Maintain a Clear Vision of Your Goal

4 Minute Read

Dave is a huge fan of goals, mission statements and the like, and so is his friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Rabbi Lapin talks about goal-setting in his book Thou Shall Prosper, one of Dave's favorite all-time business books. Check out this small excerpt with some fantastic goal-related advice.

"You must have a vision of your goal. More important, you have to know when to focus on your goal and when to focus on the intermediate steps. Suppose your project is to build a house. Should you focus on the overall design and how it will integrate with surrounding scenery, or should you focus on finding a supplier for the bricks? In other words, vision or details? What would someone who aspires to leadership do?

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"Every Friday night, Jews sing a song welcoming the Sabbath by depicting the day as an approaching bride. One stanza concludes with these words about the creation of the Sabbath day: 'Last in deed, first in thought.' The idea is that although God only created the Sabbath after he had already concluded His work during the first six days of creation, the Sabbath had been in His mind from the outset. This is why Hebrew affixes no names to the days of the week, preferring instead to refer to them as day one, day two, and so on. The idea is that if named, each day could be said to have its own existence as a disconnected and independent entity. However, by being numbered, each day exists only as a link to the sequence of numbers that concludes with number seven—the Sabbath. In other words, the purpose of Sunday, Monday, and so on, is primarily to lead to Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. In this way, God is not seen as having run out of steam on the sixth day and, having nothing else left to create, deciding to declare the next day a Sabbath. Instead the Sabbath is seen as an intrinsic part of the entire creation plan, although it was the last project in the creation. This tradition is kept alive by those words in the Sabbath welcome song, 'Last in deed, first in thought.'

"More important, those words are also a guide as to the proper time for ultimate-vision, goal-oriented thinking. It should be last when you are engaged in deed, but first when you are engaged in thought. Do you remember that house? While designing it, think of its ultimate usage. Consider what it will look like up there on the hill. Should you include the existing trees in the final landscape? Now is the time to think about it. But soon the design phase will be complete and the blueprints drawn. Now it is time to begin grading the lot and digging foundations. At this deed phase of the project, contemplation of the final picture is merely daydreaming. Now there is work to be done, and that comes most easily when you focus on each step that lies ahead.

"Thus the answer to the original question is that you should be able to focus on both the goal and on the intermediate steps. To begin a software design project or a business plan, you must focus on your ultimate goal. You must then break down that goal into intermediate phases, ensuring that each phase links seamlessly with those around it. Then, you need to break down each phase into specific tasks, each of which can be tackled without any distraction from the bigger picture. At regular intervals, you should glance up at the bigger picture to make certain that you are still on course. People are more liable to follow people who demonstrate that they know where they are headed as well as knowing how to skirt or overcome the obstacles on the way. I cannot tell you exactly how to apply this principle in your life and in your career, but I can assure you that no matter what your occupation may be, there are opportunities to do so."

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Excerpted from Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money 2nd edition by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Copyright (2010) by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Published by John Wiley & Sons. Used with permission.

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