Stop setting goals and start making decisions
Do you find yourself reminiscing about resolutions you set last New Year’s Eve, a goal the night of graduation, the wishes upon a star on the beach that time? The goal you never quite accomplished or the one you did?
What happened afterward?
Play along. Pick one that sticks in your mind. How far did you get? Did you get halfway, almost there, all the way to the podium, finish the five kilometres, or get distracted by a shiney thing?
If you did achieve it, how has getting that goal changed you? What were the benefits or accolades you got and what have you done with your result since? Are you happier? What inspiring stories do you tell and how have you changed the world around you because of it?
What happened if you didn’t get the result you wanted? When did you stop? Why do you think you did?
Here’s what happens: You set a goal! An outrageous goal of something you’ve wanted forever, such as an achievable sales outcome or goal at home.
“A body at rest remains at rest unless acted on by a full bladder or an empty wine glass.”
You did all the things they tell you to do in the books. Write out your plan, set timelines, outline milestones where you buy yourself something nice when achieved. You set consequences if you don’t hit your target on time. You recalibrate and start again. It’s all very simple and orderly isn’t it? What if you got so into the slight adjustments and changes you had to make to get that goal you didn’t even realize you’d gotten there… congratulations! Goal achieved. Now what?
Wait, did I just say you’d have to… change?
I may have forgotten to tell you that part. To get a different result, something, or someone has to change and that someone is you. Things don’t change, we do. Not only what you do, how you do it changes, you may even have to change how you think and feel. When you say you want something different you have to change things. It’s non-negotiable, but change is hard.
Human beings love inertia. A body at rest remains at rest unless acted on by a full bladder or an empty wine glass. The number one reason people choose not to get to their finish line is because they feel it’s too hard to change.
How about flipping ‘it’s hard’ on its head. Consider deciding ‘it’s hard’ to battle the gravity of sameness and being comfortable in order to forge into the unknown.
The number two reason goal setting fails is, without a plan for what you will do and who you will be after you achieve the goal, there remains a big black hole called, now what?
Some archetypes of the 21st century are perpetual student, chronic dieter, lifetime athlete, what about serial entrepreneur going from idea to idea without ever having to… well you get my point.
Last century, archetypes like stay-at-home mom, nurse, fireman, teacher were all end games for many people. People go to school, get a job, do the job, raise a family… or not, pay off their mortgage, get a grandchild or four, dream about retirement, retire… now what? Wait to die?
Make a decision this year, after the holidays of course, to stop setting goals. Start with your now what? Begin to set intentions and fulfill outcomes, then work backward. It’s a shorter distance to the end game.
With a commitment to fulfilling intentions, your vision becomes clear and a plan to achieve the outcome begins to unfold. Have you noticed when you make a decision, take a stand and decide what you must have your life feel and be like, the right people and opportunities begin to show up?
“When you say you want something different you have to change things.”
How do you know goal setting isn’t working? Look around you. Do you have exactly what you want? Have you accomplished the goals you set? If so, great, you have stayed true to a path that was aligned with fulfilling intentions. Well done. If not, then by default, your life becomes the sum result of goals you set or didn’t set in the past. Look at your life, job, friends, level of satisfaction or happiness. This is it. If you’d wanted something different, you’d have something else.
Remember, as George Bernard Shaw famously said: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”