So you say you made a resolution…

Keeping your goals from becoming a glorified to-do list.

This week we begin a new year (and a new decade) and if you are like most of the Western World you have begun making your New Year’s Resolutions. If you are a business owner and entrepreneur like nearly all of my clients and a good many of my friends you’ve also begun writing out your professional and business goals for 2010. And if you are like the “average” person you will have already “failed” to meet your goals or stick to your resolutions by the end of January 2010!

So why start?

I think it is more a question of where to start. Most people start with questions like “what do I most need to accomplish in 2010?” They may even begin with “what would I most like to make happen in 2010?” Very seldom does their goal setting process include connecting to an impelling “why.”

I’ve had clients apologize to me for having financial goals and I’ve had clients who refused to confess to having any goals that didn’t lead to financial success. And to them all I say “why?”

Yeah, why? What will change for you if you make that happen? Why do you care? Is your heart and soul engaged?

If you are in business I hope you are in business to make money. Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions and many more, was quoted as saying “I don’t want to do business with those who don’t make a profit, because they can’t give the best service.”

The character Ernesto, while demonstrating Law #1 in The Go-Giver says, “will it make money is not a bad question, it’s just a bad first question.” He goes on to explain to Joe that the best first question is “will it serve.”

So here is the vital question; “how will achieving your goals serve you?”

Again, “money” isn’t a bad answer. But it is a bad first answer. Because money, in and of itself doesn’t serve. No one wants money just to have money. You want money for what it will buy, for what it says about you, for the status, for the security, for the good you can do with it, for all kinds of practical and emotional reasons. Money alone doesn’t answer the question.

Why not try starting with the joy you will gain from achieving your objectives in 2010 and reverse engineer your goals? I can hear it now, “joy, you want me to start with joy?”

Yes I do. That kind of joy that sets your soul on fire and gives your heart wings. The outcomes that make you dance a jig and turn crazy cartwheels on the landscape of your mind. THAT k

ind of joy.

If you cannot think of ONE thing that you could do in 2010 that would have that effect you’ve already figured out why you don’t accomplish your goals. Or if you do it is a hard, hard road with more relief and pride than true celebration at the end of it.

Am I saying that your goals should not be financial? Absolutely not! There are no “wrong” goals or “wrong” resolutions – only “wrong” reasons. What is a wrong reason? One that you have no emotional connection to – one that does not light your fire.

What would happen if you started your goal setting or resolutions by asking yourself this question? “This time next year what accomplishment(s) do I want to look back on with tears of joy and a full heart and say – I did THAT?

Grab hold of that feeling and don’t let go. Then start asking “what has to happen in order to reach that moment, who do I need to involve, what resources will I need, what must I do FIRST?”

Those are goals you are emotionally attached to, outcomes that light you up inside. And likely they will require that you make money, and they may even make you a lot of money. But the emotion isn’t about the money, the money is just a resource and a natural outcome.

So you say, “what about S.M.A.R.T goals?” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely for those of you who haven’t been dipped in the magic well of Organizational Development.)

Stuff and nonsense (I HEARD those gasps of horror from my colleagues) AT THIS POINT. It’s too soon to think about being reasonable. I don’t want to hear about realistic and achievable. I don’t want to hear about “should” and “can’t” (although I’ll be talking about both of those brick walls in future posts.) Right now we’re still dreaming of the “impossible” and figuring out how to bring it within reach.

I have clients who are used to keeping five year business plans. And I have clients who never write a business plan. Either way, we don’t focus on the plan until we find the joy, the fire, the light they WANT to move toward. Only then are we are ready to write goals, plans, resolutions, create roadmaps.

Because when your “why” is clear then everything you write becomes an “I want to so I will” instead of “I should so I better put it on the list” and your goals become a sanctified “can-do” list instead of a glorified “must-do” list.

5 thoughts on “So you say you made a resolution…”

  1. Excellent article Dixie! I would have to agree with you; without the why the what wont follow. I have a handful of ambitious goals that I'd like to achieve before age 25 and I've been on the path to achieve them since I left the Extreme Business Makeover. The first goal is to impact the lives of 1mill people by teaching them how to yo-yo. The second goal is to have my own Yo-Yo manufactured. The third is to make myself wealthy in the process so I can do more crazy things but with a little less boot strapping :).

    I'd like to know what drives you? A lot of mentors and coaches I know/have say they love helping people, but some of them niche it out a bit; Brad for instance likes helping kids on their entrepreneurial path to get specific. I think I'm still working on my why, but once my brain clicks it into place the world better watch out 🙂

  2. Wonderful post! Applies very broadly to all kinds of goals.

    I was exposed to a lot of television this weekend. I am not used to it and am loathe to even mention it, but God speaks through unpalatable voices at times. I heard this same idea in a different context. I know it is just a slogan, (I hope I don't owe anyone a royalty) but the Weight Watchers commercial gives advice very similar to this: "Stop dieting. Start living."

    "Will I lose weight?" is not a bad question. But far too narrow a first question. It is not a question that addresses the whole person and does not consider how integral eating is to living. A better question is "How does eating serve my being?" No doubt that discipline and measurable goals will be part of that effort. But it is a motivation from within, serving genuine needs, and the outer evidence–wellness–will manifest itself.

  3. Dixie, brilliant post (as always) my friend. You brought up some great points and I found myself reading several of them over and over again in order to really take them in. I'm also very impressed with Mike's comments (this guy is on his way to some great things) and Honeysucklerose's, as well.
    Congratulations, Dixie…you're an amazing teacher!

  4. Mike – LOVE your goals and love that they are ambitious and driven by a timeline. and I have no doubt that you WILL achieve them. But I wonder if you have ever written out how it makes YOU feel to see people "getting it" – just working that yoyo and having a blast. How does that impact YOU?

    I have a theory that everyone loves helping people. Even the old curmudgeons who would hate to have the world know that they love it. But my question is "what do you help people DO?" And take that a few levels deeper than "I help people master the yoyo." What does THAT help them do and why does it matter to YOU?

    As for me – here is a video that might give you better idea about me But it comes down to this – I help people make connections. That might be internally to their own fire – the dreams, visions, talents, etc… that make THEM powerful, it might be to their target market and potential partners and it might just be to their world in general. But it's all about making connections happen. (but I bet you already knew that about me – right?)

  5. Bob – thank you so much for your comments AND for your inspiration. You know our conversations fuel a lot of my material and this was no exception.

    And Honeysucklerose… I'll keep your identity between us as you wish, but you know you are a constance source of inspiration and a challenge to my thinking and your comment here is dead on. "How does it serve my being?" Fantastic question to ask of every choice we make! Thanks!

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