Goal Setting – Series Conclusion (part 10)
I appreciate you sharing this Goal Setting series with me and I want to make one last post to wrap up this topic – at least for now.
In closing, I want to reiterate 3 key points or factors in my goal setting process, tell one personal story that illustrates the significance of having a goal, and tease a new tool that may be in the works.
3 Key Points
As this is a recap, you may have already become familiar with these points but if I’m repeating myself it is only because I find the information helpful and important to me and hope the same is true for you.
1st Key Point – As humans we are strange, unique, beautiful, and insanely complex individuals. We have wants and needs that often seem in conflict and we also have a pressing need for harmony – our personal scales may differ but we each seek our own sense of balance. For this reason, I establish goals across multiple fronts.
If you’ve followed this entire series you know that I establish goals unique to 8 facets of my life – Spiritual, Financial, Career, Personal Development, Physical, Family, Social, and Household. This forces or inspires (depending upon my mindset any given day) to make progress within each area of my life.
You’ve seen bodybuilders – in cartoons or in real life – that only worked their upper bodies. They’ll have huge arms and barrel chests and bowling ball shoulders… all atop a spindly pair of bird legs. Frankly, for all their impressive bulk, they just look silly. Their true strength begins to present as a weakness.
I think the same idea holds true in the area of goal setting or personal development. If I spend all my time working to fast track my financial goals but my wife leaves me and my health taps out then what do I really have to show for my efforts? I’d rather have modest success along all fronts than huge progress in some areas offset by actual regression in others.
2nd Key Point – You must select a distant star to properly chart your course. What do ancient sea captains and mall managers have in common? They both use tools that require an acknowledgement of where I am now and where I want to be in the future. Sea captions used a sexton and mall managers use “You Are Here” signage, but the inputs, outputs, and results are categorically the same. Columbus discovers a new world and you sucessfully navigate to the GAP.
In the terms of my goal setting model, we must define goals along several timeframes or intervals. This allows us to identify true success while also identifying time-based intermediate goals designed to propel us forward.
As you are likely aware by now, I use 5 unique timelines – Man in Full, 5 Year Goals, 1 Year Goals, 1 Month Goals, and Activities for Today. I explain these in more detail in Part 1 of this series so I’ll spare you the full recap in this space.
3rd Key Point – This is the smallest point and easiest to overlook. I often neglect this step and then lament my lack progress towards the larger objective. The journey towards our goals starts now. It starts with a single trip to the gym, a single credit purchase avoided, a single “I love you” spoken to a spouse, a single prayer to God.
But taking this action today does not complete my effort. I must do it again and again and again until I am the change I had envisioned. If I am fat, I must act as a skinny person until I am a skinny person.
I think I’ve used this line in nearly every episode in this serial but it’s because it encapsulates my idea so darned perfect:
Just as Rome was not built in a day and the longest journey begins with a single step, the power in this model is in how it causes us to consider our end product each day. In this way we do not simply arrive at our destination as much as we invent habits and patterns that over time reveal our vision through us.
1 Personal Story
The summer before my senior year in high school I trained pretty hard for the upcoming football season. That’s not to say that I was a good player – that was decidedly not the case – but I did train hard that summer. Three times a week I was in the weight room for 2-3 hours at a time and I was outside running 5-6 days a week. Some days it was 100 degrees outside and other days it was raining but the thought of skipping a session never even entered my mind.
The season came and went and I wanted to return to my previous training regiment… but something had changed. The idea of running every day was a drag. But why, it had been fun before. The weight room was still fun but only in 45 minute increments rather than 3 hour muscle busting marathons. What happened?
What happened is that I had lost my vision. I still wanted the results of the hard training but I didn’t want the process and I had no immediate goal or obstacle. The promise – or threat – of fall training camp had inspired my activity. Now without such a burning inspiration there was little or no activity.
Perhaps there will never be a motivating factor quite like I enjoyed that summer, but I have had success in setting tangible near term goals. And when I stack these goals over time, I can begin to accomplish some impressive results. The key is to find your vision stick with it and the results will follow.
If you’ve visited the Free Financial Tools section of this site you’ll know that I am a spreadsheet junkie. I love the functionality and track lots of stuff. I love the maxim ‘what gets measured gets done’.
To that end, I have designed a multi-paged spreadsheet that I use to track my goals across each category and timeframe. If there is an interest, I’ll see about translating it into a public version and posting it here as a download.
If you’re interested please let me know via comment or email and if the interest is substantial, I’ll do my best to make it available.
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