Archive for the ‘Goal Setting’ Category
A lone Bison in the dead of winter, solely focused on finding food. Yellowstone National Park. By Ravi Raman.
Once you have set a goal and motivated yourself to get started, following through and finishing it is the next stumbling block. I have a friend who at one time had a list of almost 100 goals written down that he carried on a piece of paper with him in his wallet at all times. He felt they were all worthwhile and stressed about having to make progress on all of them.
Sound crazy? How many of those goals do you think he accomplished? Setting goals can be the easy part, making initial progress and then actually achieving something meaningful is far more difficult.
Another example can be found at your local gym. In January it was probably packed with people working towards their new years resolutions. Now look around, you will see far fewer people.
Finishing what you start can be a lot easier when you are really clear on why you are going after a goal to begin with. During your goal setting process, write a page (by hand ideally) about how your life will be different once the goal is achieved. Re-read this every week.
You can also perform a trick I like to do. Take your goal page, put it in an self addressed envelope and give it to a friend. Have them mail it to you in a few weeks. Write your goal page as a letter to yourself. Better yet, make a few copies and have a few friends mail it back to you at different intervals.
Doing this also makes you realize that having a ton of goals can be counter-productive and an overall distraction. The same thing applies to daily to-do lists and tactical things you need to get done. Focus on the one big thing and everything else will fall in order.
It helps to have just a few goals, but make sure they are really meaningful (which usually means they are challenging ones). It will be easier to focus and the payoff will be worth it. Instead of 100 or even 10 or 5 goals, start with just one big one!
Harvard Business Review has some other good ideas for staying committed and following through on your goals.
Big planes take a lot of energy to get up in the air over short distances, relative to what takes to move fast at cruising altitude with a tailwind.
Gaining ground on your goals is very similar. Getting started can take a huge amount of effort. Even more effort can be needed to make initial and measurable progress against the goal. It’s easier to do if you remember that it will not always be that hard once you have gained the initial momentum.
There are lots of ways to help out with the initial stages of progress against a goal. The most effective one I’ve found is to seek out a community of like minded people working toward the same, or at least similar, goals.
If your goal is to do a triathlon, join your local tri club (or hire a coach). If your goal is to travel to new places, join a travel group on Meetup.com. If you want to make a job transition, seek out a mentor who is at a place in their career that reflects where you would like to be.
Transforming your life does not require massive action or big goals. It requires steady and methodical progress.
If you have set big and lofty goals for the new year, that is ok. Just remember that it is the daily actions that will slowly but inevitably create the big change you are looking for.
Just like interest in a bank account, the small things compound per time. Losing just an ounce a day of body weight will completely remake your physique over the course of a year. Saving an extra $100 a week will amount to big long term savings over the course of a few decades (invested well, it could pay for a child’s college education!). Meditating for just 10 minutes a day can dramatically improve your ability to focus on everything else you do and give you emotional calm and poise when dealing with other people.
Instead of fretting over having to radically shift your daily routine, focus on the small things you can do consistently. Those are the things that will make all the difference. The hard part is focusing on the long term impact of your decisions, and not getting caught up on the need to see massive shorter term progress. Most people will give up on the early part of the curve in the diagram below. Sticking with it is key!
The presence of a goal is more important than the substance of that goal.
Goals drive focus and a heightened sense of awareness. They provide a context for cause and effect between your actions and outcomes. They start the process of moving toward something worthwhile.
I’ve found that the presence of a goal will have collateral and positive impact on other parts of life. A goal to lose 10 pounds will inevitably help me focus on other things that are not health related – such as work or other creative tasks.
If you are spending a lot of time agonizing over your goals, don’t. It’s more important to pick something that is meaningful, but not perfect, than it is to not pick anything.