The first practice of successful people and maybe the most important is the setting of goals and intentions. You’ll find this emphasized in basically every “how to” book written by every expert on personal effectiveness and success.
Here’s what I’ve picked up from my own experience. Point number one is to write down goals and intentions every day. So I write down the things I want to achieve or attain by the end of the day. Now in many cases what I want to attain is not a goal (i.e., something measurable) but is more of an intention. For example, before I dive into my work each morning at the office, I usually take 3-5 minutes to write down my goals and intentions. I’ve found if I don’t do this first thing before I jump into my projects and start responding to email, it’s likely that I’ll forget about it entirely. And the day will not go so well for me. So the key thing here is to do this first thing before you dive into your work!
Another thing I’ve realized is that setting intentions can be just as valuable as setting goals. Goals are things you can measure and quantify. So you know very clearly whether you attain your goal. Intentions are broader than goals and do not necessarily have measurability (is that a word?).
For example, a good intention to start your day with is to “give it your best” all day long. No matter what life dumps on your doorstep, your day will go a hundred times better if you resolve to respond in the best way possible.
Now at the end of the day, you don’t have a quanitifiable way of measuring this. But at the end of the day, you can assess how you handled things and can get a sense for when you were really on top of things (giving it your best) and when you were not. So you can still assess how well you were demonstrating what it is you intended to demonstrate, but you can’t necessarily quantify it. So that’s how I describe the difference between a goal and an intention—both are valuable and important.
There are many excellent books out there on goal setting. Recently I got an audiobook by Brian Tracy called “Goals!”. It’s a great book and I’ve been evangelizing it quite a bit to family and friends. As far as setting intentions, Wayne Dyer has a book called “The Power of Intention.” Dyer is a spiritual teacher who targets open minded, progressive people from all walks of life. Brian Tracy is a coach who targets people in business, sales and entrepreneurship. Dyer is much more philosophical and lofty whereas Tracy really gets to the point and has a focus and succinctness to his writing.
In summary, success principle / practice # 1 is: write down your goals and intentions each morning before you dive into your work. At the end of the day, assess how you did. Do so and reap the benefits!