Goal setting is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. The thing is, it’s always this time of the year when society starts sending you messages that you should be doing exactly that.
A few weeks ago, someone that I admire and respect immensely wrote a fantastic article on goal setting. which has a slightly different slant on the usual way of going about it. Gihan Perera is a colleague and friend and I always get something out of his insights. I think you might too.
Over to you Gihan.
Most goal setting programs are hard. The system might sound easy, but achieving the goals is difficult. It usually takes discipline, willpower, a strong mindset, hard work, sacrifice and struggle.
I’ve got a different approach to goal setting: This coming year, choose, plan and achieve goals that bring you joy, ease and happiness – not only when you achieve them, but along the way as well. This of course, flies in the face of most goal setting programs. So be warned that what I’m going to share with you might be controversial, confronting or conflicting with other advice you’ve seen. But hey – if you do embrace my advice, you will enjoy the next twelve months. So what have you got to lose?
So do yourself a favour this year: Don’t create goals an activities that involve struggle, complication, hardship and sacrifice. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you’ve done other goal setting programs. But hang in there, I will explain.
There are ten guidelines here, broken down into three areas: Choosing the right goals (four guidelines), planning (3) and taking action (3).
1. Do what you love
It’s surprising how many people set a goal because they think they “should” do it, or they “need” to do it, or somebody else wants it for them. Those goals are the first to go when life gets in the way.
So only choose goals that you want to achieve. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say you should only choose goals that you will love to achieve. This isn’t about being selfish; it’s about choosing wisely.
2. Love who you’ll be
Think carefully: Are you going to be happy – truly happy – with the person you’re going to become if you do achieve your goals?
If you get that big promotion, will you be OK spending more time away from your spouse and kids? If you go on that carrot juice diet and lose 20 kilos, can you tolerate having to gaze longingly and wistfully at chocolate cake from now until the end of your life? If you get all those business travel opportunities, can you cope with spending wasted hours in airports, taxi queues and hotel rooms?
Be sure you’re willing to accept all the consequences of achieving your goal.
3. Think big
Most people don’t fail because their goals are too big; they fail because their goals are too small. Those goals are easily forgotten or tossed aside when something bigger comes along. So make sure you set big – but achievable – goals.
As Jonathon Kozol says:
“Pick battles big enough to matter; small enough to win.”
4. Know the reason why
It’s not the “what” and “how” of a goal that motivates you; it’s the “why”. Sometimes you’ll end up with something that wasn’t exactly what you imagined, but it still achieves the same result.
5. Love what you do
Plan to enjoy the journey. If it takes willpower, discipline or sacrifice to achieve your goal, it’s harder to do and easier to slip up. Instead, make it fun!
It’s no fun to crawling out of bed an hour early to exercise, but perhaps you can make it fun by exercising with a friend, so you make it a social event as well.
It’s no fun to set aside 10% of your income for wealth creation, but what if you also set aside another 10% as “play money”, to be spent on fun and frivolity?
It’s no fun to call past customers to bring them back into your fold, but what if you invited them to a cocktail party instead?
6. Hang out with people you like
Life’s too short to spend with people you don’t like, love, inspire or are inspired by.
Decide who you want to spend more time with this year, and make sure they’re part of your journey. They don’t have to be actively involved in helping you achieve your goals – although that’s a bonus. But make sure they’re around. And be especially sure you don’t neglect them while achieving your goals.
7. Get help
Whatever your goals, there’s a good chance somebody else has already achieved them. So find the right mentors and ask for their help. You might have to pay, or you might not. Either way, it’s the best way to fast-track your success.
8. Start before you’re ready
You won’t have all your preparation complete. You won’t know exactly what path to follow. There’s always a reason not to start today. But if you’re waiting for the perfect moment to get started, you’ll be waiting a long time. The perfect moment is now.
9. Take a big step first
A rocket uses most of its fuel in escaping the Earth’s atmosphere. After that, it takes very little energy to keep going.
Many of your goals – especially the biggest and most important goals – are similar. Don’t start with baby steps; start with massive strides. The good news is that often just a few strides can make a big difference, and then everything else is easy.
Obviously I’m not suggesting you do dangerous things, like suddenly taking up squash if you’re unfit. But if it’s OK to start walking for 30 minutes a day, start walking. Don’t “build up to it” with unnecessary little steps – e.g. buying new sneakers, starting a journal to record your progress, telling all your Facebook friends, shopping for a new T-shirt to celebrate the start of the journey, and plotting the optimal walking route for different weather conditions. Sure, these small steps are easy, but it’s the first big step (literally in this case) that matters.
10. Do something every day
Do something towards at least one of your goals every day. After all, why wouldn’t you? These activities are fun, not a burden or a chore. So, in addition to working towards your goals, you’re adding some fun and enjoyment to every day of your life!
More importantly, at the end of the year, you will have taken 365 steps – enjoyable steps – towards achieving your goals. That’s 365 more than the average person.
So that’s it. Those are my ten guidelines for easy goal setting.
You can check out Gihan Perera and all he shares by clicking here.