

Almost twenty-five years ago I was affiliated with a small volunteer fire department that didnít offer emergency medical services but a good number of trained and willing members wanted to. Even so, we didnít have any equipment or supplies, we didnít have the support of our board of directors, and we didnít have a rescue vehicle. As a group we sat down one afternoon and before concluding our discussion, we set some goals; we wanted to be helping folks within six months.

I am as certain today as I was then that setting a goal is the reason we succeeded, and we did it ahead of schedule, within our budget, and we had raised money to spare. In fact, almost every single time I have ever written my goals, and I make sure to include all the elements of goal setting as laid out above, I have succeeded, usually I even do better.

How about you? Wouldnít your life take a turn for the better if you follow this formula for successful goal setting? Try it now; it is a single, simple thing you can do that will change your life.

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Fire Chief Scott Lochard (Ret.) is a leadership consultant who writes, consults and delivers motivational keynotes and seminars designed to make life in the workplace more fun and more productive. He may be contacted toll free at 866-698-2438 or by e-mail:

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