Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals


image“Goals don’t care who has them.” — Zig Ziglar

I watched a video by Zig Ziglar on setting goals, and his goal setting formula has to be one of the most powerful and precise  that I’ve seen:

“Write it down, put a date on it, listed the obstacles I had to overcome, identified the people, the groups, the organizations I needed to work with, spelled out a plan of action, set that time limit in there, and identified all the benefits to me.  It was only when I did that, that the goal became a reality.”


  1. I first saw this when I was 19. It changed my life because I played it over and over and over and over and over again. Literally in my car driving from work to school, all the way back home. But when I had a girl in the car..i had to play some Marvin gaye..lol…goals are everything. Without them we have nothing. Great post.

  2. I agree on writing things down. That’s 90% of the battle for me.

    The other 10% is remembering where I put the note. 🙂

    But seriously, well stated in a neat nutshell!


  3. A good enforcement for Lincoln’s
    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

  4. J.D. Thanks for sharing that video. It actually is the first time I have seen it, but it really drives all the most important points home on why we need to set goals and how we should go about attaining them. Anyone can dream … but the question is can you also do what it takes to make your dream a reality. All great information. Thanks for passing it along.

  5. J. D. This is a fabulous formula! But, I have to agree with Jannie. Remembering where I wrote it down is often the challenge for me. Then remembering to actually look at it. I have one book I’m using this year. That helps. Now, onto the remembering to look bit!

  6. @ Jonathan — Zig really has a way of making his point sticky.

    @ Jannie — There’s a funny thing I noticed about writing goals down. Even if you can’t find them, something happens. I’ve seen a few of my friends stumble on goals they wrote years ago, only to find they had achieved their goals, but forgot they had them or even wrote them down. It’s like you told a part of you … “make this happen.”

    @ Alik — A lot of success really is about effective preparation.

    @ Sibyl — I was pleasantly surprised by Zig’s entertainment value. I really didn’t expect to enjoy a video on goals, it was like hearing an old song sung new.

    @ Sandra — That’s a good point. I should cover more of how to keep the information at your finger tips. One of the supporting practices in Agile Results is “One Place to Look.”

  7. J.D.,

    Great video! I forgot how inspiring Zig Ziglar can be. It is important not to get too busy where we neglect to identify and write down our goals. Like your earlier post, we have to know where we want to go if we ever want to get somewhere meaningful. Thanks for putting me back in touch with a forgotten sage.


  8. @ Robert — Writing is the key. I used to think of writing goals down as a chore, but I remember a big shift for me was when I wrote them down in a way that inspired me … like the promise of a better future.

  9. Zig Zigler is classic Americana. I first heard him when I was 15 years old. Took a while, at that age, to get use to his style – but now it’s one of my favorite. Thanks for sharing this piece because I’ve never heard it. He touches on a key subject matter for me so the advice was WELL taken. Thanks J.D.

  10. Hi JD
    Not been over for some time – can’t believe how you summed up the message in so few words.

    Zig Ziglar, one of the gians in Public Speaking and motivation.
    Thanks for a fantastic summary.

  11. Sorry for second comment JD
    It’s late and I’m rambling.

    Meant to add…
    What a fantastic job you’ve done with this site – Pagerank 5!

    Many many congratulations.

    I’ve just subscribed to your email subscription, I need to keep an eye on you. LOL

  12. Hi J.D.,

    I’ve read some wonderful quotes by Zig Ziglar, he’s great. His goal setting sounds like what I’ve done in the past and called setting intentions. If someone does go that route — and goal setting doesn’t work for some folks because it can feel so overwhelming — I’d add “make a public declaration.” That’s the only way it’s worked for me, when I said I’d do it in front of quite a few people. Otherwise, you can pretend you didn’t say it or rip up the paper.

    What really works for me — and we’re all different – is to follow my enthusiasm. I found, especially when I was younger, that many of my goals weren’t my own, they were more of the walking-in-lockstep variety. I bet if you drew up a list of the most mentioned goals, they’d be surprisingly similar. Natural or contrived? Not sure.

    My enthusiasm meter only goes off when I feel a genuine desire to do something, so I do it!

    Enjoyed thinking about this. Thx, G.

  13. @ Amit — Come to think of it, that’s the first time I saw him in action too. I was impressed. His style is different but his message is sticky.

    @ Karl — Setting dates is a very effective way to help scope, prioritize and take action.

    @ Keith — Zig’s the man. Now I get why so many people have referenced his wisdom and his work.

    Thank you. I was pleasantly surprised by the five, but I like the vote of Google confidence.

    @ Giuletta — I agree on the enthusiasm path, big time. While it’s possible to structure drivers and motivators, I’m a big fan of inspired action. I always find a way to create a “compelling why” to light my fire from the inside out. This keeps it meaningful and durable.

  14. Gee, this sounds so simple! 🙂

    What I love about this is that all of these steps are nurturing and feeding the goal. Just the act of writing puts the focus on it. I appreciate the part about being aware of the obstacles, too. Keeps things real. Thanks JD.

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