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.