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How thinking like a child can help any leader achieve more goals

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Becky Robinson is the director of social marketing for The Kevin Eikenberry Group and the owner and chief influence officer of 12 Minute Media. Follow Robinson on Twitter @beckyrbnsn, or read more of her work at or

Lucie, the daughter of an old friend of mine, wrote this list of “things I whant to do when I get older” [sic]. At age 8, she knows the first and most important rule about goal achievement: to accomplish your goals, first you have to set goals.

This picture captures the first of several pages of goals Lucie set for herself.

I imagine that Lucie sharpened her pencil, gathered supplies and sat down at her desk. She might have kept her list in a secret place, returning throughout the day or week to add items as she thought of them.

I picture her playing with her brother, suddenly running upstairs, closing her door tightly, and sitting down at desk again, bending over her paper to record a new goal idea.

Take a look at Lucie’s list, especially the structure of the list and the nature of her goals. I think Lucie can teach us some important lessons about how to set and achieve goals:

Write down your goals! Lucie wrote down all the goals — the lofty ones, the far-fetched ones, the simple ones.

Be clear about what you want. At age 8, Lucie is stating an intention to eat a cookie for breakfast. She may need to convince her parents, but I think she is likely to get what she wants — some day. I bet when her parents saw the list, they made a mental note to suggest cookies as a breakfast treat on her next birthday.

Include goals that are easily within reach. Lucie created many goals that she could reach. When she reaches those, she will have confidence to attempt some of the more difficult ones.

Dream big. Don’t be afraid to reach for goals that seem unreachable. Lucie wants to go to the North Pole. What would you like to do that seems impossible? What steps could you take toward that goal?

Record your progress. As you’ll notice, Lucie already marked one goal off her list. When you accomplish one goal, you will feel energized to move on to the next one. Putting a check in the box, literally or figuratively, will propel you to success with other goals.

Take a look at your past goals. As a young girl, I made lists like Lucie’s. They are long gone. Wouldn’t it be great if I could look back at them now? We can all get insight from looking at how our goals, both personal and professional, have shifted over time. Even if you can’t retrieve your long-lost lists, it may be helpful to remember goals you’ve set in the past. What worked for you in achieving past goals?

Refer to your list regularly. Don’t write down your list and set it aside. Print it out and post it beside your desk or somewhere else where you will see it every day. If you look at your list regularly, you will stay focused on achieving your goals. You could even ask yourself each day, “What can I do today to move closer to that desired outcome?”

As you look to a new year and new goals, sharpen your pencil, get a clean sheet of paper, and revisit your childhood for a fresh perspective on setting — and achieving — your goals.