Sometimes we lose track of our goals, for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that our goals are set too far out. They are out of our immediate grasp and we don’t understand how to continuously work towards a goal, 1 year, 2 years, or even 5 years out. We lose track of our goals until time starts closing in on us and a crunch setting occurs. We try to crunch as much work into our routines as possible. This is true in both a business setting and a personal setting and I believe it can be remediated.
I started the idea of this article based around what used to happen to me in a corporate setting. Each year, we would sit down with our boss. We would assess what happened in the previous year and we would create new goals for the next year. The failure to this approach is that we didn’t have the immediate need to concentrate on this goal because interim milestones were not created. It was left to be worried about in the last months and weeks of the year, as our next career session would take place.
Researching this idea, I read a book that helped me understand how to make meaningful goals and how to better achieve them. The remainder of my discussion circles around the author's thoughts and viewpoints. I would highly recommend picking up this book. The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months
In athletics, we have periodization schedules. This is where the year is broken up into training blocks each with their own designated purpose to build the athlete in different ways to ultimately reach a goal, sometimes a year or further out. As human beings with vulnerabilities and emotions, we strive for the feelings of success and if we do not feel enough success, we position ourselves for burnout and withdrawal of the things we once loved. Periodization places the athlete in week and month time blocks each with their own purpose and goals and each one building upon each other.
As a result, when I sit down to think about goal setting, I look at the multiple levels of the goals. First, the long-term is the aspirational of 3 to 5 years out. This goal is hard to see and can sometimes feel scary or intimidating because we don’t understand a clear path. The next level is the near-term of 12 to 36 months, which we are able to better visualize ourselves accomplishing because the path is shorter and easier to see. Goals in the near-term indirectly advance us towards our long-term goals. Lastly, the short-term goal of 12 months or less, sometimes even as short as 3 months. These goals are very specific in nature and are very clear as to the path we must do to achieve. Short-term goals, feed indirectly to our near-term goals, and advance us towards the progress of our long-term goals. It’s wonderful to have long-term goals, yet without short term goals that propel us forward, our long-term goals will merely remain aspirations.
To set a short-term goal, we need to assess what matters most to us. What do we want in our lives? Do we want to lose 10 lbs? Do we want to win our age group at a meet? Do we want to hit our sales margins this quarter or year? Do we want to climb the highest mountain ranges in the world? Whatever the goal, we need to have a strong desire for it. A strong desire for the outcome of the goal will make a big difference on whether the goal is successful. When we have a strong desire for outcome, we are willing to identify key tactics and actions it will take to achieve the goal. After identifying the actions it will take to achieve the goal, we must make sure that we are willing to pay the costs. For example, am I willing to disregard the donut in order to reach my 10 lb goal? Am I willing to wake up at 5am to workout and train in order to win my age group? Am I willing to sacrifice the extra time away from family and friends it will take to boost my sales? If the answer is, no, then you merely have an interest in a goal, not a commitment to the goal. A reassessment must take place, but be flexible enough to re-shift your focus and find one better suited.
Make sure that you don’t over commit yourself to goals. One or two goals, short term goals, at a time is better for our well-being and will help prevent burnout and loss of sight. If we over commit, we run the risk of losing integrity within ourselves and this should never be the outcome. So, deciding whether or not the goal you are making for yourself is the right one will be the understanding of whether or not you are emotionally connected and excited by it, combined with the willingness to accept the costs associated in achieving that goal.
We all go through temporary loss in motivation. Typically, we label this loss of motivation as a bad day or week. How do we know if this is a situation where we are truly invested in our goals or not? It comes down to the idea that that we made the decision on the front end of the goal setting. We understood that there would be sacrifices made, we understood that there would be days where it would not come easy. We know and understand that roadblocks and hurdles occur and will happen because anything worthwhile in life, is not handed to us. As long as we are willing to understand that we have an overall commitment to our goal and we take frequent and consistent actions towards it, the temporary loss in motivation will be just that, temporary. Allow yourself the feeling of setback and allow yourself the compassion, but then strive to pick back up and connect back in.
To sum up my thoughts:
- Make short term goals that progress you towards your long-term aspirations.
- Have an emotional connection to your goal and make it compelling.
- Identify key actions and tactics that need to occur to reach your goals.
- Understand the sacrifices it may take to reach those goals.
- Accelerate your success by taking those actions frequently and consistently.
- Accept temporary setback and motivational dips, but dust yourself off and pick it back up.