I think I came unstuck with goals more than a decade ago.
To me, goals had always been something to do with work. In fact, they were more like targets, linked to objectives in the strategic plan, and meant to fulfill those SMART criteria: specific, manageable, achievable, relevant and timely. In fact, they were more of a stick to beat myself with than about generating a desire to achieve. It was as though I’d put the battery in backwards, and wondered why the gadget wasn’t working.
When I read things about goal setting, I felt a little sniffy. It felt a bit too fey for me, and also a bit – dare I say it – self important. Now I’ve got over myselt, and I’ve come to realise the value of those goals. To do that, I had to get past a lot of excuses for not having a real direction in my life.
I was happy enough, most definitely, but there was no real purpose or bigger plan in anything I did. I found myself dabbling in things. I wasn’t satisfied with myself, and I knew I had to hold myself accountable for striving to make things better. For me, it covered all kinds of things: work, life purpose, home, pleasures. These were the excuses I had to overcome.
I’m happy just drifting in the ocean
While that’s a beautiful place to be, you’re not steering. Currents may bring you to some wonderful destinations, and you might get to play with porpoises. Equally you could end up in one of those foul clusters of plastic, doomed to deteriorate for decades. Or even the Doldrums. We all muddle along in our everyday lives, but having a purpose can be really satisfying.
Setting goals means I might fail
This was a big one for me. Goals can be scary, and there can be a sense that you are putting pressure on yourself when everyday life creates enough pressures of its own. There’s a meme that invites you to shoot for the moon, because if you fail, you’ll land in the stars. Now I am no expert on space geography to know if that is true, but I can tell you that some progress is better than no progress at all.
Take setting goals for fitness such as 10,000 steps a day for example. There are some days when I can’t get to that. But I have a minimum benchmark of 6,000, and I’ll go and walk around the block to make sure I do that. It’s not ideal. It’s definitely way better than the 4,000 I might achieve if I didn’t wear my fitbit and check that I’ve made the reduced target. And it makes the days when I do 15,000 steps without creaking much more possible.
It’s too big. I can’t see how I’ll get there.
Baby steps. When I had the idea to start blogging, I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to hatch a blog, despite having done it before. Nor indeed whether anyone would read it. I stumbled across Julia Bickerstaff’s brilliant Business Bakery, which hosts periodic 100 Day Goal sessions. Julia encourages 100 micro actions which you can take to launch yourself forward. And it doesn’t have to be business. People use it to establish and maintain life changes too: eating, exercising, mindfulness. Others use it to drive business sales. You’ll find the Business Bakery here: http://www.thebusinessbakery.com.au.
I used it to break down the things I needed to do to get this blog show on the road. I didn’t start with 100 actions, more like 80 and the rest followed as I began the process. Once you start, you know what you’ll need to do to get to the next landmark point. And if 100 actions won’t take you to the end, take a coffee break, and lather, rinse, repeat.
I’ll skive off.
You won’t, you know. I’m not. And here’s why. Because you are going to tell people who matter what you are doing. And by people who matter, I don’t mean the ones who will pour vinegar in your Rice Crispies while pulling a sour face, but people who will genuinely support you. If you don’t have those people in real life, and sadly, sometimes that’s the case, then find your tribe online. Find people who share your passions, and they will help you to celebrate the progress you make.
It’s scary, and it took me a while to actually share what I was doing with friends and family. When they ask how things are going, it’s a good reality check. Yes, the house has been rewired and I’ve painted the sitting room. I may not be the world’s best painter, but it looks way better than it did. And you know what? I’m proud of the progress. I feel satisfied when I say that I’ve done it. And I feel happy when I look at the difference I’ve made.
What if I hate it when I get there
That’s possible. But you won’t have made the journey without learning many things about yourself and what makes you get out of bed each morning. Take all of that and use it. If you know what you hate, you must know what you love, and you now know you have the discipline to achieve it. So get yourself on that road instead. One baby step at a time.