A goal without a plan is just a wish

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christopher Jackson
  • 71st Security Forces Squadron commander
A wise commander once told me that you miss 100 percent of the shots that you do not take.

He was not referring to basketball games or golf, firearms or call of duty.

Can you imagine what professional basketball would be like if Michael Jordan had given up on playing when he was cut from his high school varsity team as a sophomore?

Or where would our technology be if Steve Jobs had given up after being fired from Apple -- the company he founded at age 21?

Michael Jordan and Steve Jobs not only persevered from their failures, but changed the way we look at sports, listen to music and communicate on a daily basis. It can be said that Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan were successful leaders in their organizations not because they achieved acclaim, but because of how they overcame the many trials and tribulations early in their careers.

One thing that many CEOs, athletes and military leaders possess is vision. This vision comes in the form of goal setting.

Many of these leaders never plan on being the greatest basketball player of all time, or a successful CEO of a large company. They simply set long-term and short-term goals along the way, and before you know it, they leave a lasting legacy.

Think of your personal and professional goals like dots on a map. You start in one place and end in another. But take a look at all the space in between those two points. Chances are there might be a lot of space in there for you to add waypoints along the way, or change directions based on your professional or personal needs.

Most successful leaders, athletes and scholars do not get that way based on luck. Many of them plan the route to success which is accompanied by hard work, perseverance, and successes and failures.

Henry David Thoreau once said, "Never look back unless you are planning to go that way."

The feeling of failure and rejection can be devastating and embarrassing, but some of the most successful people in history have failed -- more than once.

Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination and did not have good ideas. Thomas Edison made more than 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb before succeeding. Steven King threw his book, "Carrie," into the trash after it was rejected by publishers.

Your life and your career won't take care of themselves. You have to take control of them. Start by thinking long term and determining the overall direction and place that you want to end up.

Your goals may include becoming a chief master sergeant, a husband or a wife, father or mother, or saving enough money to retire young.

Set your goals, and then mark the waypoints with smaller goals that will get you there over a period of time. Your period of time could be as short as a few weeks or as long as several decades.

Then start holding yourself accountable with each small goal while keeping the large one in mind.

Lastly, like any good Airman, check your progress along the way.

An important thing to consider is that your goals may change along the way, and that any long-term goal does not happen without hiccups along the way. Also, remember that if your goals change due to life events, or a change in heart, that is OK. Set new ones to strive for.

A goal without a plan is nothing but a wish!