It intrigues me – there is so much written on goal setting – and so little written on the much more important subject of goal getting. A client, Mike, recently told me that he’d been told, by his first mentor in business, that success comes from constantly setting goals. However, Mike soon came to the conclusion that, if you’re constantly setting goals, you end up living in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction – because you’re always looking forward to your goal, rather than living life to the full in the here and now. Surely, rather than constantly setting goals, you should constantly be achieving them. And not too many people know how to do that – otherwise surveys wouldn’t constantly suggest that most people are unhappy!

The happiest people in the world are those who are constantly achieving – read the research from the Universities of Chicago and Milan, most easily accessed in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book ‘Flow’. Most of the case studies centre on what might be described as people who are in the peak performance zone and who, as a result, have real and concrete results to show for it. These real and concrete results, however, are not the luxury yachts, beachfront condos or fast cars that the average personal development ‘guru’ peddles as being the important things to achieve in life. Highly successful people’s real and concrete results come in the form of the satisfaction of a job well done. And that job could be anything – from turning a nut on a production line, to milking the cows in the morning.

Goal achievement, success and personal satisfaction have been hijacked by the personal development and self improvement industries. Google ‘Personal Development’ and you’ll see what I mean – sparklingly white-toothed, deeply tanned gurus peddling financial freedom and material wealth. From where I’m sitting, observing the consequences of an over-focus on material wealth in my native country of Ireland, I would have thought that even the normal muddled mind might have grown a little suspicious of the race for material wealth, thinking that it would bring you happiness.

All that glitters is not gold. The secret to happiness and success lies in the personal satisfaction that comes from actually achieving your goals. This is quite different from the normal approach to goal setting that implies that you will only be happy when you achieve your goal – the subtle implication being that, right now, you’re not happy. However, it is an eternal truth that you can only be happy in the here and now. Think about it, when else did you think that you might actually be and feel happy? And the funny thing is that, if you know how to be happy in the here and now, the achievement of your goals becomes effortless. Why? Because if you’re immersed in the here and now, you do whatever you’re doing to the very best of your ability. Contrast this with the normal fractured mind – one part is trying to do what has to be done now, another part is looking forward to the future (even if it’s only a pint with the lads on Friday night), whilst another bit is constantly droning on about how miserable life is at present. That normal state of mind – one with which we’re all afflicted to a greater or lesser extent – is the recipe for the disaster that most people call everyday life.

Contrast the normal state of mind with a focused state of mind – a mind that is not fractured, a mind which is immersed in what it’s doing and, as a result, has concrete results to prove it. In other words, you achieve your goals by focusing your mind – not on your goals but on what you’re doing right here, right now. Sure, you need to have some general idea of where you want to go in life – but the more general the better because, when our goals are too specific, we blinker ourselves to all the potentially better opportunities that are all around us. But beyond having that general idea of what you want out of life, what you’ve got to realize is that that life you’re talking about can actually only be lived in the here and now. You’d better start living it!

In a nutshell, you will achieve happiness and success through focus on the here and now. Proper focus will ensure that you don’t waste your time – a constant source of frustration to those who are trying to improve their lives. Proper focus will ensure that, right now, you’re doing the most appropriate thing that you could be doing. Proper focus will ensure that you’re doing that appropriate thing to the best of your ability. As a result, you’ll have concrete results to show for it and an inner satisfaction that’s foreign to the normal forward-looking mind. Above all, proper focus will open your mind to the reality of the here and now – with all its possibilities, opportunities and potential. In other words, proper focus will open you up to taking directions far more exciting and rewarding than the normal goals you would have set for yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and published author he now lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. All his work, his weekly Free Personal Development Ezine videos and articles, together with his highly-acclaimed Personal Development Workshops are online at Gurdy.Net