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April 2024
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From Wishes to Plans to Goals

By Richard Peck, DTM

Richard Peck smiling in suit jacket and red tie

We all have goals we’d like to achieve. They may be personal, professional, or Toastmasters ones. They may be short or long term. Goals are as unique as we are and achieving them is a mark of accomplishment. When competing in my first District-level speech contest I had two goals: 1) not to forget my speech, and 2) not to fall off the stage. They weren’t substantial goals, but I had been in Toastmasters for less than a year, and although I didn’t win the contest, I did achieve my goals and a sense of accomplishment.

Having a plan is key to increasing the likelihood of successfully achieving your goal.

Have you ever felt you weren’t able to achieve a specific goal? I have. Have you ever reflected on it and wondered why? I have. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, “was this a goal or merely a wish?” In Le Petit Prince, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” So, was there a plan in place to help achieve the goals or just a wish that they would happen?

Having a plan is key to increasing the likelihood of successfully achieving your goals. But don’t just make a plan, write it down. Otherwise, it’s too easy to forget things. A plan needs to have milestones to track your progress and adjust if necessary. You may be familiar with the term SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound), a popular goal-setting system. Other techniques include HARD (Heartfelt, Animated, Required, Difficult) and WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan). Try some different strategies and see which works best. 

Goal planning can also be used in a team environment. While working on your Area, Division, District, or club goals, be sure to apply a system to help you keep on track. If your objective is to become Distinguished, use goals to determine the steps it will take to get there. For example: If you need to charter 12 clubs, do you aim to charter at least one per month? And if you miss a month, can you charter two the following month? Where are the opportunities to charter? Ask the difficult questions and take a realistic approach. Although it takes time, putting together a well-thought-out plan will greatly improve your chances of success.

I encourage you to read the goal-setting article in this issue and use it to help create the plans to achieve your goals.

As Chinese philosopher Confucius wisely said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

I wish you much success and am confident that you will achieve whatever goals you plan for.

Richard E. Peck, DTM

Acting International President


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