Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.
-Helen Keller

The following is an excerpt from Money Success & You, a book by John Kehoe.

19362576 - young man climbing natural rocky wall with tropical valley on the backgroundI love sailing. I have a beautiful 32-foot wooden schooner that was hand-built by a friend of mine who is a master West Coast craftsman. I go out in it as often as possible. Sometimes I’ll take the boat out in the afternoon and just sail around the harbor, back and forth, enjoying the sun and wind in my face. I don’t end up going anywhere, but that’s because I’m sailing just for the sake of sailing. Other times, I’ll take off for a week or more. Occasionally, even for a month or two. At these times I have a clearly defined destination. Each day I study the charts carefully before I begin and set myself a course for the day. I navigate. I choose and trim the sails according to wind conditions, correct my bearing and make changes as necessary. I watch for and recognize signs along the way, a reef here, an island there; at each point of the journey I try to establish both where I am and where I’m going. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. It can’t be done any other way. Imagine sailing off with no charts or no course, just with hope and determination that you will arrive. How ridiculous, and yet that’s what we do when we head off in life, hoping and wanting the best but setting no goals as to how to achieve it. Is it any wonder we don’t arrive? «The reason most people don’t achieve their goals in life,» remarked author and lecturer Dennis Waitley, rather dryly, «is because they didn’t have any in the first place.» Everyone wants to be healthy, happy, successful and hundreds of other things, but not everyone has goals that map out how they will achieve these objectives.

Are You Like Alice in Wonderland?

In Lewis Carrol’s classic Through the Looking Glass, one scene has Alice completely lost, not knowing which way to turn, so she asks the Cheshire cat, perched comfortably on a tree limb, for some help.

«Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?» asks Alice.
«That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,» replies the cat.
«I don’t much care where,» says Alice.
Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,» comes the reply.
«So long as I get somewhere,» Alice adds in explanation.
«Oh, you’re sure to do that,» grins the cat.

I love that. It’s so absurd and yet all too similar to the way we often live our lives. We make a tragic error when we mistake working hard and being busy with achieving goals. We assume that if we’re working hard we must be getting ahead. But working hard and trying to get ahead without specific, clearly defined goals on how to get there is living in a fool’s paradise. And the sooner we recognize this, the better.

What Do You Want Out of Life?

What do you want out of life? Do you know? If you’re not sure it’s probably time for some serious self-reflection. Each of us at certain times in our life need to stop and take stock of where we are and where we are going, to make certain that the direction our life is moving in is the direction we want. The goals you set for yourself will determine the circumstances and situations you will meet in life. This being so, choose wisely and pursue those things that are closest to your heart. I’m reminded of the saying, «A man climbed the ladder of success only to discover it was against the wrong wall.» Don’t make wrong choices in your life. Your goals should reflect your passions, your instincts, your vision.

A poet once wrote:

One ship drives east, another west
By the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails and not the gales,
That tell us the way to go.
Your goals, when pursued, set your sails and determine the direction you will go.

If you find yourself unclear on your own goals, set aside half an hour a day for at least a month. Give yourself this time. Don’t rush it. Each day, make a list of the five most important things you want to achieve in your life. Do this every day. The reason I say every day is that your list will change from day to day. Some items will seem important one day and not so important the next. Others will be repeated over and over. Doing this over a one-month period will make it possible for you to separate temporary desires from those that are truly important to you.

Here’s another method that will help you. Imagine you’re ninety years old, looking back at your life. What would you like to have seen happen? What would you regret most not doing? This exercise can help you get a clear picture of what you really want to do.

Have Large Goals

I discovered the power of large goals first-hand as I was about to embark on my first lecture tour of Australia many years ago. I was in Thailand when I phoned the Australian promoter who was organizing the tour. We had made an arrangement that she was to receive 20 percent of the profits for her work. I casually mentioned that I thought she would be making about $10,000 a month plus expenses. I thought she’d be very pleased. You can imagine my surprise when she said that wasn’t enough; what she needed to make was $20,000 a month, and that’s what she was counting on.

I didn’t know what to say. I knew the reality of the situation and what we’d probably be earning. I’d been in the business for many years and for her to earn $20,000 a month, I would have to make more than double what I’d ever made previously. I knew that was impossible.

I wrestled with this for several days. What were my options? I could pay her more and take a smaller percentage myself, or she could settle for $10,000. After all, it was a considerable wage. Nothing felt right until I realized that maybe, just maybe, it was indeed possible to make more money in Australia than I had anticipated.

I will forever remember the exact moment that this thought came into my mind, because it marks a turning point in my life. I was walking along the beach, while the sun was setting, when I suddenly thought, why not make twice as much money? It would solve the problem perfectly. I had until this point thought it was impossible, but something within me now said it was possible. And as the thought of earning twice as much money became a possibility in my mind, I became charged in a way I’d never experienced before. I felt more powerful than the setting sun. I was unexpectedly alive in a whole new way.

Over the next two weeks, as I walked the beaches, new ideas, new ways of marketing myself, new plans kept flooding into my mind. What had been totally impossible two weeks earlier was now not only possible, but even probable-if I followed my plan. I couldn’t believe the change.

We arrived in Australia and I had the most successful lecture tour of my career. The promoter got her $20,000 a month for the duration of the tour, and I earned more money than I’d ever made in my life.

However, I received something more valuable than the money. I learned that opportunities open up when you open up your thoughts. I knew this not as a concept, but as a reality. I had just watched it work for me in the most incredible way. Large goals have a momentum and power that give you the means to achieve them. Don’t waste your time asking yourself, «How am I going to do it? How will it happen?» Just make the decision to do it and then watch the ideas and plans follow.

Patanjali, author of The Yoga Sutras, and one of the founders of yoga in ancient India, put it this way: «When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations; your consciousness expands in every direction in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.»