>Identifying goals and priorities is vital to a successfully balanced life. Once when presenting a keynote in Washington at the state mental health conference, I asked a room of professionals the following question and gave them 30 seconds to respond.
>What are the three driving motivators (priorities) for this season of your life? Amazingly, only several of the 300 hundred attendees were able to complete the task.
Most people have been asked to set goals at one point or another. In a newly released survey of 1012 Americans, only 45% of Americans now say they write up New Year’s Resolutions down from 88% of Americans who did so in the past. Fear of setting goals too high, fear of commitment, and not knowing what course to chart are just a few reasons people shudder at the concept of goals.
“If you do not change directions, you may end up where you are heading,” write Lao-Tsu.
To change directions deliberately, we need goals. I define goals as: The process of deliberately setting our sight, attention and intention on a destination, and staying true to the process until we arrive.
Imagine leaving Los Angeles with instructions to go to New York. Obviously, it would be easier to accomplish this with a map. Without a map, the trip would be nearly impossible, or require much more time and effort than the simple process of purchasing a map. Goals work the same way. Clearly defined goals identify a starting point and the most efficient path to a desired point.
When goals are recorded and then set aside, this is as useful as putting a map in your glove box, yet expecting to know which road to take without ever looking at it. Goals need to be consulted regularly, just like a map, and if you get off course, you need to re-evaluate and make a new plan. To design a goal map, first identify an area of your life where you seek advancement. Use that area to work through the goal process that follows. For this example, I’ll use the goal of starting a part-time business for extra income.
Here are the basic steps to create a goal map:
Identify the exact goal. In one sentence, clarify the goal you are aiming to accomplish as specifically as possible. Example: To open a part-time tax business that brings in $300 a month in extra income (gross).
Identify a completion date. My business will be established in eighteen months.
Identify the evolution of the goal. What major points and steps happen during this time period?
A. The basics of establishing a business, permits, licensing, updating certification, financial.
B. The marketing and announcement of the business.
C. The grand opening of the business. Using this evolution assign each major step a date.
Fill in the blanks. Now take an in-depth look at what is needed to get to point A, from point A to point B, etc. Write these steps down in specific detail and assign each a date.
The basic template construction of your goal is complete. Type this up, print it out, and keep a copy in your planner. Check your progress against this goal regularly. If you get off track, don’t give up, just sit down and retrace your steps, adjusting the plan as necessary. Remember, if you were driving and got lost, you wouldn’t likely just abandon your car and walk home. Instead you would get out a map, or ask for help, to find out how to get back toward the destination you are pursuing. Do the same thing with your goals and you will take steps toward making them a reality in the year to come.
Goals should be exciting enough to compel us forward to take action. When seeking a balance and fulfilled year, one strategy is to identify the areas in your life that are most important right now. For example, career, finance, family, friends, spirituality, health, philanthropy… what areas are most important to you at this season of your life? Remember, we cannot fix everything all at once so it is important to prioritize and choose just a few areas to work with – three at most. That doesn’t mean you will ignore or neglect the other areas, but it does mean that you will focus more on the selected areas by following a specific plan of action.
Your Weekly Challenge: What areas of life are calling you to create goals? Create a goal plan using these steps. Keep your goals in a place where you will see them often. Each day, take a step forward toward at least one of your goals. Careful planning matched by action equals goals transformed to reality.
When Times Get Tough ….
Count your blessings: When an obstacle or situation brings us down it can be easy to count the many things wrong with our situation. Switch perspective. Find something positive to focus on. Can’t find something? Create it. Like attracts like. Count how many things are wrong with your life and surely the list will multiply. Count the positives and they will multiply instead.
Take a break: When we are tired (either emotionally or physically) discipline is an uphill battle likely to leave us frustrated. Instead of feeling guilty for going off track (which ultimately leads to staying off track) Give yourself a one-day “Goal Break.” Forget the guilt and enjoy the time off. Then come back fresh the next day. What is better–putting goals off for another year or a day?
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What’s On Your List?
Resolutions, Goals and Plans for 2009
Set a Little Resolution: What is one “little goal” you could set that would make a big difference? Here are a few on my list …
1. Give careful thought to the name I give a computer file before saving it to make it easier to find later
2. Never click “submit” for any new service without first writing down all my details, including user name and password in the internet section of my notebook … Often a small change requiring very little time can yield a big difference!
Your Challenge: Set one Little Resolution for the year ahead.