Goal setting is one of my favourite topics to talk about.
(Probably because I like to think I am pretty good at it)
Most of the goals I have set myself so far I have achieved.
But.. more importantly (and the key point of this article); they are the goals I actually want to achieve.
We are all well aware that goals are important; everyone talks about them and goal setting is drilled into us from an early age.
But we don’t get told what a real goal actually is.
The Usual Suspects
When people set goals without really thinking, this is what they will come out like:
– “I want to be rich”/”I want to have $1,000,000 in my bank account”
– “I want to marry a beautiful woman/man”
– “I want a big house by the sea”
– “I want to run a successful business”
– “I want a great career”
– “I want 3 happy children”
– “I want to lose weight”
They seem like good goals to achieve right?
That is, until you reach them and realise you had everything upside down.
Crucially they don’t consider what it actually takes to get there, whether it is something you really want or what it actually feels like to achieve that goal.
They are not just vague; they are completely lacking in a touch of your real personality.
Let’s break some of these goals down:
Money – Getting money is, for most people, always possible. We can work hard, work smart, learn more, push harder and we can get to that goal.
But at what sacrifice? And why did you want that money in the first place?
If you wanted it so you can travel the world, then most likely you are now to busy to do so. So what was the real end goal?
A beautiful husband/wife – I know a few beautiful looking girls who would drive me coconuts if I had to spend all day, every day with them.
What do you really want here? Maybe it’s somebody your attracted to, who laughs at your stupid jokes, who supports you when you feel down, who shares some of your interests and is loyal to you.
Imagine your perfect day, week, month and year with your life partner. That is what you really want.
I want to lose weight – This goal really needs tearing apart..
Why do you want to lose weight? Are you training for a sport? Do you want to look good in a dress? Do you have health problems?
If so, your real goal is “Running the London Marathon in 2017” or “Curing my diabetes”.
That is achievable and it really gets to the bottom of what you want.
Now while these common “goals” are not really your true goals, they still matter and they can still play a part.
The cogs in your Goal Machine
Goals like losing weight and earning a million dollars still have a place… just not as goals.
They are part of the bigger picture. They are your essential machine parts and engine oil that work together to get you where you want to be.
Do you want to live in a mansion by the sea with your own boat? Your going to need some money for that.
Do you want to be able to play sports with your kids? Losing weight can be part of achieving that goal.
The key is recognizing and focusing on the goal that you actually believe in. A goal that makes you happy to think about. A goal that comes from you and your personality.
A true goal.
Finding your true goals
You already know what your true goals are, but they might be buried deep down.
Underneath the expectations of others.
Obscured by that hulking figure of “realistic expectations”.
Crushed by the lack of real belief that it can actually come true.
You might also be looking at other people, thinking they “have everything” and setting your goals based on that.
You got to find your own true goals.
I don’t have the map for you but I can share with you how I find out mine.
I ask myself questions about my perfect day, my perfect week, my perfect year and my perfect lifetime.
The trick is to keep an open mind, have fun and don’t limit yourself.
Get in touch with yourself and enjoy the daydream of what your life will be like.
The perfect day – What do I see when I open my eyes? What is my house like when I get out of bed? Who is there with me? How much time do I spend working? What is the weather like? What am I going to do that day?
My perfect week – What did the week look like? Who did I spend it with? How much exercise did I do? Did I play any sports? What did I eat? What did I do for work? Where am I? What am I doing next week? Do I have routine or is it spontaneous?
My perfect year – What new skills did I learn this year? Where did I visit? How much time did I spend with my family? Did I make any new friends? Did I stay in touch with old friends? How many parties did I go to? Did I teach anybody? Did I give any money to charity? Did I start a business? Did I close a business?
When you ask yourself these questions (and your own questions) something will come out that you probably didn’t expect.
Tip: Write it down with a pen and paper. Yes, it feels like homework, but it works. (More on writing stuff down: The Five Minute Journal Review)
Explore them, play with them and daydream some more, and you will find your goals.
The other parts of the goal engine
We are not quite there yet..
Sometimes our goals conflict and we can only see that when we break them down.
I am sorry to say you can’t quite have it all. It’s pretty unlikely that you will run a profitable business while spending a silent year in a cave with Tibetan monks.
But the good news is, this helps you fine tune the goals you want the most.
Or the goals you want first; do the monk thing for a year and then start your business.
So let’s take a look at the other common parts of your goal engine and make sure you have them available.
Time – Most goals need time. Either that is your actual time spent on the goal, or it’s a period of time before the goal can be reached, or both.
Energy – It’s going to take up your mental and/or physical resources in some way. Do you have enough focus when you consider your other goals and commitments?
Money -You might need money. Do you have it already or do you need to earn it as part of your goal?
Other parts – Maybe your goal involves other people, a bit of luck, the right weather conditions.. whatever it is, break it down as part of your goal.
When you pick apart your goal into realistic steps you will see what little parts of the engine you need.
Fall in love with your goal
This is the fun bit.
Imagine yourself achieving that goal. How does it feel?
Picture it. Enjoy it. See the affect it has on your life and those around you.
Stick it up on your wall and look at it every day. Smile at it.
Yes.. Lah lah lah, this is a bit hippy. But it’s fun and it works.
Do it every day.
You can also summarize your goal in a simple sentence that means something to you.
When I was younger I decided I wanted to live on the beach where the sun was always shining. I pictured it in detail and worked out all the little steps to that goal.
I somehow came across this sentence: “The dream of wearing shorts forever”.
I don’t know where it came from, but it made sense to me and I attached it to my goal. Thinking about it brought the feeling and everything about that goal back to me.
Whatever you do and however you do it, just make sure you feel that goal.
Let’s do a quick test and see if your goals are true…
A real, genuine, achievable goal is:
- Personal and unique to us
- Actually exciting when we think about it
- Is something we really want, not what we think we want
- Includes a breakdown of how we get to that goal
- It doesn’t conflict with our other goals or
- It’s something you can actually feel, visualize and smile about
Run your goal by this list and keep tweaking it until it fits.
We don’t always get it right first time…
Remember my goal from before?
“The dream of wearing shorts forever”
For me this meant waking up in a beach hut, drinking from a fresh coconut and kite surfing all day.
I achieved that goal and it was fun.. for a while.
Because very quickly I got used to it. I didn’t appreciate it as much as before.
I started to think that there is more to life than this every day.
Eventually I realised that happiness also comes from helping others and a more balanced life (but that’s another story).
So I changed my goal and I learned something.
Keep your mind open; you will learn something too and your goals will surely change
So now we have our goals, what next?
There are a lot of different methods to achieving your goals and I have my own..
.. but that is a future article and I believe everyone is different.
Just remember this very important first step; find out your own true goals