Finding fascinating goals
Some clichés are clichés because they’re true. “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it,” is one.
Tolstoy wisely said, “Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.” Think of changing you before you think of changing others.
Habitual complainers usually have more goals for others than they have for themselves.
Goal-setting conversations that begin with goals are off target. All personal goal-setting conversations begin by asking, “What are my values?” Create targets that express who you are.
You may require help uncovering your values. They lie hidden under behaviors. Find someone that asks probing questions and restates the obvious.
A young leader I’ve coached said they valued order and procedures. I said, “Do you value conformity?” They quickly said, “No, that’s not it.” Upon further exploration, we learned they valued environments where the path to success is clearly defined. The real value was the path not order and procedure.
Goals without values are bullies that push you around. On the other hand, targets aligned with your values pull you toward them.
Goals enable milestones. Achieving milestones energizes and motivates. Every list-maker knows the motivational power of checking something off their list.
Reach beyond doing to accomplishment. Setting a goal to contact ten clients today is good. Setting a goal to sell five units of product is better.
I’m not sure what it is but there’s something powerful about written goals. Someone said, “Goals that are not written down are just wishes.” Can you write down today’s goals? Do they focus on accomplishment more than tasks? Are they more about you than others? Will you know when you achieve them?
“It’s time to start the life you have imagined,” Henry James.
What personal goal-setting tips can you offer the Leadership Freak community?
GREAT post Dan. I believe one should factor in one’s stage of development when postulating goals. For me goals have changed based on where I am on the ladder of life. You are absolutely right about having values help steer the course however. I also feel it is important to prioritize goals. I for one write them down but not knowing how long it will take to accomplish them can cause confusion and sometimes wasted energy if they are not ranked. I try to group goals into different groups based on expectations i.e. for today. sometime this month, year, within 5 years or for life. the quick wins motivate but are not always that satisfying and one wonders how important the goal was to begin with. Being realistic is always a challenge if one believes in the concept “if you can dream it, you can do it.” These days at my ripe old age I try to keep it simple and go for the ones I can see on the horizon and seem attainable but continue to “dream” about others and when and if I get a second wind will certainly consider taking the leap. I know that the most satisfying achievements experienced in the past have always had inherent risk but then the “young” will dare a lot more. Perhaps some personal coaching will help get that second burst of energy? Have a great day. AD
I am with you, Al, doing the ‘baby step’ goals these days, they still add up…especially because wishing I lost 30 pounds immediately doesn’t seem to work. Also, agree in scanning the horizon for new goals/options as they do seem to pop up.
Leave it to you to remind me about the weight issue! thanks, 🙂 Al……….now another goal to write down and this one is no where near the horizon but rather “close.” 🙂
You’re right on with starting with values (I love the bully analogy). I also think any goal brainstorming session needs to start without considering constraints. Ask yourself:
What’s the craziest thing you’d like to accomplish if money, time, connections, and experience weren’t a factor?
After you’ve got some insane ideas down, then slowly bring in constraints, drawing your goals down a little closer to earth. This works much better than going the other way!
Sometimes “crazy” turns out to be do-able!
As you say, values matter most because they drive the goal setting. Goals that don’t match your values are a giant waste of time.
When a client asks me, “Kate how did you change your career & leave corporate job to become self-employed?” — I tell them it’s not a change of career. It is a change of your life.
STEP1 for sure is to answer this question: What kind of life do you want?
Same can be used for any goal setting and it’s never too late to set fascinating goals.
Another great post and so timely for me. Another of my favorite goal setting clichés is, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
My problem has always been, “where do I begin?” I love the comments that have been left and especially Kate’s question, “What kind of life do you want?” I know that this is a question that I need to honestly think about and WRITE down the answers as I continue on my professional and personal journey. I continually struggle with where do I want my focus to be professionally, figuring out what am I really good at and what do I want to do next.
Thank you for reminding me that I need to assess my values in evaluating my goals and figuring out what part of that delicious elephant that I want to take a bite out of first!
Adrienne, it is so nice to see someone I actually know face-to-face here on LeadershipFreak! I love the imagery of a “delicious elephant” – it’s a reminder that the journey should be one of optimistic discovery rather than pessimistic plodding!
Here’s an exercise that will help you simplify your soul searching — keep a pad of paper wherever you relax. For 2 weeks, write down any characteristic of the life you want. Do not analyze it along the way. Just write and walk away.
After 2 weeks, look at the paper. A pattern will emerge and from that you can write your description.
FYI: I get thoughts at various times — so I have a little pad in my purse, an AquaNotes pad in my shower, and of course a pad where I relax.
Good luck and let me know how I can assist you further!
AquaNotes? Never knew such a thing existed – this may put me into ecstasy (and my spouse into “you write notes to yourself in the shower now TOO” mode)!
Just a little scary there Paula… 😉
A goal is a what by when…we often know the what and forget to add the by when. I follow Jaques line of thought with goals that they are dependent and requisite upon the Time Span Capability of the person setting them, and the By When determine the complexity. Longer time span more complex, shorter time span less complex.
Great post, Dan. For more fun with cliches, don’t forget “goals are just dreams with a deadline.”
Also, its an interesting point you’ve made that values lie hidden under behaviors. I agree and believe values (ambitions) are the ‘why’ influencing behaviors, which are ‘the what.’
Great stuff as always.
“Goals without values are bullies that push you around” I like that. (are you sure you’re not a life coach? 🙂
Dan, it is abundantly clear that you live up to your value of “helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less”. I’ve come to rely on your integrity and I’ve not been disappointed. Thank you.
Some may disagree with the power of it, but I have found that goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevent (flow from values), and Time-Bound) are more effective than abstract/vague goals.
A SMART goal: “By April 15, 2011 I will have organized my closet so that I can find things quicker in the morning, leaving me time to spend more time in prayer.”
A DUMB goal: “I will organize my closet sometime this year.”
Hey Scott, love the SMART way you put things. 🙂 Al
Thanks Again Dan. Is it the written goal or the act of writing? I promote that people write down a problem, on the basis that by the time they have defined it well enough to write it down, 90% of the time they wil have solved it. That said, i absolutely believe that written goals work even if you never look at them after you wrote them down Best Richard
Great point Croadie! And by writing it down, it can’t just keep ‘drifting’ and ‘bumping’ into things inside your head. Not that any of us would perseverate on goals…
You can actually give yourself permission to not have to keep thinking about it because you gave it a life of its own on the paper…just don’t lose the paper!
I’ve already threatened Dan with a visit. So here’s my goal for today: by the end of 2012 I will have had a beer with Doc. (:
That may make the case for a non-virtual gathering of the LF community….
I agree that habitual complainers opens door for others and shrinks door for themselves. They do no thave time for constructive work. They give what they have. I think, tips for personal goal settings is to address fundamental questions. These could be what, where, why, when and how. If you can satisfy yourself with these words, I am sure, half of the goal setting criteria is met.
I always aks the basic questions before starting to proceed towards my priority. I take longer time to align my interest and goal. When I align, my energy level, enthusiasm and passion level provide multiplier impact. So, alignment of goal to the purpose is basic and then prioritise with time and resource is even more important. Effort, determination and committment follow you towards your goal.
Dan, I love today’s post and I love the idea of “fascinating goals” – shouldn’t we all aspire to “fascinating”? I too have received (and followed) the advice to write down my goals. My top three goals are not just written down, I carry them on a slip of paper in my purse so they are “always close to me.” Both of these strategies were recommended to me by Scott Ginsberg (http://www.hellomynameisblog.com/).
In addition, I believe there is power in telling others our goals in order to make ourselves accountable (and enlist those close to us to help us fulfill our dreams). It is unusual that it is almost the end of February and I haven’t blogged about my 2011 goals yet, but I will … and I will hope that people help me remain accountable.
And I agree about values behind goals. I read a nice quote that dovetails with your post: Good things happen when you get your priorities straight. –Scott Caan (this quote appeared on today’s Charityfocus.org “Daily Good”: http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?qid=4465)
Now off to find that life I have imagined and my version of the “delicious elephant” (see Adrienne’s comment above!).
When Paula? It looks like you have 4/5 of Scott’s SMART formula for your 2011 goals, lol.
Doc – absolutely right. One is a holdover from 2010 that got bumped when my husband lost his job but they’re all 2011!
Yet another energizing post and threads, thanks all!
Flipping the title a little, are you finding your goals fascinating? If not, why not? Whose goals are they then?
Had to laugh Dan in the First Base comment about the path being clear and defined…wish we all had that road map. Seems I have to trade the maps in periodically to see what other paths work…even my GPS in my car suggested I take a leap of faith and drive over a 75 foot drop off recently…time for a new map (and updated GPS).
The ‘Bullies’ analogy was also excellent and so true, well written sir!
As far as tips for goals go, one could riff off of the SMART sheet of music and go multi-modal. Identify your goal steps in all realms…verbal, written, visual, tactile, intellectual, spiritual, social, and then draft up the orchestration or to mix metaphors, a road map.
All maps show the long way, the scenic way and short ways and you need options for roadblocks, potholes and other construction projects to get you where you think you want to be going. Good to be aware when you may have shifted into reverse a little…”I’ll never…” Remember it is the journey
Finally, if you truly hit a dead end (perhaps also validated by others), the Lakota saying comes to mind…the best strategy when riding a dead horse, dismount.
“If you will it, it is no dream.” Herzl
Now, excuse me while i stop reading and go write down my goals. Once more, thanks, Dan!
Wonderful post, Dan, and I’m in concert with everyone else about loving the “Goals without values are bullies that push you around” axiom.
Geoff Webb suggests we begin with “what’s the craziest thing you want to accomplish”. I suggest we do much more by keeping an ongoing, yet periodically exhaustive list of ALL the things you want to accomplish, (i.e. Kate Nasser’s ongoing list and “the kind of life you want”) – including ALL of the “craziest” as well as the most mundane things you want to do, to have, to become. . .
I coach people to generate a list of at least 100 “wants” before they do too much prioritizing or goal-planning. I also give them the tools to do so, since most people have trouble coming up with 10 dreams because they’ve been conditioned to suppress them. Through this and a couple of other key steps, they identify their true values, and e-VALUE-ate them before creating WAY SMART goals (WAY = WRITTEN, ALIGNED (with values, other goals, etc, and YOURS – by Yours I mean YOU want the goal and you understand why).
It seems two things get in the way of our values and goals more than almost anything else:
1. Other dreams we suppress or lesser goals we’ve settled on;
2. and attending to the possible obstacles to all the conceivable things we want before getting specific about our goals.
Folks, no matter what goal you choose there will be obstacles, so doesn’t it make sense to get clear on your goal first so that you can address only the obstacles that really impact your goal?
Hmm, do we learn more from how we deal with the obstacles than the goals we achieve?
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I believe without a goal in mind – or more than one – you won’t easily find inspiration for what you do. Actually, it’s even better to write down those goals and keep them handy, in some evident place, in order to constantly be reminded what you’re working for.
If you have it written down, it won’t be easy to “forget” about it – which is just another way of soft-failing.
Great tips. Having goals, especially formed in SMART format, is a great way to really make them happen.
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One of my favorite goal-setting tips is the concept of “leading a horse to water.” Sometimes our goals can be so big, that just getting started can seem overwhelming. For example, say that your goal is to get more organized. And one of the things you require to get more organized is to file away the spread of papers on your desk and around your office. This in itself is enough to cause you to find ANYTHING else to do, than to get to the filing. So, using the “leading a horse to water” concept, you would just commit to yourself (add it to your to-do list, perhaps), that you will spend just 5 minutes today on filing away those papers. There’s a possibility; however, that after those 5 minutes are done, that you’re on a role and you keep on going. And that’s fine, too! Hope the community finds this tip helpful. 🙂
Great advice! Often, the thing we keep putting off doesn’t take a long as we anticipate. Plus its energizing to make progress.
leaders are successful if they feel motivated by what they give rather than what they get. Building a great team and successor to take over and grow the organisation, when you are gone, is the ultimate leader