Goal setting sounds like one of the most productive methods to achieve success these days. This topic reminded me of a speech I gave three weeks ago. I was invited to share my story to a group of philanthropists, business leaders, students and faculty of a local high school. As I sat down to eat my lunch, I noticed that I was to speak at the very end of the event. This seemed to create a high level of anxiety and adrenaline. As I approached the podium, my heart was racing much faster than it usually does when giving a speech and I noticed a bit of a shake in my hands.
Reflecting back on this event, I realized that I had a goal that was unrealistic or frankly a bit crazy. My goal was to speak in such a way as to not let anyone down and thusly make sure I was liked. When I was called about giving this speech, this goal or end result was not stated. In fact, they just asked me to share my story and keep in short. Throughout my preparation, I recounted this goal. However, when I entered the building that day a new goal emerged.
My point in this story is that your goals need to be realistic, focused on the process.
Here are a few suggestions for you as you set goals for yourself:
1.) Reasonable: A goal exists to give you a trajectory and if achieved a sense of accomplishment. If your goal is not reasonable, it can create emotional distress when you are seeking to push a large rock up a very steep hill.
2.) Focused On Progress: As with any goal, are you able to measure some progress toward the goal? In other words, if your goal is to make everyone happy, how will you know that you have achieved that goal? This goal feels a bit like plugging a leak with your bare hands. You might experience some initial success and in the end be very frustrated.
3.) Trusting Of Process: Process is about allowing yourself and others to evolve, grow and change. We are an outcomes based society and when we see AN outcome we think it is THE FINAL outcome. In actuality, you may see a result after a speech, presentation or conversation that feels final, when in actuality it is merely one step in the overall process. Take the example of my speech above, yes the speech concluded but my learnings as a results of the speech were countless and may even be used to help someone later.
Think about that conversation you had with your boss last week. It may not have reached a conclusion you are satisfied with, BUT a relationship is built on conversations over time. Why not trust the process and have another conversation, improving on the last one.
My speech ended up just fine. It did however create some internal emotional distress because my goals were not Reasonable, Focused on Progress and Trusting of My Process. What about your goals?