A few tips from Dan Pena on setting and achieving goals

As is for most people around this part of the year, Dan Pena takes a closer look at setting and achieving goals. As a custom Dan looks at setting goals in this newsletter that are related to him, his family and his business. While at the end what gets measured gets done, Dan brings his experience of over 30 years to give a few tips on setting and achieving goals.

He says while setting goals, they should be written, reviewed, changed and affirmed. Moving away from conventional thinking, Dan believes there are no time limits in setting and achieving goals. Getting a little unrealistic while setting goals helps. At least there is a tendency to move away from the comfort zone and stretch out to achieve it.

Using these tenets for setting goals, Dan gives indications through illustrations from his life on how to set personal goals and family goals. Through his personal experiences in the military, stint in Vietnam and life as a mentor he talks about risk taking and moving away from the comfort zone. In the process of setting and achieving goals it worked perfectly for Dan Pena.

While trying to help subscribers in setting and achieving goals, Dan talks of people who while setting goals tend to use average benchmarks. This is due to lack of self-esteem and not wanting to get out of the comfort zone.

Dan claims that this newsletter is meant to be a wake up call to take action for the New Year. This is a great time to dream it, think it and do it, as Bill Gates says. Take action to evoke positive change in life, go ahead and read on to find out about setting and achieving goals.


19-Dec-02 From Dan Peña – Executive Coach and Mentor to the High Performer.

Dear Friend and Subscriber,

As is my custom for many years I will sit down between Christmas and New Year to go over my schedule of goals.These include my personal, family and business goals. I too remember what gets measured gets done!

Here are a few guidelines for goal setting. As usual conventional wisdom is wrong on many points!

Goals should be written and reviewed often. Early in my career I read my goals twice daily, along with all my various positive affirmations. Now I read them monthly and check off the ones accomplished. I also change or adjust goals monthly. This is not a new technique and athletes of all descriptions have been following this procedure forever!

Conventional Wisdom says "set time limits". I put no time limits on goal setting. I have found time limits act as deterrents rather than benchmarks. Similarly in school you were given so much time to get something done – by God it took you that much time! I also found time limits allow you to agree with conventional wisdom much too easily. I was told countless times, don’t be in such a hurry, you are way a head of schedule now! I didn’t listen much to that – thank God!

Another conventional precept is the notion of setting realistic goals. Of course this is advised so you don’t feel badly and discouraged when you don’t accomplish your goals. Guess what! If you are not risking anything you don’t have sufficient incentive to do "what ever it takes" to get the job completed. If the goal and the actions to achieve them aren’t taking you out of your comfort zone – they aren’t making you really stretch!

I have had two sets of personal goals dating back to 1976 1. Goals that I talk about and may have some other participants and 2. What Jim Newman used to call "under the skin goals". The later goals are very private and are shared with only your significant other and mentor. These "under the skin goals" are of a very personal nature that are only shared with those that will provide encouragement and support. At times they may seem of an embarrassing nature, but are of extreme importance to your over all well being and success. And yes my friends if your partner is not part of your goal scheme, it has little chance of succeeding. My experience is most relationships, both personal and business, bust up because goals are different.

My family goals have varied over the years based on where my children were in their own life cycles vis-à-vis their mother’s and mine. Many of these goals should be jointly set. And children’s goals (for themselves) will vary a great deal, but if you get them in the habit of setting goals they will by default get in the habit of achieving goals. As your family grows so do your goals. I learned my ideas of what my children should do varied greatly, from what they thought they should do. With any kind of goal setting positive reinforcement is a must! As Plato said, "as long as progress is being made, no matter how slowly, never discourage". I would differ with the great master on the slowness.

Peña Personal Goal!
As many of you know my fathers only goal for me was to keep me alive until I reached the age of reason. For me this came later than most. My military experience changed my life. Though I knew what discipline and integrity meant intellectually from childhood I didn’t really understand the emotional commitment necessary to succeed. When I was deemed "an officer and a gentleman" by an act of the United States Congress it meant a massive turning point in my life. It still means a great deal to me even now! This was an "under the skin goal" (though I didn’t call it that back then) that I shared with no one. In those days I had no mentor, or significant other. At that time I knew my life would have little or no meaning the way I was headed. I had no focus! So I took a big risk! I stretched way outside my existing comfort zone. I volunteered for an additional stint in the US Army by going for officer training. Actually it was the second step of my "under the skin goal" of making something of myself. I had already volunteered to go into the army at the height of the Vietnam war. My father had told me the military has straightened out countless young men before me. And, he added, "if you can make it, son, be an officer". I didn’t share with anyone I had volunteered till I was out of the army. The bottom line is it worked!! The rest is history as they say.

These are no different than the family and personal goals. You follow the same pattern. The only difference is you will undoubtedly find more wrong advice than you can ever imagine. Most people will have something to say about things they know a little about, like having kids and raising them, etc. The same is true of your personal goals. After all everyone has lived a little, and learned something about life. But when it comes to business, every dog on the street has some crap to say. From the guy in the post office, to the high school football coach, they all have some comment. And the problem is we listen to them, because we don’t know much about business ourselves. Therefore if you get nothing more from this letter, unless the person giving business advice has been there and done what you aspire to do, don’t listen! Remember even the average accountant and lawyer only makes less than 100,000Kpa. So if you want more than that, don’t ask! The same goes for parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, kids and colleagues. Unless your name is Buffet, Branson, Perot, Rockerfellow or Gates forget about listening to them! Of course you can read this letter or other QLA material!

What I have written is meant to be a few succinct points on goal setting. I have written and talked much about this topic over the years. My overall experience is that people who set goals use only average benchmarks. Yes, almost all people set goals too low! They do this due to their lack of self esteem and not wanting to get out of their comfort zone. It is also due to listening to people that have set unfulfilling goals themselves! And Group goal setting is an art not a science.

More than anything this letter is meant as a wake up call for you to take action for the New Year. This is a great time to "dream it" – "think it" and "do it", as Bill Gates would say! Take action to evoke positive change in your life! So in the words of my mentor, Jim Newman – "Release Your Breaks!" He believed, and I concur, most people go through life, due to lack of self esteem, filled with self doubt, with their emergency brake on. Hence, not fulfilling anywhere near their full human potential.

Let me wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons and the most meaningful and prosperous New Year possible.

To Your Quantum Leap

Daniel S. Peña, Sr

P.S. Whilst looking at the bulletin board on the QLA web site, I have noticed there are frequently questions asked that are already answered in one of the 40 previous newsletters. Though some of you have read them many times, since they aren’t titled on the site, only the most diligent would be able to ascertain the various subject matter. Soon they will be listed by subject matter.

P.P.S. As I said in January 2001 and repeated in 2002, I don’t expect the stock market to make up your portfolio losses. I say the same for 2003. I also see both commercial and residential real estate (property) markets weighing heavy. Of course, this information is free, so you can take it for what you paid for it. It’s your choice! In the corporate buy out markets we have seen another year of contraction and transformation, The recent Burger King sale for about 1.5 billion was 1/3 less than the expected 2.2 billion is a sign of the vendors price coming in line with reality. Therefore I see light at the end of the tunnel. As you can see by The Guthrie Group website ( we had a record year!