If you are a bit lost on what goal setting means or you feel that goals aren’t really important, consider where you are going in life. What is your destination?
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”, was the Cheshire Cat’s advice when Alice was asking for directions in Wonderland. Indeed, any road will get you to nowhere. But what we are looking for, and what Alice is looking for, is a genuine destination.
What is guaranteed is if you have a destination you can look for signposts and get yourself there efficiently, with minimum stress and even minimum effort.
Why is getting there rapidly important? Because there is a deadline! The greatest deadline being our lifespan. We can hope to get 90 years or so of living in, and in that time we’re looking for something. It might be a fantastic relationship (with self, family or a life partner), financial freedom, fulfilling career, to change the lives of others in a positive way.
In order to satisfy these desires, we need to do certain things in or lives. Most people have no idea what that is or how to set goals that will get them there. They want happiness or love or certainty but they just wait and hope they will find it on the way, or someone will come along and give it to them. Before they know it, five years have gone by and their situation is not improved, actually, it’s probably worse.
In order to accelerate the results you want with power, purpose and focus, you’ll need a map.
That is all goal setting is; plotting a map to your destination!
A map doesn’t mean a non-stop, structured chore that you are locked into. There are plenty of stops along the way that are going to be challenging, surprising, breathtaking, rewarding and inspiring. These are essential for your inner growth, satisfaction and fuel for the rest of your journey.
The wrong way to set a goal would be to say something like, ‘I want to be happy’, and daydream about a better life. While that kind of optimism might feel good and be comfortable, dreaming of a lotto win, a promotion or hoping your child will magically do what you ask without answering back will probably have no impact on your actual daily living.
There was a fun study done with some student basketball players in high school. One group trained for one hour every afternoon for a month, doing drills and shooting hoops. The second group visualised playing basketball and winning for one hour every afternoon for that month. They pictured the perfect pass, the perfect shot, everything that goes into playing basketball well.
At the end, they had a match. Clearly, the group who practised every day won, by about 50 points. Now, you may think that was an obvious outcome, however, consider your current goal setting strategies. Are you doing the work and getting there, or are you just imagining how great it will be when you do?
Genuine goals are not daydreams. The right way to create a difference in your life is to really understand what being happy means for you. Really get a clear picture of what your ultimate future self will look like and then create measured steps to get there.
When it comes to setting a goal you need to be sure that it’s tangible. Something that is close enough to almost get your hands on. It also needs to be measurable. The more facts, numbers and figures you include in your goal destination, the easier it will be for your unconscious mind to get you there.
So when it comes to setting goals for health, know your goal weight and say ‘I will be that weight in x months’ time’ (which means you will know your measured intervals from now to then as well), if it’s about fitness, know how much you want to run or lift in 12 months, 8 months, 6 months, three months, a fortnight. If it’s finances, know that dollar amount that will be in your bank account, picture that and know it is true and then do the work, in incremental steps, that will get you to that destination. It might be saving a certain amount every week for a set number of weeks no matter what, or it might be opening new income options, or both.
Measured steps in your goal setting strategies will require some work, possibly even some training and discipline. But setting these goals is worth it and achievable.
The wrong way to set a goal is to decide what you want and expect it tomorrow, for example, arriving at work and asking for a pay increase, because the day before you set a goal to earn more money.
Yes, you feel determined, yes you feel that your deserve more for what you do, however, being forceful is not necessarily going to get you there.
I had a friend recently do this. He’s got a new burning desire to get his life in order and he decided he needed a pay rise. Yes he got very clear in what he wanted and took action, however, he had been repeatedly reprimanded for being late to work two or three times a week. He didn’t get the raise. If he really wants the extra pay he’s going to need to put in the extra effort and get to work five minutes early, consistently!
My question to him, in this case, is, well, do you really want this job?
The wrong way to set a goal is to do more of what you are already doing. It’s time to take some risks.
A genuine goal will cause a nervous feeling in your stomach, it’s a fraction outside of your comfort zone. Again, you do this gradually, you might not be ready to quit your job and go into business for yourself tomorrow, but you take the steps that will get you there.
We had a look at the future goals of one of my platinum clients in Entrepreneur Now. She just wasn’t inspired even though it technically had everything she wanted. When I asked her what she really wanted to do, it turns out what she really loved was her babysitting jobs on the weekends and evenings. This had nothing to do with the goal outline on the whiteboard.
‘Well what if in 12 months’ time you have left this job and you were doing what you love for yourself?’
She was terrified. ‘I can’t do that, babysitting won’t get me enough hours, I wouldn’t bring in enough money.’
So we broke it down and showed her what goal steps she would need to take to get there. We started by going down to four days work a week, picking up one regular Friday- to Sunday babysitting client and moving on from there.
What she was able to see as we created achievable milestones and set this new goal, it was very manageable. None of it was especially scary or demanding. The end result is a risk, yes, but getting there is structured and simple.
What I love most about this story is the look on her face when she realised she could have what she wanted so easily. Suddenly she was full of motivation and inspiration, her face completely changed and she became alive with excitement!
Was it scary for her, yes, but now she wanted it. The old goal, the boring one, she just wasn’t engaged with at all.
What her original goal plan was missing was risk. The best part is, when she realised that she didn’t want to stay in her safe office job she immediately saw an advertisement for a part-time life coach slash daycare position in a gym.
This was exactly what she wanted to do and it enabled her to continue the nanny work she really loved. When I suggested she leave her job in 12 months time she was terrified, but what actually happened was she left her job that same month.
Be sure the goal you are setting will get you to the place you ultimately want to go.
If you are not happy in your life now or not getting the results you want, ask yourself, ‘what will make me happy,’ and take the steps you need to get to that destination. Not overnight, not doing more of what you already do.
I always advise people to set a life goal no more than seven years away. The reason being, your life is changing, technology, people, finances and your needs and desires can change too. A seven-year vision is a great time frame for getting to a destination.
Anything after this time will probably become redundant. Just like with my Entrepreneur Now student, once you know what your destination is, you will find you get there faster than you could have possibly imagined!
All that can be wrapped up very simply in the I’M SMART format. When setting goals check in that they meet all the following criteria:
Inspiring. Motivating. Measurable. Specific. Achievable. Risky. Tangible.
Have fun with it, and please share your goals in the comments, I’d love to see them!
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