THE BLOG

Goal Setter or Problem Solver?

06/30/2015 05:53 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2016

I know so many people who have hopes, dreams and aspirations yet they are not realized. My life as a pastor, motivational speaker and a writer is devoted to inspiring people to fulfill their dreams. What I have realized is far too many never actually make goals let alone write those goals down. A study of Harvard MBA students found those who had goals earned twice the amount of those without goals. A study at Dominican University in California found those who wrote down their goals had a 42 percent increase on goal achievement. So having goals and writing them down is clearly the pathway to dreams coming true.

Why don't more people have written goals? It is possible they don't know how to do it though that seems unlikely for most people. More possible is they don't want to take the time or put forth the effort to write down their goals. It may seem like too much trouble though the alternative is definitely not acceptable. Most likely they have had previous goals and they have not been achieved. There are many potential reasons for this and the solution lies in understanding how to set goals and see them fulfilled.

The issue may come down to the dichotomy between goal setting and problem solving. Those who are energized by establishing and achieving bold, new directives are goal setters. But if the plans for the future drain you of motivation and you're more of a here and now person then you are a problem solver.

Goal setters see future possibilities and the big picture. Problem solvers see the present situation and the details. Goal setters look for opportunities, may seem unrealistic and like to head in new directions. Problem solvers focus on roadblocks, may seem pessimistic and like to fulfill present commitments. Goal setters are comfortable with risk, prefer innovation and are energized by change. Problem solvers identify potential problems, prefer proven results and are uncomfortable with change. Goal setters love research, are creative and visionary. Problem solvers love routine, are adaptive and practical.

Identifying which you are is paramount to your success. But whichever you are the fact remains you must have written goals. Whether you like the term goals or prefer to think in terms of solving a problem is irrelevant. Both will arrive at a similar conclusion: results. If it is emotionally satisfying to reach a goal or solve a problem you still end up with progress. You have moved closer to achieving your dreams, hopes and aspirations. You have either removed an obstacle or discovered a new opportunity. Both get you there though by a different route.

Most everyone I know care deeply about their family. Some have resigned from leadership positions, left a job or moved to another part of the country for their family's best interest. Happy family life doesn't just happen. There must be goals to make it happy or problems that need to be solved for happiness. If you are a parent what can you do to make your family closer? The goal could be a weekly family night or an annual family vacation. The problem could be solved by eating dinner together five nights a week without television or having a special outing with each individual child. The result will be a happier family whichever path you take.

Finances are important to most people. Being in good financial shape is what many want. Goals can help to bring about financial security or financial problems can get solved. Saving ten percent of your income or having a plan for retirement are specific goals that lead to financial security. Establishing a budget or getting out of debt can right a sinking financial ship. Each approach supplies a secure financial future.

Whether you call it goal to accomplish or a problem to solve writing it down is the crucial step. They must be SMART -- specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed. What is the specific, tangible outcome you want to be accomplished? What is the definite measurable that it is being accomplished? How do you plan to accomplish it? Can it be reasonably accomplished? What is the time limit for it being accomplished?

A written system is best for monitoring your progress. Using charts or graphs is a great way to do this. Tracking your progress means asking yourself each day, "What can I do to move one step closer to achieving my goal or solving my problem?" Reviewing your progress each week is the only way to ultimately succeed. Goal setting and problem solving will make you a happier, fulfilled and purposeful person. Start today.