If you are a sales or business professional, goal setting has hopefully already become a part of your life. I’ve personally always felt a bit uncomfortable with the goal setting process. I think what bothers me most is the way most goal-setting programs are taught.

You might be familiar with the SMARTER goal-setting system, which is a popular model used and referenced by many people. The acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Sensitive, Ethical/ Exciting, and Resources. You can find this goal-setting and action-planning system referenced in most motivational and personal improvement books and resources. This system has a terrific structure, and I think it’s brilliant.

However, it’s missing some crucial elements. It does not take into consideration the personality or temperament, work style, and overall belief system of a motivated, action-oriented, non-process thinking individual. After all, successful sales people are action-oriented people, aren’t they?

Action-oriented people prefer the Ready-Fire-Aim approach to tasks, versus Ready-Aim-Fire. They have choleric and sanguine temperaments by nature. According to the ancient Greek’s Humorism theory of temperament, cholerics are doers and leaders with take charge personalities. Sanguines are confident socializers who can be spontaneous and indulgent. They have the ability to utilize resources quickly to get things done.

True to their temperaments, action-oriented people take on great responsibility and have no problem with acting on an instinct or “firing” first, then seeing how the event turned out. The result of taking action for a sales or business professional might be as great as a closed sale or simply establishing a great business contact. By being action-oriented, they are able to get the ball rolling and readjust their aim or strategy based on what was learned by taking the action.

Process-oriented people are great people too, but not so when it comes to achieving their goals. Process-oriented people tend to have melancholy and phlegmatic temperaments. They are detailed, wonderful with words, and excellent strategists. They are also calm and content with a shy nature that can often inhibit enthusiasm in others, making themselves lazy and resistant to change. They lack the initiative needed to take action on their goals. In a professional or business setting, they can take so long to prepare their aim that by the time they’re ready to fire, the target has moved and an opportunity has passed them by.


In Jack Canfield’s book,The Success Principles, he says that winners take action. He relates a story of two young students that were home from college on summer break and needed to find a job quickly to afford their summer vacation. One student began collecting all newspaper classified ads, taking notes, studying ads, putting together his plan of attack on which jobs he would call first. The second student grabbed the classified ads and began calling the phone numbers immediately. By the next day, this student had secured a summer job while the first student took an entire week to land a job. Which student do you think outperformed the other?

I want to make it clear that I do use a goal-setting system. I write my goals down on paper and I work out an action plan with steps on how I will achieve them. I use the principles behind the SMARTER goal-setting system. The difference is that I’ve made this system my own.

I visualize my goals in my mind before it hits the paper. I don’t rely on the SMARTER goal sheet to plan my goals and actions, and I don’t take much time on the process. I carry my goals with me every day and if I realize that I need to reassess something in my plan, I just do it. I don’t consider my goals to be written in stone. I will modify my actions, my time frames, my resources, and even my goals according to my life’s priorities. I make my goals a living, breathing part of my life and allow them to change and grow with me.

I believe in the SMARTER goal-setting and action-planning systems, but I am not reliant on the system to be successful. I consistently accomplish my personal and professional goals because I am action-oriented. I believe in the power of getting off my butt and making something happen! I take the plunge, jump into my goals, and look forward to my results. The way I look at it is that if I am still breathing and taking action, I can’t fail.

Publication date:03/09/2009