Goals Without Plans: Just Well-Intentioned Daydreams
I am a “serial goal setter”! I have used goals all my life to chart my path and measure my progress. Perhaps it’s my need to be in control that has driven me to do this or my desire to anticipate what may be looming over the next horizon. Be that as it may, I do know that far too many sales people allow others to chart their course. They blindly accept yearly quotas as their goals for the New Year, never imagining they could enhance their results by layering personal “quality of life goals” on top of them.
This is the time of year when we begin to hear a great deal about setting goals for the New Year. The thought of a fresh year with no blemishes drives many to dream of new beginnings and better performance. The sad truth is that most just talk about goals and rarely act. They are content to fantasize about what could be.
Goals without plans and daily actions are well-intended daydreams. For the last 17 years I have been captivated by the thought of climbing Mt. Everest. I have read an inordinate amount of books on the subject and have even gone so far as to create a map, in my mind, of how I would accomplish it, yet I haven’t taken even one concrete step in the direction of the mountain itself so the dream lives on but it appears it will never materialize.
Each of us has a lifeline that we are currently moving along to our final destination. It begins at birth and ends when we draw our last breath. We have an incredible number of choices to make on the journey, but one among all of these normally defines our life. Have you chosen to live a life of default (choices made for you) or design (your choices)?
Let me ask you the question that will be the central theme for the rest of this article, “Are you a goal setter or a problem solver?” Most will clearly fall on one side or the other with the highest performers usually on the side of the goal setters. In reality only two percent of the world proudly claim to be goal setters and the other ninety-eight percent rely on problem solving to move through their life. Problem solvers will argue they move through life at the same pace as goal setters. The only flaw in their argument is they usually progress in the direction of the problems they solve and not in the direction that their life could have taken.
Here is an exercise that I always perform at this time of year. Take out eight pieces of blank paper and title each page with one of the following words: Social, Physical, Spiritual, Financial, Educational, Work, Family and Personal. Under each heading, create a list of what you want to accomplish for 2012. Ask yourself the following questions as you prioritize each list:
- What behaviors will you have to change in order to accomplish each one?
- How committed are you to achieving the individual items on each list?
- What will achieving each item do for you personally?
- What roadblocks will you have to overcome to accomplish each one?
- Who will be your accountability partner?
- How will you celebrate each accomplishment?
There are 52,602 books on goal setting listed on Amazon.com so if you need more specifics on the process, any one of them can provide them. Experience, however, tells me that it’s not about the “how”, it’s about the “whether”.
My hope is that the goal setters who read this article will be motivated to establish more elaborate, aggressive goals and achieve even greater heights. To the rest, I encourage you to set some small goals and test the water. Pick something that will force you to stretch your life beyond your current comfort zone and unconditionally commit to working on it for the next twenty days. Pay close attention to your experience at the fourteen-day mark as this is where the magic occurs. Here is where you get to make a choice because your mind will begin to “convince” you that the degree of difficulty is too great and you should opt out of the process. If you press through this sabotaging self-talk, you have the potential to gain control of your future. Then, it is simply a matter of following the directions on most shampoo bottles, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” “Set goals, Achieve your dreams, Set more goals.”