There is a saying, “without a vision, people perish”.

In my experience, this is true. Many times, people don’t perish on the outside, but they do perish on the inside. It was Thoreau who said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”!

We all need to have a vision to avoid perishing in some way or other. We all need as men, to find the song in us and let it out. When we find our song, we find our vision.

Another way of talking about a vision is to use the term goal-setting.

Setting a vision can sound a bit high and mighty, but surely setting goals is something we can all achieve.

So why do we have trouble setting goals?

Brian Tracy is widely regarded as one of the world’s experts on goal-setting. In his great article on the subject, “Success in Goal-Setting Part One”, he gives the five reasons why people don’t set goals and how you can reverse the negatives and turn them into positives.

According to the best research, less than 3 percent of Americans have written goals, and less than 1 percent review and rewrite their goals on a daily basis. So the reasons why people don’t set goals have been of considerable interest to me. I think that there are five basic reasons why people don’t set goals.

The first reason is that they are simply not serious. Whenever I speak with a man or woman who has achieved something remarkable, I learn that the achievement occurred after that person decided to “get serious.” Until you become completely serious and totally determined about your goals, nothing really happens.

The second reason why people don’t set goals is that they don’t understand the importance of goals. We find that young men and women who begin setting goals very early in life invariably come from families in which the importance of goals is emphasized. The discussion that takes place around your family dinner table is one of the most powerful formative influences in your life. If your parents didn’t have goals, didn’t talk about goals, didn’t encourage you to set goals, and didn’t talk about people outside the family circle who had goals and were moving toward a higher level of achievement, then you very likely grew up with the idea that goals are not even a part of normal existence. This is the case for most people. And for many years, it was the case for me.

The third reason why people don’t set goals is because they don’t know how to do it. One of the greatest tragedies of our educational system is that you can receive 15 to 18 years of education in our schools and never once receive a single hour of instruction on how to set goals.

Yet we find that in certain schools where goal-setting programs have been introduced since first grade, young people become excited about goal-setting — even if the goal is only to increase the scores by 5 or 10 percent over the course of the semester, or to be on time every day in the course of a month. Children become so excited about achieving goals that by the third or fourth grade, they love to go to school. They get the best grades. They are seldom absent. They are excited about themselves and about their lives. So encourage your children to set worthwhile and realistic goals from an early age.

The fourth reason why people don’t set goals is fear of rejection. The fear of rejection is caused by destructive criticism in early childhood… Because each of us is strongly influenced by the opinions of those around us, one of the first things that you must learn when you begin setting goals is to keep your goals confidential. Don’t tell anyone about them.

The fifth reason why people don’t set goals — and perhaps the most important reason of all — is the fear of failure. People don’t set goals because they are afraid that they might fail. In fact, the fear of failure is probably the greatest single obstacle to success in adult life. It can hold you back more than any other psychological problem.

I started setting goals when I was seven years old. I wanted to learn to swim, but I did not know how. I was on an ocean liner, on my way to Scotland (my second time of being abducted from my father).

Every afternoon the swimming pool was raised to a depth of 700mm to allow the children to use the pool, but it is difficult to learn to swim where you can stand up. You have to take the plunge!

I was inspired by my dad who had told me that he learnt to swim when someone pushed him in the deep end of the pool. That’s where the saying comes from, ‘sink or swim’. Dad learned to dog-paddle pretty quickly.

So, I figured that I had to learn from my dad’s experience by ‘pushing myself in’, so to speak.

So, in the mornings, while mum was busy looking after my younger brother, I snuck up to the top deck adults’ pool and lowered myself in, let go of the side and swam a couple of paddles. I just kept at it in short bursts until I could dog-paddle the length of the relatively short pool.

I have been ‘letting go’ all my life, sometimes with written-down goals and sometimes with unwritten goals.

The results are usually the same. Eventually, I achieve my goals. You can too! You just have to be brave enough to write your goals down.

Companies, including charities, set goals, but they call them by three different names:

Vision, Mission and Values.

All are really variations associated with achieving certain goals. I believe that a vision comes first. That is where you want to go. The mission is how you are going to do it. Values are the rules you hold dear, as you work towards achieving your mission. Brian Tracy believes values are critical. So do I.

When I was seven, I had a vision: I wanted to learn how to swim, but without a teacher, I had to develop a mission to achieve my vision. I followed Brian Tracey’s advice and didn’t tell people my vision or mission, because if I did, it would never have happened.

Recently the Dads4Kids Board, led by our new chairman Ryan Milne, revisited its Vision, Mission and Values. Each member of the board contributed to the process.

We started by resetting our values, which are summed up in six simple words: Courage, Compassion, Integrity, Humility and Faith. Five words are a big improvement on 22 words, and the good news is that the six words say more than the 22 words did.

Vision was a big challenge. Previously, the Dads4Kids Mission / Vision was back to front. The vision was the mission and the mission was the vision, and yet the vision was not the big hairy audacious goal it needed to be. Now it is!

The Vision of Dads4Kids is to transform the nation by inspiring fathers to help their children be the best they can be.

The Dads4Kids Mission then elucidates how we are going to achieve that goal/vision.

The Mission of Dads4Kids is to equip, encourage and inspire fathers, strengthen and support families and engage with community, church, business and government to see our children thrive.


The good news is that you and your family can create your own Vision, Mission, Values Statement. Start talking around the table about your goals and your family’s goals, as Brian Tracy says, and begin to change your family’s attitude to goals.

Stick your family’s goals on your fridge and watch your family thrive throughout the process.

Yours for thriving families,

Warwick Marsh

PS: Make sure you register for the upcoming Dads4Kids Family Success Webinar, 8PM AEST Thursday 20 June 2019.

I will be talking to Dads about the keys to creating a successful family and the part that goal-setting plays in that success.

Register NOW.

PPS: Places are now half-filled for the Men’s Leadership summit on 9-11 August 2019. Check out News & Info for more information or click this link to BOOK NOW!


Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

About the Author: Warwick Marsh

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker. Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”

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