You might have read the title of this article and said, “Huh?” The wording might seem paradoxical but bear with me for a minute. I was working with a client who was trying to reboot her business. As many of us can do when first starting, she decided to be everything to all people. I was helping her to become more focused on what services her small company should offer when I realized we weren’t moving forward very quickly. I mindfully looked back at working together for the past month to discover why.
Then, I had one of those “Ah-ha” moments when clarity came to my mind. I realized my client was great at setting goals. The problem was that setting her goals for all aspects of her business was taking precedence over working on the most critical objectives. As I gave it more thought, I realized I had run into this phenomenon quite a bit in my past. I might even have been guilty of it myself!
We always talk about how important goals are to any endeavor – business, fitness, relationships, finances, etc. You name it, and we are programmed to have goals. That is fantastic! We need goals as they are our roadmap to get to where we think our destination is in life. Unfortunately, we can get so sidetracked with making goals that we aren’t achieving the ones we previously set that are still important for our journey. It is akin to someone always having meetings because they mistake activity for constructive work.
I certainly understand that when we get stuck at a certain point in business or we encounter a unique situation, we then go to what is comfortable and familiar. Often, setting new goals is easy to do. It only has great merit if we then go about achieving those goals.
So, how do we find a healthy balance between the goals we set and achieving them? Here are three behaviors to consider incorporating when dealing with goals.
1. Your goals need to reflect your values.
When we are operating at our best, then our values drive everything we do. Values are your non-negotiable beliefs that you incorporate into all aspects of your life. You can’t have one set of values for your “personal life” and one for your “professional life.” Things won’t go well, and you will be putting so much stress on yourself that something inside you is going to short-circuit.
By filtering your goals through your values, then you are going to have objectives that are very personal to you. You will be forcing yourself to concentrate on what the most important goals are. You will find that you should have fewer goals, but they are going to move you forward better to what you want to accomplish. Think about it. Would you rather have five to seven goals that mean a lot to you or 50 of them where a majority are more busywork than actually taking you to the ultimate destination in your professional life?
2. Figure out the level of effort you need for each goal.
All goals aren’t created equal. Some are more difficult than others, depending on your knowledge and ability. As much as we hate to admit, nobody is good at everything. For some of your goals, you might have to exercise more mindfulness in how you approach them. You might not have the skillset right now to achieve that goal; so, you might have to wait until you have the necessary skills or reach out for help from others with the expertise you are missing.
It takes honest self-awareness to understand how you approach a goal. For some, you have to take baby steps to achieve it rather than making a huge leap. It depends on you and the goals. You can evaluate past situations and what has worked in the past to determine if you can apply some lessons to your current aspirations. It’s okay if you need to acquire assistance. Remember, mindfulness is looking at a situation without judging the people involved. That also includes you! No judging or you will stop working on a goal and make a bunch more goals to fill up your day.
3. The best time to work on those essential personal goals is now.
Charles Dickens tells us in David Copperfield that “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”
Putting off things, like achieving your most crucial goals, is the number one problem that people face. It is human nature to put off doing something hard if we can get away with it. However, the reckoning is always somewhere in the future. What’s worse, that future is not always defined. You might have an excellent idea for an innovative product or service. You want everything perfect because you have a fear that if you don’t, it will be a disaster. While this gives you a “legitimate” reason to procrastinate, someone gets the same idea to market, and now you are left behind at the starting gate.
This happens so much, and it usually comes down to procrastination for one reason or another. Nike’s slogan of “Just Do It” was great. Some time management training emphasizes dealing with the significant issues first and getting them out of the way. You can quickly knock off 30 minor problems, and you feel like you accomplished something, but the big ones are still sitting there, weighing down your soul. Nothing is going to get better until you conquer them. The same philosophy applies to your goals.
Going back to the Dickens’ quote, we only have so much time. That is finite. Use it wisely because if you “major in the minors” and pay more attention to coming up with vast quantities of goals rather than work on what is vital, then you might run out of time!