Goal setting is deliberately deciding what you’re going to get used to in the future and then assimilating that decision, that standard, into your mind. Once you assimilate the new standard into your mind, then as you look around, you see all the things wrong with the present situation. They used to be all right. But as you visualize the new, you become very dissatisfied with the old. That’s the process.

Here you are, comfortable in current reality; but then you have this vision up here, and you set a goal. You become dissatisfied with the standard of excellence that presently exists.

Current reality is the key to helping you realize your visions and achieve your goals. It’s the combination of looking squarely at current reality and holding a vivid mental picture of your goal that stimulates the creative dissonance energy you need. Some people will set a vision or a goal, and then build a scotoma to current reality. Then they’ll wonder why they aren’t getting there. They won’t look at the real score of the game; they won’t check the chart to see how their sales are really going; they won’t step on the scale to see their real weight. “Don’t tell me the truth. It stings too much.”

Once we set a vision of how we’d like things to be, and we look squarely at the way they are, we’re going to experience the string of negative feedback the sense of incompletion or contradiction. That’s why most people are reluctant to venture out of their comfort zone to change.

As you raise the level of your expectation and your standards of personal excellence, you become increasingly discontent with the status quo. What was good enough for you last year will no longer satisfy you today: “That’s not the way things are supposed to be. Straighten up the mess!” But, if you allow dirty laundry to stay stacked in the hall and you let the roof leak, you’ll tolerate it, get used to it, and lose the motivation to change it. In fact, very soon you won’t see the mess anymore.

The goal comes first, and then you see.

You open up your awareness to the information you need to the “how”simply by deciding what’s important.

Of course, threats get through, too. One time I was flying from Seattle to our ranch in Twisp. All of a sudden, I woke up because the engine shut off. Silence can wake you up if it’s a threat.

A friend of mine, a policeman in Detroit, told me about some tough bars he used to have trouble in all the time. There’d be arguments and brawls and people busting things up. My friend and his partner used to go in with shotguns, and they’d yell, “Police! Knock it off! Sit down and shut up!” Nobody paid attention.

what you want

One time, my friend and his partner went into this bar during a fight, and my friend loaded a shell into his shotgun. All of a sudden, total silence. The place froze. My friend couldn’t figure it out. But from then on, he kept doing the same thing and it worked every time. Finally, he figured it out. The threat got through. In the past, when he went in there and yelled, “Police! Knock it off!” no one heard. But the much less noticeable sound of a single shell being pumped into his shotgun, everybody heard. Threats get through.

Great athletes use this system to their advantage. Some players can’t tell what is important, so they don’t filter out the junk. That’s one reason why a rookie quarterback will often be blind to receivers standing wide open in the end zone. He hasn’t filtered out the distractions, so he sees everything; he’s not focused only on what he needs to see.

An excellent quarterback knows exactly what to let through. Even though he’s immersed in feedback from 80,000 people yelling all around him, when he drops back to pass, he focuses instantly. Like one of those automatic zoom lenses, his consciousness zooms in on his primary receiver in the end zone. Then, click, he spots his secondary receiver open on a curl. Click, out of the corner of his eye, he finds his halfback open in the flat. And while he’s busy seeing his open receivers, he starts sensing the threats. Five yards to his left, he “feels” a 300-pound defensive lineman charging in, ready to rip his head off. He also sees two linebackers breaking free of their blocks.

He sees value and he sees threats; he builds scotomas to everything else. He doesn’t see the crowd, the vendors, the cheerleaders, the officials, the players on the bench. There could be the players frothing at the mouth to kill him, but as long as they’re being blocked, he doesn’t need to see them. You could offer this guy a million dollars to describe the umpire standing three feet away, and he wouldn’t win his money. He might be looking right at the umpire, but he won’t see him. No value.

Peak performers are vision-oriented, goal-oriented, and end-result oriented even though they presently don’t know where the information and resources they need are coming from. Mediocrity demands the evidence before building belief: “Show me. Where’s it coming from? How will we do it?” High performance operates in the reverse: belief without evidence. Once you set a specific goal, you have the belief the faith that you’ll find what you need and then the evidence starts shooting through. If you don’t have faith in how you work, you don’t see the evidence.

In summary, the main reason you set goals is to transcend your current reality.

If you visualize the goal as if it’s already been achieved, you will then find what you need to achieve it. Most people base their future only on what they know presently. If they can’t figure out how they’ll achieve a goal based on their present resources and skills, they’ll say, “Well, we can’t do it yet,” and they’ll back the goal up closer to their present reality: “We have to wait a few months before we go ahead.”

The process of goal setting increases your awareness to information and resources in your environment that will help you achieve the desired outcome or goal.

So where do you want to grow? Wherever it is, you’ve got to make yourself discontent with the present by visualizing the new. How much money is good enough for you? What quantity and quality of product service is good enough for your company? What kind of relationship with your parents is good enough for you? How much abuse do you take in your marriage before you decide, “This just isn’t good enough?” You have the ability to create and achieve almost anything. What stops you is that you allow your creative dissonance to shut off. But if you control it through imagery, you can boost yourself to any new plateau you choose.