Why bother with goals?

Why bother with goals? Because when you just schlumph along doing the same old, same old, you don’t get any better and, unless your life is already perfect, you aren’t building the life, the team, or the business you want. That just grinds you into a rut and as the novelist Ellen Glasgow said, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions.

When you set a goal, either a personal goal or a team goal, ‘the universe conspires to make it happen’ (the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said that). You can add power to your goal by writing it down–research shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to achieve them that people who just think about what they’d like to achieve.

Write your goal in clear words and put it where you (and the team, when it’s a team goal) will see it often. The more you see it, the more that goal imbeds itself into your subconscious, which makes it a lot easier for the universe to conspire to help you make it happen. It also means when you have a lot on your plate, you won’t lose sight of your goal.

And remember to make that goal a stretch goal–not so easy you won’t bother and not so hard you give up before you begin. Here are some other tips for writing goals:

  • Make sure you have the background information and knowledge you need to achieve it. When you don’t, go and get it.
  • Break down big goals into smaller steps. Someone once emailed me asking for advice on how to become a film producer. Well first, (unless he’s got great connections, in which case he wouldn’t have been asking for my advice!) he’ll probably need to take some courses in art, cinema, and theatre and in production. Then he’ll need to get a job in the film industry, no doubt at a lower level than producer! He’ll probably need to start hanging around people in the film industry, too, and start behaving and thinking like they do and listening to them and absorbing their knowledge and experience. Action steps like those turn a wish into a goal.
  • Be willing to pay the price in time and effort to achieve your goal. But first, you need to commit to making some changes in order to achieve that goal. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, ‘First say to yourself what you would be. Then do what you have to do.’
  • Know why you want to achieve that goal. That will keep you going when the going gets tough.

(When you’re writing a personal goal, you may want to check out my blog on keeping your personal goals to yourself.)

Discussion questions

Do you and your team have realistic, clear goals? Is the purpose behind those goals clear? Are you doing what’s needed to achieve them?