Most people accept that having goals is better than not having goals. But then very few people actually have goals. Why the contradiction?
This is what people say:
I’ve got goals already!
I want to be slim, rich, travel to Australia, run the London marathon. These are not goals. They are dreams. Dreams are fine. A lot of goals start as dreams. But goals are different. They are written, precise, measurable, have an associated plan and a timescale for completion.
I don’t know how to set goals.
This is sadly believable because we are not taught how to do it at school. There’s a process for generating and delivering goals. The process is not fool-proof. But life isn’t a game of perfection. It’s about stacking the odds in your favour.
I think I’ll fail.
Well, don’t set a goal that you think you will fail to achieve. In order to be motivated we need to believe we have a pretty good chance of success. So set a goal you can achieve. But here’s the good bit – in time, this repetition of success will embolden you and you will set more challenging goals until you are routinely achieving goals that would have seemed impossible a few years ago. And in any event, it is not setting high goals and failing to achieve them that is the worlds’ problem, it is setting low goals and achieving them.
My friends will laugh at me when I tell them my goal.
So don’t tell them. And, in time, get new friends.
I don’t need goals; I know what I’m doing.
You do, to an extent. But you can stagger around in the fog, sort of heading in the right direction and you will, in the round, make progress. But having goals is like driving on a sunny day with clear views and a map. You will also make progress, but an awful lot more of it.
I have goals…in my head.
Life is too unpredictable.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We’re going to take off and then make a right turn until the nose of the 747 is pointing directly at London. Then, we’re going to relax for the next 7 hours. The cross winds, turbulence and general lack of order in our atmosphere means we may land anywhere from Reykjavik to Algiers. But hey, life’s unpredictable. Thank you for flying with Unpredictable Airways.”
Don’t get me wrong. Sometime we have to simply react to external events. But let’s not sacrifice all self-determination because occasionally life throws us a wobbler.
Goal setting starts are a chore, becomes a discipline, then a trusty tool. By that point you realise goal setting is the greatest skill you can learn. And the thing about skills is – you can learn them!
Success comes from goal-directed action.
Start small – have one goal. Set it now. What would you like to achieve by the end of this week that you would not have done if you had not read this blog post.
Do it now – take 2 minutes. You’re worth it.
I was inspired to write on this topic by Brian Tracey www.briantracey.com. Despite sharing a surname, he isn’t one of the Thunderbirds, but if that was his goal, he’d be one.