I just wrapped up my last session with one of my clients and we discussed what was next for her on her journey. We talked about where she started and how far she has come, and how after you reach one goal, it’s inevitable to start a new one. That is what learning is all about. As we closed out, the advice that I gave her was to ensure she continues to make her goals as clear as possible so that she does not get derailed from the thing(s) that she wants to do. Oftentimes we make these mediocre goals – lose weight, read more books, save money; and these goals sound wonderful, but they aren’t filled with much clarity and specificity.
You’ve heard of SMART goals. Goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. If I use the SMART method against one of my goals such as the one to read more books, I need to ensure that it has a # component that tells me how many and by what date; a measurable component to keep me accountable; maybe a genre and whether it is audiobooks, physical softcover or hardcover books, or an iBook/Kindle. Get as specific as possible because that is what will keep you honest about what you can achieve, and quite frankly, motivated too.
When it comes to making goals, I also think about how goals should be written down. The Bible tells us to write the vision and make it plain. In business, you will create artifacts (banners, posters, slide decks, etc.) that memorialize your goals. This is because it’s suggested that if it isn’t written, it isn’t official. Whether you write it in a journal, create a slide deck, create a vision board, or post stickies on a board – write your goals down.
But there is a very crucial element when we think about our goals that we often skip over, especially at the beginning of the year, when we think we can just flip the light switch on and go for it. This element is your mindset. We know that when you don’t have a growth mindset – one that is open, curious, and filled with possibility, you are less likely to have the ability to write a goal that is clear and less likely to follow through on your commitments.
Here are some tried and true mindset shifts that you can take forward on your goals this year.
You can have anything that you want, but it is not possible to have everything; and therefore, you must prioritize. When you choose specific goals, it is inevitable that you will have to reject doing some other things. I often ask my clients if they choose x, what will they say no to? It becomes difficult, but it is necessary. Most people will try to pursue multiple goals and will end up achieving none or very few at all. Don’t get paralyzed by the choices, prioritize and focus on the one that is most important to you.
Know the difference between a Goal and a Desire.
A goal is tied to something that you most need to achieve. Desires on the other hand can be the things that prevent you from getting to the goal. For me, this year, I have a goal to lose weight. I have a desire to eat what I want anytime that I want. Unfortunately, my desire will get in the way of the goal. If you want to achieve success, choose the thing that is most necessary, versus the thing that is a good to have. Don’t allow your desire to consume you so much that you choose it over the real thing. Instead celebrate your wins with the desires of your heart when you reach the goal.
Just because it seems unattainable, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
As you are walking the path towards your goal, it’s almost inevitable that things that you did not anticipate will make you second guess yourself and make you think that your goal is not worth it. You will want to stop and not pursue the goal at all. Don’t! Don’t allow the bumps in the road to deter you. Examine what you are supposed to learn, and keep going. If you were able to dream up the goal, the goal is possible.
Be Flexible and Accountable.
You should not stop going after your goals when things come in your way, so you have to be flexible on how you get there, and hold yourself accountable by having a by any means necessary mindset. Keeping yourself flexible enough to pivot and try something new is important because you never know what the right way is, you only the right ending; and therefore, you have to be able to learn and iterate when roadblocks come up. Its equally important to have a mindset that says stopping is personal failure when there aren’t any real harmful consequences (like death or jail). So you hold yourself accountable to staying motivated and finding a way in the midst of the bumps in the road because you are bound to succeed when you keep going.
Know how to handle setbacks.
There will be things that you will come against that you can’t avoid. Life will always throw you rotten tomatoes and although it feels devastating at the time, you must figure out how to move forward, minimize or deal with losses and make the best possible choice knowing you will be rewarded in the long run.