by Catherine Pulsifer

Eighteen years ago, I hit a brick wall. I had a job I hated that was literally making me sick. My marriage was in trouble; my finances were a disaster; and, I lived many miles away from my family.

I felt I had hit bottom. The easy way out would have been to feel sorry for myself and blame the world for my misfortune, to moan and groan about how unfair life is.

Instead, I found my way to the public library and discovered a new world in the self-help section. It focused my energy on positive results, rather than on the “poor me” syndrome. I started reading books on setting goals, positive thinking, psychology, autobiographies, attitudes, and so on.

At that time, I started to collect quotes. I discovered that certain quotes made me stop and think; they made me challenge my beliefs, while others gave me hope.

Without realizing it, I was searching for answers. Why are some people more successful than others?

How do they cope with challenges? Other people had more serious problems than I did. How did they keep a positive attitude and overcome their problems?

Through all my years of reading and research, I found two consistent qualities of successful people:


A “positive attitude” is definitely one of the keys to success.

My definition of a positive attitude is a simple one:
Looking for the good in all circumstances.

Applying it to everyday life is not as simple as it seems. Some situations in life challenge us to see the good. For example, the death of someone close to us, a health problem, the loss of a job, a relationship that doesn’t work out. It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude in these situations.

If you accept what has happened and search for the positive, you will be able to move forward in your life. By embracing this attitude, you eliminate the “poor me syndrome”. Attitudes play a very important role in our lives.

How do you react when faced with:
– change
– challenges
– failures
– stress

In today’s society, change is constant. Although change has always occurred in every society, today it is much more rapid due to technological advancements and a global market.

If you resist change, you will face challenges on a daily basis. If you consciously refocus your attitude to see the benefits of change, your outlook becomes positive and life becomes easier.

We all face challenges. How we react to them is what really makes a big difference. Some people overreact and make mountains out of the proverbial molehill. Facing our challenges head on and setting goals to take us through and beyond the challenge, helps us cope with the hurtles we all confront.

There is nothing worse than being unable to see light at the end of the tunnel. I have learned to focus my energies on solutions, not on the challenge itself. So often, I have seen people waste energy by moaning and groaning about a problem. Yet, if they just realigned their attitude and focused on the solution or on the opportunity, the challenge would not seem as big as they think it is.

How do you see failure?

If you accept failure as an opportunity to learn, it will change your whole perspective. Some people allow failures to stop them form ever attempting anything new. Rather than learn and move on, these people get stuck forever.

Today, we hear over and over again that people are stressed. Stress, however, is created by our attitude. How we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high stress levels. However, if you try and see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish.

I attended a course on stress where the instructor explained that we create our own “stressors”. We actually create our own stress by our perception of events. Yes, there are external events that cause us concern, but how we perceive the event determines the stress we feel. That thought has stayed with me over the years. When I feel overwhelmed and my stress levels rise, I stop and step back from the situation and put the even in perspective. I always ask myself – what difference will this make in five years time? Most of the time, it will not make any significant difference in my life. Just answering that question helps reduce my stress level. For those events that will make a difference in five years, I reduce stress by focusing my energy on finding solutions.

I have a strong belief in setting goals. I set a goal 13 years ago for my professional career and surpassed it 5 years ago. I set a goal of writing a book with the quotes and stories I have been saving – I achieved that goal in 1998 when “Wings of Wisdom” was published. And after many, many redesigns of Wings of Wisdom 4 U! website (, the goal of my own website has been accomplished. My goals kept me focused. As a result, you are now reading what was once only a thought, a dream!

Goals do work!

The easiest way to set goals is to answer the following questions:
– What is it I want to achieve?
– When do I want to achieve it?
– Where am I today land what action do I need to take to achieve my goal?

Write down your answers. Writing out your goals is important as determining what they are. You are committing yourself to achieve these goals, and, at the same time, sending a strong, positive message to your subconscious mind.

What is it I want to achieve?
There are various ways to determine this. One way to answer this question is to write down the things you consistently wish for. Be specific. For example, the type of job you want; how much money you want to earn; the type of relationships you want to have; where you want to live; the kind of house you want to live in; what type of car you want to drive, and so on.

Another method is to write goals by category:
Career, financial, family, leisure, educational, vacation, spiritual, and so on.

When do I want to achieve it?
There are two types of goals:
– short term goals (1-2 years)
– long term goals (5-10 years)

Your short term goals should support your long term goals. Let me point out, however, that over time, your long term goals may change. If so, adjust your short term goals to support your long term. Goals should be flexible, not carved in stone!

Having said that, the time period you give yourself to finish your goal is still important. Time frames help you stay focused by giving you milestones by which to measure your progress. By committing to a time frame, you are making a commitment to yourself. We can easily be side-tracked after we set goals. A written commitment will help keep you on track.

Where am I today and what action do I need to take to achieve my goal?
The most important step in goal setting is TAKING ACTION. You can decide on your goal and you can write it down, but unless you take action, the goal is useless.

In order to achieve a goal, you need to identify the actions you must take. For example, in what areas will additional knowledge be required? What areas will you have to develop or learn new skills?

As you work on your goals, you should also review your progress. I usually review my goals every six months. I determine if I am on track, if I need to make adjustments, and if my goals and time frames are realistic. By doing this, you are actually charting your own progress. It always gives me a sense of self-achievement, and allows me to renew my commitment to my future goals. If I am not on target, I make the necessary adjustments. The most important thing is that I am moving forward even if I am not always progressing at the speed I originally planned.

Goals allow you to see light at the end of the tunnel, whether the light be a new career, a promotion, a prosperous business, or advanced training. You may not be where you want to be today, but by setting goals you are changing your life and moving toward where you want to be.

When people find themselves in situations with little or no hope, they give up. They convince themselves they are satisfied with where they are, or what they have.

Goals give us hope!

For me, goals are my road map to the life I want. They have helped me accomplish things I once thought were impossible.

What is interesting about goals is that once you are committed and start to implement your plan, you will make important discoveries just by keeping a focus on attaining your desired result.

My hopes in sharing my story with you is that it will make you stand back and look at your attitude and your goals. My background is a simple one, I grew up in the country, we were never without, but there was no money for extras. My education – a graduate from high school, it was years later when I upgraded my education by taking classes at night and by correspondence. My own accomplishments proved to me that “attitude and goals” do make a difference in our lives! It can make a difference in your life also!