Dr. Doug Hirschhorn is a partner with the University of Miami Alumni Association, providing insight on excelling in your life and maximizing your potential. Send him your thoughts, comments and questions at alumniweb@miami.edu.


March 22, 2007 - A Journey to Greatness
April 19, 2007 - Why?
May 17, 2007 - Gaining Self-Awareness
June 21, 2007 - Taking the C.H.A.M.P. Approach to Setting Goals
July 19, 2007 - Taking Smart Risk September 20, 2007 - It All Comes Down to Accountability

June 21 , 2007

A Journey to Greatness

Taking the C.H.A.M.P. Approach to Setting Goals

Once you know where it is you want to go, you need to figure out a plan on how to get there.

Over the many years that I have been working as a peak performance coach, I have identified the number one reason why the vast majority of people never fully achieve their goals. The simple reality is because they do not know how to properly set them up.

You see, all goals should have two major parts, an outcome and a process. All of us are good at setting outcome goals such as to lose weight, pass an exam, start a business, stop smoking, increase earning power or improve at something. What we forget to take the time to do is establish process goals. Process goals are literally the building blocks of how you will go about achieving the outcome goal.

For example, if my goal is to get to the top of the Wachovia building in downtown Miami, then that would be an outcome goal. Now, odds are I am not going to just teleport there so I have to actually do something to make it happen. That little “something” is the process and in this situation it may be climb the steps, take the elevator or even scale up the side of the building. It really does not matter which since the only thing that does matter is that I focus on the process, one step a time, one floor at a time and eventually, I will reach the top of the building – goal accomplished.

I know what you are thinking…if the formula is so simple then why do many people fail to achieve their goals? The answer is because even though we know where we want to go, most of us take the wrong path to getting there and end up setting ourselves up for failure rather than success.

To help people overcome this barrier, I created my C.H.A.M.P. approach to setting effective goals. It is straight forward and all you have to do is make sure that each of your goals fit the criteria described in each of the five steps. Do this and you will not only be setting yourself up for success but well on your way to finally achieving those goals want to accomplish.

The C.H.A.M.P. Goal Setting Process
(Controllable, Hard, Accountable, Measurable and Positive)

Controllable means that all of the goals you set have to be entirely in your control. For example, if I am a very good baseball player and my goal is to hit .300 for the season, is this entirely in my control? Before you answer “Yes,” think for a second. The fact is there are other people and factors involved (injuries, coaches, umpires, pitchers, other players, weather, etc) which have a direct impact on my ability to hit .300. Instead, my goal should be to swing only at good pitches. That is something that is entirely in my control.

Hard means that all of your goals have to be slightly out of your reach that way you will continuously push yourself to newer and higher levels of performance. Once goals are no longer hard to achieve, then we tend to become complacent.

Accountable means that you need to either hold yourself or find someone else to hold you accountable to the goals and plans you establish. If you have great self-discipline then fantastic, but most of us need to answer to someone in order to keep pushing ourselves to higher levels. Remember one approach is not better than the other because at the end of the day all that matters is if achieved reached your goal.

Measurable means that you have to be able to measure your progress. One basic way is by keeping a daily or weekly performance journal. This is critical so you can track your progress and increase, decrease or modify your goal as you work towards achieving it.

Positive means that you have to think about and state your goals in a positive light. For example if you say the following, “My goal is to not have lower sales numbers than I did last quarter” then this would not be considered a “positive” goal. Instead, reword it to something like, “My goal is to increase my production by 25% from last quarter.” Laugh if you want, but many people make the huge mistake of injecting negative thinking into their goals – and they do not even realize it. As a performance coach, I have yet to see an elite performer achieve greatness by thinking negative thoughts. Negativity adds zero value and only hinders your ability achieve your goals so be aware of your thoughts.

Now that you understand the basic structure of how to set and achieve effective C.H.A.M.P. goals, I want to take a minute to talk about when you should start.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? I’ll start next week. I want to wait until after the weekend or after the holidays. That is going to be my New Year’s Resolution and so on and so on. Truthfully, I never really understood the point of these types of statements. Let me clarify. Obviously, I am 100% in favor of people making commitments but what I don’t understand is what makes next week, this Monday or January 1st so special that people decide that is THE day for them to begin.

My belief is and always has been that if you want to set a goal and make a change in your life, then start today, right now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not after the weekend and certainly don’t wait until January 1st rolls around. I once had a guy tell me that his New Year’s Resolution was to get in shape and start to eat right because his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were too high. I looked at him like he was nuts. He expected me to say something like, “That is fantastic, I am really proud of you. Good for you.” Why the look instead? Well, it was mid August when he told me this.

Fortunately my expression was enough and he realized the absurdity of his statement. It is unbelievable how common stories like this are and they just do not make sense to me. Hopefully after reading this month’s piece on how to set C.H.A.M.P. goals you will not wait to get started on your goals either. But trust me, if you need a little wake up call – feel free to drop me an email.

That’s it for this month. Thank you all for your feedback emails and I look forward to seeing you next month as I tackle how to overcome your fears so you can take smart risks and achieve greatness.