I have been striving for, reading and writing about goals for many years. I have long harboured the suspicion that few experts and even fewer ordinary people like me get it right.
Why should that be?
Various thoughts had been in my mind for many of those years without any clear conclusions until I read the Monday Morning Memo by Roy Williams on 9 March.
That helped crystallise my thoughts.
The more I look at my experience and the more I read and see the success and failures of others, the more I believe that setting goals should be the second step in the achievement process not the first.
Roy Williams wrote:
I’ve never been a big fan of what most people call “goal setting.” This isn’t because I have no goals. It’s just that I believe what most people call goals are little more than aspirations, hopes and dreams: wishful thinking.
That has been my experience too.
It’s easy to aspire to a lofty goal today, write it on a list of goals and put it on our wall where we can see it every day, but without the commitment to do something every day, take a small action step, it will remain forever, just an aspiration.
The first step is commitment. The 100% unbreakable promise to ourselves that we will take the daily action needed to meet the goal. Some days we will not do enough, some days we will do more. We might miss the odd day, life happens, as long as we get back on track quickly that will be a delay, not a disaster.
We have to turn that daily action into a habit. A habit so strong that we feel uncomfortable if we don’t do it. A habit strong enough to make us get out of bed in the middle of the night and write something, create something, design something or do anything so that we can to end the day with the satisfaction that we did take action that day.
Next, we have to have a system to measure our progress. Which means if our goal is not measurable, it’s just an aspiration, a hope or a wish.
- Becoming a successful author – a wish.
- Publishing a book and selling 10 000 copies in the next 12 months – a goal.
This is where many of us fall down.
If our definition of our goal and our criteria for measuring success are wishy-washy, our commitment, action and performance will be too.
It is more simple, but not necessarily easier, to make the commitment, nurture the habits and achieve some types of goals than others. Goals for physical performance, athletics, sports, endurance can be defined and measured with simple statements and tools.
- I will run 10 km in less than 50 minutes by x date.
In 2012, I published a short e-book about achieving success in running marathons and applying those steps to business or other life goals. It’s available from Amazon here.
Commitment, determination, goals and taking action assume that the goal is in line with our own values and we have a mission, a purpose or we are on a crusade to change the world. Without a driving force inside us, we will not have that commitment.
Our goals will remain wishful thinking.
goals graphic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net