Ep 20 – Why You Should Never Set Goals

Stop Setting Goals

If you have been in business for very long, then you most certainly have experienced the typical “next year, our goal is to do more!” Or, “this year, our goal will be $X million dollars in sales!” [A number seemingly pulled out of thin air, or worse…a number simply a percentage greater than last year’s total.]  This is precisely the reason you should never set goals.  Let me explain.

“More” is not a strategy!

There is no creativity in goal setting today.  Too often, what often gets construed as strategic planning, is not much more than wishful thinking.  In short, people are lazy.

insanity- Taking the same action over-and-over again, each time expecting a different result.

Unhappy with the fact that the company’s sales results were essentially flat for a number of years, a company president shared with me once that “he wanted more”.  Isn’t that exactly what conventional wisdom says a company president should say? In fact, it is exactly what that same company president had said in each of the previous five or six years…each time with the same result- roughly the same amount of sales as the year(s) before.  Are you surprised?

Activity Alleviates Anxiety

Filled with desire to achieve a new result, do you ever feel paralyzed & uncertain what to do?  Research indicates that learning occurs in four stages (Read:  Unconscious Competence- A Lesson From Sesame Street). To first learn a new skill, or achieve a new result, one must first take a new action to discover that you likely don’t know what you don’t know- and you need awareness to turn that newly discovered knowledge into action from which you can learn.  Once you took that first step, did the outcome bring you closer to or farther from your desired result?  Adjust. Try again.  It certainly beats the analysis paralysis which prevents so many people from experiencing a change in the outcome of their efforts.  Do something, even if it is wrong!

Where SHOULD You Focus?

target-2To achieve big results, you must have a vision.  To have a vision, you must allow yourself to detach from your past failures and engage with an image of what your new success looks or feels like.  Go ahead.  Get a vivid picture of success.  What would be different if you achieved success? How would it look? Feel? Smell?  What would people notice most about you?

Now, before you get overwhelmed with the natural feelings of “but I don’t know how to get there”, simply bask in that vision for a few minutes. Hey, take an hour!

Welcome back! Feels good, doesn’t it? Now, write down a list of new actions (short term) that would lead you closer to that vision becoming your reality.  Want a new job? Apply for a new one every day for a month. Want to lose those extra pounds you gained over the holidays…four years ago?  Decide to go for  a walk for 30 minutes every day.

Recent, widely-quoted research seems to suggest that mastery of a skill occurs once you have exercised that skill for 10,000 hours.  Becoming an “expert” is a  lofty goal. [For those counting at home that is spending 12 hours a day, every day, for 27 months; or by spending 30 minutes a day for nearly 55 years-if you have that kind of time.]  No matter your level of commitment each day, proficiency in any skill only comes from experience.  There are no shortcuts!

Focus on building new behaviors.  Experiment with new behaviors and identify the correlation with your vision. As you take more and more deliberate action in the correct direction, that vision will begin to come into focus.  Celebrate the small victories.  Track your progress toward the greater desired result.  Just don’t gauge how well you are doing with a pass/fail mentality.  Focus on moving yourself in the right direction.  The big, satisfying goal will just seem to “happen”.

ACTION:  Share a big goal publicly with others as a motivator to keep yourself accountable.  Take a minute and describe your big vision below.  Even if nobody reaches out to you to check your progress, YOU will remember it was posted here and the discomfort of complacency will encourage you to take action each day.

What are your thoughts on this?