I have read blogs and articles over recent weeks from people saying they have given up on setting goals because they never keep them anyway. I was reminded then of a comment someone made: “In the absence of clear goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.”
I do set goals. I don’t always keep them but if I abandon them I do so for a conscious reason, often because I have realised they are no longer relevant to what I want or where I want to go.
While goal-setting is important to me, I do know that space where I lose focus and direction, where I become distracted by “stuff” that really is not important and so become victim to performing “daily acts of trivia”. What’s now different for me is that I regularly review my goals and that gets me back on track quickly.
Most of the people I am reading about, and those I talk with as a coach or mentor, abandon their goals because “life” gets in the way – albeit often “life” that is urgent but unimportant. Or alternatively they abandon them because it all becomes too hard – the self-discipline, the persistence, the required resilience and the commitment.
Some Thoughts To Inspire Your Goal Setting.
1. Get Your Why Clear. Know What You Want To Say Yes To.
What’s often behind this abandonment of goals, is that the person was never clear about the WHY of their goal, why they really set this goal and why they wanted to achieve it. As the saying goes: “If you have a big enough Why, the How is easy.” The late Stephen Covey has also said: If you have a big enough YES inside you, it is easy to say No. So if we are clear about what we are saying Yes to, what we really want to achieve, we will find it easy to say No to those people, experiences and situations that distract us from that.
2. Goals Are Not About “To Get”. They Are About “To Grow”.
Bob Proctor reminds us of something profound about goal setting. He says that we are here on this earth to grow and reach our full potential. We are not here to get what we can from this earth. The getting is the side benefit. He says that goals are not about “to get” – to get a better job, to get more money, to get more weight off, to get fitter. They are about “to grow” – to be the best version of ourselves, to lose weight so that we can become a high energy person, so we will be attractive to leaders looking for high performing, empowered people, so we can feel that we can make a difference . The getting is the side benefit.
When we focus on “to get” we are usually looking for instant gratification and quick fixes, and this is why we give up so easily when we don’t achieve it quickly. We don’t realise that while what we need to do to reach that goal is quite simple if we follow the steps, but we, who have to follow the steps, are not simple. We are quite complex and when we don’t address that complexity, we don’t grow and we never achieve what we really want.
Addressing the complexities in our lives that make us abandon and give up on what is in our own best interests is the “to grow” part. It is a much slower process, but it is a more sustainable one. It requires commitment, not mere decision making. It is transformational and we can feel it happening. In other words, we can feel our goal working. We can feel our life changing for the better.
3. Make A Commitment, Not Merely A Decision.
Too much goal setting is about making a decision to do something. It is usually followed by: “I’ll give it a try” or “I’ll see if I can do it”. “Try” is a cop out because it means if it gets a bit difficult I’ll give up. I’m not going to push myself out of my comfort zone to achieve this goal. Commitment is about sticking with your decision through hell and high water, working through every obstacle, jumping every hurdle, until you make it happen. As Jerry Bruckner says: Commitment is your unshakeable promise TO YOURSELF to achieve your goals. That is important. Goal setting is a promise to yourself and when you break that promise you devalue yourself.
4. Reflect In Advance On What Will Get In The Way Of You Achieving Your Goals.
Noah St. John has a strategy that I find very helpful when setting any goal for myself – even short term weekly goals. You set your goal – I want to be 15 kilos lighter by this time next year. You then bounce forward to December 31st 2016 and you make a positive, what he calls, “afformation”. Instead of an affirmation – “I will lose 15 kilos this year” while we have a voice in the back of your head telling you that you probably can’t do it, you make an afformation which puts you in the position of already having achieved it. You then look at what you could have possibly done to have achieved that outcome. What you are really doing is reflecting on all the things that have made you abandon that goal in the past and working out what you need to put in place to make sure you don’t repeat it.
An example: It is December 31st, 2016 and I am 15 kilos lighter and I feel fantastic. You then pretend that you are telling your friends how you did it. For example: I bought a bike, the best health insurance policy I’ve ever bought and I rode it every morning before work. I wasn’t sure I’d keep it up when the weather got bad so I joined a riding team which met by the river every morning at 5.30 a.m. That was highly motivating because they were a great group of people that I really wanted to be with them at 5.30 in the morning. I had to go to bed at 9.30 p.m, much earlier than normal, to get up at that time so I stopped watching so much television and felt better for it. I fixed up my diet. I went to a men’s health night where they talked about how to get rid of our gut and I bought some weights which I lift for about 15 minutes in front of the television at night. They’ve toned me up. I also have time now for a good breakfast and I take my lunch to work so I no longer buy junk on the way to work or at lunchtime. It has really been quite easy and I have a way to keep the weight off with the bike riding and I have a new group of friends and my wife and kids say I’m better to be around.
So now you go back to right now where you have set your goal for the next year. You are aware of all the things that would get in the way of you achieving your goal of losing 15 kilos, all the things that would make you abandon your goal. You know what you could do to make sure that you do actually lose that 15 kilos. You focus on those, build them into your goal setting plan and keep a close watch on how you are going.
5. Never Lose Sight Of Your Goals.
Write your goals down. Share them with someone else to keep you accountable. Break them down into smaller pieces so you feel you are having success. What do I want to achieve this week, this month, this quarter? Keep them close and review them regularly. Make sure they are taking you in the direction you want to go and if not, adjust them.