What are you aiming for?
Personal goal setting has become almost passé relegated to the province of “motivational” speakers and banal self-help books. Its just not exciting to talk about the virtue of pressing and testing yourself today with much of our focus on external factors like engagement, economy and environment.
And yet, there is nothing as powerful as what's inside of you, what you bring to life and work due to your internal strength.
Here then a quick primer on the four parts of goal power.
- What is a goal if not desire? Ever wanted to lose some weight, paint that kitchen or take a trip? We all want things but some of us make wishes come true while others simply aspire. What's the difference? The clarity of our desire.
- Clarifying what we want – exactly how we'll feel when we realize our desire – helps put things in context. Little goals may take less time but even they won't happen without crystallization. Turn longing into living by imagining just how you'll feel when you attain your desire.
- How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a tine. Fitness is a great illustration: people often say at New Year, I want to be more fit but within weeks they've lost that intention. You see, an elephant is awful big. But what if we took one step at a time knowing the journey is more important than the finish line?
- With clarity on desire all those little steps (fitness would include hydration, diet, etc) start to come into focus. Does one week or one month of small change make you fit? No – but it makes you fitter. Goals are directional: over time we get better or worse in general. We don't check the scale every day, we do the work every day, and check periodically.
- Once a goal has been realized the diffence between high peformers and the rest of us is diligence: the tenacity to keep doing something again and again even though we're “good at it.” The best networkers do so every day. Knowledgable CPAs never stop reviewing current literature. Accomplished musicians continue to practice.
- Diligence recognizes competence is dynamic: if its not growing its fading. Turning goals into achievements isn't about a once and done, its about a once and again. Diligence really is that little voice that won't go away until you lace up your running shoes, open that text book or return those phone calls. Goals are targets – diligence is amunition.
- Setting goals is exciting, and reaching them is rewarding, but sometimes the road is long. Professional certification? Language acquisition? Goals like these take time and if not careful you can lose enthusiasm. How to avoid this? Delight in the progress along the way.
- Recognize that with forward momentum those big goals become attainable. Progress isn't linear and there will be ups and downs. Ever lose weight? Its two pounds one week and none the next: don't be discouraged. Celebrate the small steps and take delight in the innate power to re-frame your life.
Each of us has more capacity than we realize. Sometimes a personal challenge – financial hardship, divorce, illness – forces us to find our ultimate strength.
Rather than wait for a trial to test yourself though use goal power to focus interests and propel action. You can do so much more starting today.
And you won't even have to listen to a motivational speaker.