Setting and achieving goals is probably one of the easiest and yet most difficult activities we engage in during our lives. We might set goals every day, yet sometimes when we look back, we realize that something happened, the goal slipped away from us.
One of the most common reasons for not reaching a goal, or not being fulfilled when we do reach a goal is that the goal was not OUR goal, it was someone else’s.
When we crate goals that we want to achieve, we should first ask ourselves if this is truly a goal that I want for myself or is it a goal that someone else wants for me? Will I be fulfilled and proud of the goal, or am I doing this to impress others around me? These are great questions to consider when we are setting goals for our own personal development.
When we set out to create and achieve goals that are based on our own passions, desires, and vision for our future, we can accomplish almost anything. If we set out to achieve a goal that is not our own, that is meant to impress other people, or based on what people around us tell we should do, our heart really is not in it and we have not created a goal – we have created a task.
Yeah, this “task” might provide us some benefit, it might result in some amount of success or achievement, but did it provide the benefit and success that we really wanted or could have obtained? In order to achieve the benefits and success that we want for ourselves, we must set goals that are our own.
Sometimes it can be tough to tell the people around us that we do not want to set a goal based on what they believe we should do. We want to believe that they have our best interests in mind, that they know something about us that we did not know about ourselves, that they want to see us achieve more than we thought possible. We really want to listen to them, but we don’t agree with or have the passion for what they tell us we should do, and this can create conflict.
Many years ago, I had to make some difficult choices about whether I should stay and work near my hometown or break away and try something new. I had opinions on both sides – some said to stay as it was a big scary world out there, and some told me to give it shot – what could it hurt? Some would share regrets they had for not exploring their world, while others would share stories of an uncle, cousin, or other relative who tried and failed. It was difficult for me to decide because no matter which decisions I made, I felt as though I would be ignoring the advice of people I had come to trust, that they would feel as though I did not value their opinion. It seemed to be a lose-lose situation.
The reality is that it is a win-win situation when we make a goal that is our goal, a goal that we are passionate about, and a goal that we will put our greatest efforts into. We win by accomplishing and creating a future that we want for ourselves. We win when we see our passions grow and help the people around us with products, services, or our gifts and talents. I made the decision to leave and see the world, and have learned, achieved, and succeeded more than I thought possible.
If we did not set and achieve our own goals, that would be a the true lose-lose as we would lose sight of what we really could be, and we lose the ability to serve those around us with our true talents. A Doctor that never wanted to be a Doctor, is not going to be the best Doctor now matter how hard they try.
One more challenge with making goals our own is when we find ourselves working on goals that are set by others in which we are to participate – such as business goals. These are goals that business leaders set to grow the business, achieve success in new markets, new verticals, or through new innovations. It is quite likely that we will not have much input on these goals, but that does not mean we cannot make them OUR goals. This is done by creating smaller sub-goals that we can own and that we can contribute to the higher-level goal.
A simple way to do this is to first identify what our contribution will be to achieve the business goal. If the goal is a sales goal and we are responsible for creating marketing materials, we should create a goal that we can own that supports the sales goal, but in terms of how we can bring our passion to it.
For example, a Leader may tell us that our goal should be increase the “eye-catching-pop” of the marketing material by 50% – what in the world does that mean? Unless you know exactly how to do that and would have made that goal for yourself without the Supervisor’s advice, that is not a goal that you will be successful at.
Rather, you should create a goal that you know you can achieve in your own terms, based on your own passions, and that will support the larger sales goal. Maybe that looks like “I will collect customer data and success stories for the services our customers value most by the end of Friday.” Then you add another goal that might be “I will update marketing materials to highlight our most popular services using stories of our client success by end of the month.” As long as this speaks to your passion and is something that you know you will succeed at, then you have adapted your contribution of the higher-level business goal into terms that you can be successful at.
Having ownership and accountability for our goals in important. It is also important that our goals are well written. Using a system such as SMART goals will help a great deal, and more can found here on how to create SMART goals and how the CLEAR Process™ can enhance your success in reaching your goals.
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