Goal Setting Dummystyle

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Yes I know that this topic is a little ‘old-school’ in terms of contemporary Personal Development stuff and possibly it’s been talked and written about too much… but apparently, we haven’t been listening or doing.

Surprisingly (to me anyway) there are still many people who:

(1) don’t really know how to set goals (effectively) or

(2) simply don’t do it (for a range of reasons).

Despite the fact that we want ‘more’ (whatever that means for us personally)… and despite the fact that we want to be somewhere different (financially, professionally, physically, emotionally, academically… possibly geographically!), many of us are clue-less when it comes to strategically, methodically and consciously creating life-long change.

And then we have those sad folk who are waiting to be ‘discovered’ (good luck with that) or waiting for success to happen to them (and with that).

It seems that the majority of us don’t goal set as effectively as we could.

We think we do… but we don’t really.

We have hopes and dreams.

But no strategies.

No plans.

No time frames. We know what goal setting is (that is, we have an intellectual understanding of it) but we don’t have a practical application of it in our lives (we don’t consistently do it!).

Sure we talk ourselves up and tell people how we’re all about personal growth, exploring our potential and pushing the boundaries… but when it comes to creating our best life (whatever that is for us personally) we’re still very hit and miss. No strategy, no clearly defined goals, very little logic (sometimes) and some occasional passion. And if you think passion is enough, you’re wrong. It’s great.. but not on it’s own.

We kind of have a plan and we kind of know where we want to go.. but we don’t really have clarity or certainty. And if we want to create amazing, we need both.

What’s to follow is a little revision, a little common sense and a little education; none of it is rocket science… If you do nothing else but apply these thoughts, ideas, concepts and suggestions you may very well create positive change almost instantly.

Here we go:

1. If you don’t have your goals written down, if you don’t have a time-line and if you don’t have an action plan… then you don’t really have goals; you have a wish-list.

2. Goal setting needs to be a methodical, practical, structured, logical process… not some crazy-ass, emotional reaction… “right, that’s it!!.. I’m losing 20 pounds by next Wednesday” (because he/she said I’m fat!). Take (significant) time and space to do it. Step away from the busy-ness of your life. Get alone. Be still and quiet. And REALLY think about your life… and what you want for that life. What you want, why you want it and how you’re gonna get it.

I personally do my major goal setting over Christmas and New Year every year and it takes me about a week to effectively set goals and plan for the next year. Success is something we purposely create, it doesn’t happen to us… it’s strategic, not accidental.

3. Emotion and passion are great… but only when they are harnessed to some logic and reason and wrapped around an intelligent, realistic plan. Emotion and passion on their own can be disastrous. By the way, this doesn’t mean you need to be conservative… it’s very possible to be sensible and passionate and excited… and a little bit weird (see craigharper.com) and mind-blowingly successful.

4. If you can’t define it, you probably won’t get it. Too many people don’t even know what success is (for them). “Wanna be successful?” “Yep.” “What is success for you?” “Hmm.. er.. ah.. c’nive an easier question?” Dude, figure out exactly what you want (and don’t want).

5. Start with the end in mind. This helps us get clarity and perspective about what we should do and where we should focus our energy now. “So ultimately you want to be a reporter for NBC and right now you’re a goat herder?.. Hmm, okay… I’d suggest a short course (maybe four years) in journalism to get you started.. and get that shit off your shoes..” “And take a shower…”

6. Don’t let someone else tell you what your goals should be. I see this all the time and I hate it… like the parents who tell their kids what they should be when they ‘grow up’. “Your great-grandfather was a lawyer, your grandfather was a judge, I own the biggest law firm in town… of course you’re going to law school..” “But dad, I don’t want to study law..” “Don’t be ridiculous.. you’re seventeen, you don’t know what you want…” “Actually I do… I want to be a choreographer…” “A what!!..” “You know dad, someone who choreographs dance.. ” ” Wadda you.. some kinda weird-ass sissy, boy?” “No sir..” “Law it is…”

7. Prioritise your goals and create an appropriate action plan. Some people have so many things that they want to do/achieve.. that they end up doing twenty things badly… rather than a few things well. Decide where you need to focus the majority of your time and energy now…

8. Identify the goals behind your goals. We call these the outcomes…. what the (achievement of that) goal will bring you.: I want to lose fifty pounds (the immediate goal). But what do you really want? Happiness, improved self-esteem, to be attractive to someone, confidence, new clothes, to feel good, health (outcomes). What we’re really after is the outcomes; what we believe the achievement of those goals will deliver us. We need to be careful though because often we achieve the goals… but not the outcomes. Like the person who thought that once they were ‘rich’ they would have no problems; they would be happy… content… and fulfilled. They actually ended up more miserable… ’cause they found a whole bunch of new things to worry about.

9. I know I’m gonna sound like an old fart when I say this but.. We don’t deserve things… we earn them. People who feel that the world (or someone in it) owes them.. invariably under-achieve because they waste too much emotional energy, time and talent on crap. Get over yerself, toughen up, take off the woe-is-me hat and WORK YOUR ASS OFF. Or go feel sorry for yourself somewhere else; you’re annoying me. And everyone else.

10. Ask yourself this question: Am I prepared to do what it takes? If your answer is not absolutely yes (zero doubt)… then change your attitude, get another goal or get back on the couch. Everything has a price.. we need to identify that price and decide if we can and will, afford it. Too many people want the dream but don’t want to pay the price.

Okay Groovers and Goal-Setters… get excited, get busy and get creating your best life. Feel free to share a goal (or two) with the rest of us; sometimes public commitment is good. I’ll cheer you on, even if no-one else will.