Setting Goals That Don’t Suck

Before we can tell our time where to go, we have to develop a firm sense of how we want to spend it.  That’s where goals come in.  I think of goals as the roadmap to productivity.  In order to reach a desired destination (the goal), we have to develop methods to reach that destination, and implement check points along the way: for progress, motivation, and course correction.  The process starts by defining the destination.  Where do we want to end up?

“You need to consciously decide what you want, because knowing what you want determines what you will get.  Before something happens in the external world, it must first happen in the internal world.”Tony Robbins

In my research and (more importantly) experience, I’ve learned that there is such a thing as a “bad” goal.  When done right, goals are inspirational, motivational, and actionable.  But it’s not hard for a well-intentioned goal setter to develop goals that essentially set us up for failure (ask me how I know).  “Bad” goals are poorly structured, boring, vague, not motivating, delusional, or some combination of the above.

One of the most important factors of goal setting is one that I really struggled with initially: the best goals require imagination.  When it comes to the goal setting process, comfort is not typically an ally.  Comfort discourages imagination.

When I thought about my goals initially, it was difficult to envision myself in a place much different than the space I currently occupied.  I was content; proud of who I am and what I’d accomplished.  It felt selfish and illogical to ask for much more.  As a result, I sort of pigeon-holed myself: “This is what I do.  This is who I am.”  In reality, we’re all a work in progress.  And those are limiting beliefs.  True happiness comes from growth, and the minute we stop growing, we start shrinking.  So I had to really push – really use imagination and think: This is where I am today, and it’s great.  Yet I have the potential to be more.  Admittedly, this can be an intimidating thought.  Growing means stepping outside our current comfort zones.  That can be scary, even painful, because it alters our self-perception as an expert or master of our own little domain.  When I step out I’m quickly ambushed by how much I don’t know.

“Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth…  The man who believes he knows everything learns nothing.” – Mark Manson

I have the potential to be more.  That potential is there.  For me, for you, for our children.  It’s there, although it’s often hard to see in our current comfort.  That potential is what we can’t allow society to rob us of, because we all have it.  Don’t allow limiting beliefs or societal norms to convince you otherwise.  Imagine yourself at your highest potential.  Who do you want to be: for yourself?  For your spouse?  For your children?  For your parents?  For your friends?  For your co-workers?  For your employer?  For your employees?  Step outside your current bubble, no matter how content that bubble has become, and IMAGINE the possibilities.

In addition to being imaginative, positive goals are also measurable and come with a deadline (or a schedule).  From my own example, a goal of “be more present with my wife and children” is a shitty goal.  I mean, it’s a fine concept, but it’s neither measurable nor scheduled.  Goal 2.0: “Schedule a date night every other week for the next year.  Leave the phones in the car.  Hire a sitter this week.”  Or, “Take Gary to school every other morning throughout the school year.  Develop and introduce intentional conversations to have in the car each morning.”  Notice these goals have a schedule built in; and they’re measurable.  Once I set the goal and practice it, the next step is to implement some sort of follow up.  Two months in, have I been able to stick to the schedule?  Why/why not?  Is it making a difference in my life?  How do I feel?  Do I need to reassess or restructure this goal?

The ultimate question we each need to answer when developing our own personal goals is simply: What’s important to ME?  Seems simple.  For most of us (myself included), that can be a difficult question to answer accurately.  If you can answer that question directly and succinctly, congratulations: you’re ahead of me at this stage.  If this goes a bit deeper than your typical thought process, this simple, free test may help.  It was developed by Michael Hyatt; I found it at the beginning of his book titled Your Best Year Ever.  It’s called the Life Score Assessment.

Hyatt states that real life is multi-faceted, and the test calculates individual aptitude (and personal happiness) in 10 specific domains: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, and financial.  In his book, Your Best Year Ever, Hyatt recommends focusing goals in the areas where you currently have the lowest scores.

For my own purposes, I simplified it a little bit.  I break my life, and consequently my goals, into four main categories.

  • The person that I want to be individually
  • The husband/father/son that I want to be for my family
  • The friend that I want to be for those I care about
  • The businessman that I want to conduct myself as

Notice the order in which I listed these.  For me, I fight very hard to keep my goals and pursuits in this order: personal, family, friends, business.  That’s not necessarily the right order for you.  Heck, it hasn’t always been (and won’t always be) the right order for me!  We go through seasons in life.  Within a specific season, certain roles take more priority than others.  This is where I strive to be right now; and while it’s not always easy to prioritize the important, putting my goals and dreams in this order provides the perspective to help me do so.  My challenge to you: think through what’s most important in your life and work to prioritize your goals, and ultimately your time accordingly.

OK, so to this point, we have discussed:

Next up in the Beyond Racing series, I’ll detail my own goal setting process with some actionable steps and challenges that you can take yourself.  Plus, I’ll elaborate on our FREE printable Goals Checklist that I shared a couple days ago.



Leave a Reply