This article originally appeared on Forbes/Leadership
By Keld Jensen
If you’re not reaching your goals, here’s an unusual piece of wisdom from the man who scored the most. Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, once said, “A good hockey player skates where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
What exactly did he mean? He elaborated in another interview, “Some say I have a ‘sixth sense’ . . . Baloney. I’ve just learned to guess what’s going to happen next. It’s anticipation. It’s not God-given, it’s Wally-given.” His father, Walter, used to shoot the puck along the boards and go skating after it. Then he’d return to the same spot and say, “This is how the smart player does it.” He’d shoot it the same way again, only this time he would move much quicker by cutting across the ice and picking it up on the other side.
Despite not being the fastest or strongest skater on the ice, Gretzky was able to outmaneuver his competitors because he knew where he was going. While most hockey players reacted moment to moment, Gretzky always acted based upon where he thought the puck would be a few seconds later.
Regardless of what professional field you are in, Gretzky’s advice is your answer to achieving more success. Life moves fast. Are you thinking a few moves ahead or are you simply reacting to the market and to the actions of those around you? Your answer will dramatically impact your career path and possibly the entire industry or world around you.
While hockey goals are a result of spilt-second decision making, professional goals often take time and planning. That’s why, in addition to creativity and forward thinking, it helps to make your goals concrete. While there has been controversy about its effectiveness, writing down your goals does raise your chances of achieving them. Isn’t that amazing? Simply write your goals on paper and you’ll be more successful in life. This conclusion is backed by research. And it didn’t come from Harvard or some other Ivy League school; it came from the Dominican University of California.
In the study, they found that those individuals without written goals only accomplished 43% of their goals while those who simply wrote them on paper increased their success to 61%. They knew where they were skating to! The researchers also found that by taking additional steps, such as making a public commitment and sending weekly progress reports to a supportive friend, they were able to boost goal completion to an astonishing 76%. In other words, increasing success was not just a result of defining the objective; it was also about becoming more transparent and accountable.
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