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February 1, 2004
Are you and your organization under-achievers?
By Chief Ronald Richards

Regardless of whether you are in a career or volunteer fire department, it is usually your own personal development that stops you dead in your tracks. How you view the what's happening around you effects the most basic of personal development issues. 

By now you are probably thinking, "Oh no, not another one those setting goals stories...... I don't have time for this $%)#@!..."  Well, sorry to disappoint you. That's what this article is about.

If you don't set goals doesn't mean that you will be an absolute failure. Instead you will under achieve relative to what you could do. Goals let you visualize where you want to go. 
The under-achiever
Without goal setting you are you will be an under achiever. Likewise, if you are a manager or supervisor and if you don't set goals your organization will under achieve. Last but not least, if you don't set goals for your subordinates, they too will become underachievers...

Goal setting involves writing down what you want
Besides writing your goals down, need to repeating them in order to achieve your goal. Thoughts are energy and what you give energy towards becomes reality. You wonder why you don't get anywhere. WRONG! You do get somewhere. You get what you are picturing. You just don't see what you are creating. The solution is to master your mind and watch what you are thinking on a continual basis. The trick is to be able to do this and still carry on with your life.

Identify your long-term goals
You need to really take a long hard look at what you want your life to be like years from now. What do you want to accomplish? What will make you happiest? Once you figure out your big dreams and aspirations, you put them down on paper and they become goals.

Kill the procrastination bug
Plans and goals on paper are great. You've all heard, "we're good starters, but terrible finishers....." You need to become  more proactive. You now have your major task list and have your goal firmly planted in your subconscious. Now you have to figure out what you can do within the next 24 hours to start taking action toward your goals. Why the next 24 hours? You need to build momentum. Once you build momentum, you become more energetic and more invigorated. The second reason to take action within 24 hours is to kill the procrastination bug. If you wait to start, you may never begin.

Organizational stall tactics
Have you ever been at a meeting when a discussion takes place? There is the traditional bantering between the cliques and then someone says, "Let's get more information...." or "Let's form a committee to look into this..."

What is really happening? Stall tactics. No one wants to deal with the issue. No one want to take a position. The scapegoat is to form a committee to gather more information. Chances are, those appointed to the committee, don't want to be on it, so they will put forth little, if any effort.

We all have excuses as to why we can't do something. Anyone can give you a million excuses why something can't be done. Those same people who have all the excused haven't moved forward on their goals. Making up excuses takes a lot of energy and time. Instead of focusing energy on excuses that don't serve you in moving forward, make up excuses that inspire and enthuse you to do what you want to do.
About the author: Chief Ronald Richards has over 28 years of fire service experience, both career and volunteer. He rose through the ranks in the Forest City Fire Department, in Forest City, PA and became Fire Chief in 1995 holding that position through 2000 when he retired. He currently serves as the Chief for Training and Safety for Browndale Fire Company in Wayne County, PA. Chief Richards has over 24 years of service with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having served as a Fire Marshal with the Department of Public Welfare, a Fire and Safety Specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Currently, he is Superintendent Assistant  within the PA Department of Corrections, responsible for media relations, litigation coordination, accreditation, and the writing of policies and procedures. Chief Richards graduated from the State University of New York with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Service Administration.  Richards is a PA State Fire Instructor and an instructor with Command School.  He is the founder of 
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