I must tell you that I have mixed feelings about the value of goals. Goals are vital to success because they provide inspiration and a place on which to focus. The formula for peak performance is a combination of high focus and unstoppable action. How can you make sure you focus in the right direction if you don´t have goals that move and energize you? You can´t. Creating and manifesting great goals fuels achievement and makes life fulfilling.
Goals are also the enemy. You cannot predict what is going to happen in the next year, two years, or five years. Even so, some people create goals with very narrow pass/fail criteria. If they don´t achieve exactly what they thought they wanted, they have failed. Lots of people give up on goals because things don´t go as planned.
Here´s a key point and important lesson: THINGS DON´T GO AS PLANNED.
Reality is always different. But here´s the thing. If you perceive every deviation as undesirable or a problem, then guess what? Your results will be disappointing. If, on the other hand, you see deviations as part of the adventure, then you set yourself up to realize a future better than that for which you could have planned.
Another problem I have with goals is that many people set goals that aren´t inspiring or interesting. Why would you do that? Why shoot for something that fails to stir your insides or make the hair on the back of your neck tingle? Most goals are simply not good enough for you and don´t deserve your attention and passion. Before I coach people or they begin the 2 Weeks to a Breakthrough Program, I help them clarify, shape, and define their goal(s). The majority of the time they start with a goal that is either A) not really their goal and B) not crisp, clear, and inspiring. I believe that goals are important tools to produce breakthroughs AND they will also be a barrier to your success if not well defined.
To get the most benefit out of your work and life, select a goal that is inspiring and important to you. Be careful not to aim too high or too low. Goals are too high when you cannot achieve them with awesome performance. Goals are too low when they don´t require you to stretch or grow in order for them to be completed. Here are several characteristics of great goals:
- Goals should be meaningful and inspiring! This is not the time to wimp out or get conservative. Achieving a goal takes work, so it should be something that you can get excited about and which will make a big difference in your life.
- Your goal should apply to YOU. For example, a parent might adopt a goal for her son to improve his grades in school. This is not a desirable goal because it is not clear who should be taking action. A better way to express this goal would be this: I want to provide the coaching, support, and ideas that will help my son willingly achieve excellent grades and do his best in school.
- Your goal should be something you want to achieve even if the work will be hard, uncomfortable, or require life changes. More money or promotions are rarely compelling enough on their own. Most people want achievement and more money but this rarely creates a fire within us. What drives you to be at your best? Focus on the work you love doing and tie that into your desire for prosperity and accomplishment.
- Your goal should be challenging, but achievable. Going from GED to PhD in a year is unrealistic. Going from no business to comfortable retirement in one year is also unrealistic (unless Oprah features your product!). Your goal should define what a metaphorical home run would look like. A home run is great performance but it is still in the realm of possibility.
- The best goals will provide your life with greater meaning while allowing you to contribute to others more fully.
- You should be able to explain your goal in a sentence or two. What´s your elevator speech? Can you explain your goal to a perfect stranger in one minute or less?
- Your goal needs to be measurable. It does not have to be something that you can attached exact numbers to, life is not that precise. It is critical that you be able to define success. How will you know when your goal has been achieved or exceeded? What does success look like? Remember, you cannot determine the exact outcome, so it is best to define success in a way that allows for wonderful surprises and slight changes in direction.
What´s your goal? Describe it to a few friends or family members. Say it aloud to yourself five times. Is your goal clear and compelling? Are you tingling inside? Do your friends and family understand what you are trying to accomplish? If you are having a hard time explaining your goal, you likely do not have it adequately defined. Start by describing what success looks like. Be specific and determine how will you know when you have achieved your goal. Test your goal against the above criteria and tweak it if necessary.