During your whole life, you’ll be asked about your goals, explicitly or implicitly. What do you want to be when you grow up? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? What’s you’re ultimate ambition? What are your #lifegoals? If you look back at your life in your last days of your life, what do you want to be the achievements to look back on?
Inspirational quotes are often about having big goals; smashing those big goals; making dreams happen by turning them into goals. I’ve read a lot of books that state what sets successful people apart is their clear goals.
Goals can help give you direction. If you don’t have a direction you might end up going in circles.
So, here’s how things work in my brain: To be successful I should set myself some gigantic, life changing, impressive goals. Becoming CEO of Google, solve poverty, elimimate crime, save the rhino, the coral reefs, become a millionaire by age 40, establish world peace. Just to name some…
But what would be useful about setting huge goals that look like you’re set up to fail from the start? And what are the odds you’ll actually succeed?
I don’t like to be disappointed if things don’t go to plan and I don’t like failing. Hence, I get a bit nervous about setting goals. You might relate to the feeling (Or not. In that case I envy you a bit).
So, here’s a light bulb moment that helps me put things in perspective (or just a gentle refresher): Set yourself goals that are realistic and you’re excited about reaching. Then consider what steps you need to take to get there and focus on the steps. In other words: make a plan. There is a big difference between a plan and goals. You need a plan to reach your goals. And if plan A doesn’t work, you can try plan B or C.
A goal can be “I want to lose weight, a stone (6 Kg) in the next 2 Months”. What’s your plan to lose weight? “In order for me to lose weight I need to exercise 3 times a week” or “In order for me to lose weight I need to follow diet X for 2 months”. Great, I believe I can achieve that.
See what I’m doing? The goal is made concrete or SMART, as people like to call it in business jargon: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (or relevant) and Time bound.
If instead I would’ve given myself the goal: “I need to lose 4 (24 Kg) stone in 3 Months. To accomplish that I will exercise 3 hours every day and will only eat 1200 calories per day” It’s specific, measurable and time based. But since it’s not very attainable or realistic, you’re very likely to set yourself up for failure from the start.
A goal can be anything: to walk 10k steps a day, to read at least 5 management books this year, to learn a new language, to choose to be mindful for the day, to be happy in life (yeah, sorry, the latter ones are a bit more difficult to quantify. But you can still consider a plan to be happy, or a plan on how to stay mindful).
If you’ve looked at attacking goals this way, it might be worth giving it a try.
I’m going to use this gentle nudge for myself while setting my personal development goals for the rest of our companies’ financial year.
How you deal with setting and achieving goals?
I’ll be writing 2 more blogs around goals. Next week I’ll be writing a about building goals around your passion and about how to find your passion. And the week after I’ll address goals and fear of failure.
If you want to learn more about SMART goal setting, have a look at the below video I swear I didn’t watch the below video when I came up with the weight loss example!