Goal-setting is often promoted as the only way to get what you want. But here's the truth you don't always hear: Not everyone experiences great results from setting goals.

Honestly: what has been your experience? Has goal-setting always come through for you? Or have you become somewhat cynical about it? The Problem

My observation is that most people who set goals experience it more as a point of embarrassment than the point of empowerment it is promised to be. I've set hundreds of goals with very little to show for it. Yet for years, I continued to believe in setting goals - because sometimes I could see that they did indeed seem to make a difference. However, repeated disappointment will often lead people to resign from even trying; often they will drop out of the game altogether.

Goal-setting often discourages more than it empowers.

Can goals be useful? Absolutely. No question. Yet it appears that for most people, most of the time, they are more of a set-up for disappointment than for achievement. Is the problem intrinsic to the goal-setting process - or is it in the person setting the goal?

I say, neither. Goal-setting can indeed be good, and the failure of goals to produce fruit lies not necessarily with the person who set the goal. The real problem is this:

You were designed to be powerful. Don't settle for anything that does not bring out your full power. Goals will not do that for you. Your stand, your life purpose, and your commitment, will!
Goal-setting is usually impotent because by itself, without the proper context, it is inherently weak and incomplete.

It's like trying to use only one leg to hold up a table. Goal-setting is only a piece of the achievement puzzle. What's missing?

There are three dynamics missing for most people, without which a goal is worse than useless - it is damaging and disempowering. These dynamics (which I learned from my coach, Mike Smith) are:

1. Taking a stand

2. Creating a bigger context

3. Creating a real commitment

Essential #1: Taking a Stand

A goal is a statement of what you want - a word that means both "desire" and "lack." By its very nature, a goal serves as a reminder of what you do not now have. It is a statement of lack. There is no real power in that. A goal is also something you move toward - something in the future. There is nothing wrong with this - but again, it just isn't very powerful.

A stand is not something you lack, it is something you are. It also is not something you are moving toward, it is something which you are coming from.

For years, one of my goals was to become a great husband. And for years, I continually found myself embarrassed by my near-zero progress. But once I made being a great husband my stand, everything changed within 30 days - and my wife and others could see the shift.

In my stand, I hold myself to be a great husband in development. Will I express that nature inconsistently? Of course, because I am in development - but being a great husband is my natural state.

A human child is not becoming an adult - he or she is developing into maturity. A seed does not become something intrinsically different - it develops naturally into what it has been all along.

I have identified my top ten stands - I am also a stand for freedom, for contribution, for appreciation, et al. - and this has made a far greater difference for me than any goal ever did.

For what do you choose to take a stand?

Essential #2: A Broader Context

A broader context to a goal means, how does your goal fit into your life purpose? You may have a goal to earn $100,000 a month, yet unless that supports your larger purpose in life, the goal itself has little power. It's like trying to get a candle (the goal) to stand up straight without a candle holder (your purpose). Without that solid base, it just keeps falling over!

What is your life purpose? Do your goals serve that purpose, and if so, exactly how?

Essential #3: Creating a Real Commitment

A real commitment means a promise. Again: a goal is merely a statement of what you want or desire - but there is no power in wanting or desire. Everyone wants to be rich and thin. How many are either (let alone both!)?

In this business we often say that to succeed, you need a "burning desire." Well, a burning desire is great - but it is often a flame without fuel. How long will it last?

Goals are meaningless without a commitment. Yes, identifying what you want is critical, but wanting - even wanting very badly - means nothing unless you also make a commitment to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Most people avoid making promises or commitments because they view them as constraints, and they want to be "free." But a promise is not a constraint, it is you empowering yourself to achieve what you want. When you make a commitment, you are empowered to act. The power is in the promise.

Think of the power you would have if you promised someone you love, on his death bed, that you would fulfill his last request. That's the power you have available for whatever you want.

A goal may stir up some short-term excitement. A promise can direct you for the rest of your life.

To what will you commit yourself - today?

You were designed to be powerful. Don't settle for anything that does not bring out your full power. Goals will not do that for you. Your stand, your life purpose, and your commitment, will.

Ray Gebauer is a veteran networker.