Another essay by Earl Nightingale from the How to Completely Change Your Life Series
What is Your Intermediate Goal?
Did you ever see Jack Nicklaus play golf? He was a golfing phenomenon never before seen in the world of golf, winning more major championships and money than any other golfer who ever lived. Yet if you watch him carefully, you can learn more than how to lower your handicap. You can learn a key strategy for success.
Each time Jack got ready to hit the ball, he'd have an intermediate aiming point, just a short distance from the ball. This intermediate aiming point was on line with the route he wanted the ball to travel. He would look down the fairway toward the green, then at the intermediate aiming point, then at the ball. His first task was to get the ball to pass over the intermediate point. If it did that, it would probably land very near the point on the fairway or green he had selected. It was always interesting watching his head and eyes move to the intermediate point, then to the distant point, then back to the intermediate point and back to the ball.
When he was ready, and not a moment before, he would uncork that legendary swing that left the gallery gasping and whooping with admiration and wonder. The ball would compress flat and be off and away on its considerable journey. It was the same with his short irons near the green. He always had an intermediate point with which he could line up his club head and the ball. We need intermediate aiming points, too, before we can successfully reach a substantial distant goal.
To write a book, one must write the first chapter, then the second, then the third, and so on. The book is first in outline form. The chapters are roughly sketched as to subject matter and content. One can get a mental picture of the book in final form with its color dust jacket coming from the printer; that's the goal. But first, there's that first chapter, then the second, and so on. Each chapter must be successfully completed as an integral part of the project before the project's complete.
And it's much the same with our big goals. All we can see is it as completed, with ourselves right in the middle of it. There we are; the job's done. That's where we want to land. But first there are the intermediate points to successfully complete. And it's the intermediate points that often prove too much or too difficult or too time-consuming for the person to spend all that time completing and polishing.
These are often the core skills, vital to the completion of the final project. Here we find the person who wants to amaze a friend through his skill at the piano but doesn't want to put in the time and effort to learn to play. This is the person who's forever looking for shortcuts. He or she daydreams, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the intermediate goals, ah, that's too hard or boring or time consuming. Want to write books? How about mastering the language first? Want to get rich in real estate? Study the business first.
The first step of the successful person is commitment. There are no ifs or buts about it. He or she is fully 100 percent committed to the achievement of the goal and willing to take whatever intermediate steps are required. When bridges are burned, there's no escape route on which to come tiptoeing back when things get rough. Commitment to all the intermediate goals, 100 percent. When that happens, the goal is as good as accomplished.
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