There is a flaw in goal setting that never gets enough attention. The flaw is you. You might set a goal that is not your goal. If you are decent at drawing and everyone tells you that you should become an artist, when in fact you are awesome at design and drawing is a tool for you not a passion. Or you go to the gym and everything is geared towards bodybuilders and everyone getting ripped and going beast mode. You give in to the gym culture and buy some protein powder and creatine and give your life over to the gym. When what you really wanted to do was cut body fat, and not have a pouch hanging over the front of your jeans. Or you start a job with a good company and it’s not your dream, but somehow it takes over your life and suddenly your goals are to move up the ladder; when what you really wanted to do was have a steady income so you could perform on stage for local theaters.
It happens before we know it. We get focused on being alive or what is in front of us instead of what we truly want. We get caught up in our small subcultures and miss opportunities and our chance to go for our real goals. Over time we might even forget what it is we wanted to accomplish. I do believe that is why a lot of books point back to what you wanted to do as a kid. They point to what you were good at. They ask about a time you might have had more clarity or the inclination to do something that was all you.
The problem with looking backward is your not a kid and what might have been a great start is now a too late start. Momentum is a thing and most people build it when they are young. Right out of high school they start to define their life and their ability to make a living. They ingrain their survival skills and do what they know how to do. The beauty is we are not most people. Yes, we are the problem when it comes to our goals. We are also the opportunity. It is okay that we got sidetracked. It is okay that we got caught up with the crowd. It’s okay that we followed some poor advice. And our late start means we we need to act with focus.
Accomplishing goals don’t define who we are. They are meant to be guide posts for us so we don’t feel lost or stuck or living someone else’s life. We need to be serious about our goals and where we are headed. Not because we are determined to be super productive. No, we want to make sure we are living life on our terms or at the least moving toward a life on our terms. Goal setting for us isn’t looking back or at what others are doing; it is looking forward to what we want to do or create.
So, today get out a notebook and write down two things you want to do. Make them easy. Actually, make them so easy that you could get them done over the weekend. Once they are done do it again. Two easy goals. Now, set one big goal that can only be accomplished with a habit. For instance, running a marathon or painting in oils. They take time and the building up of skill and stamina. Look into the future and decide what kind of work you want to do. If you can’t see it you looked too far. Look into the future about two years. If you can’t see the work you want to do, think about what industry you want to work in. Then set a goal to take a few online courses to get there. I imagine in two years you could have a great restart in almost any industry. Here is the thing you will be the flaw in your goal if you don’t fuel it with the desire to achieve it. You actually have to want what is in front of you. So get moving, mountains don’t climb themselves.