In my line of work as an accountability partner it’s my job to call out BS and to help align what people say they want with what they do. I hope I’m wrong, but let’s see if I’m right in thinking your goal sucks. Maybe you’ll make it suck less or I could be completely wrong, maybe what you’re working on is magnificent. Let’s find out.
- Pull your goal out and look at it. You do have it written down, right? 70% of the people you know don’t write their goals down. Guess what? They don’t even have goals to suck and that’s worse. If you’re in that group you have two choices. Stop being offended by the title of this article because you just lost your credibility or grab something to write with and jot down your goal.
- Maybe you did write your goal down once, but you misplaced it. Well, that’s better, I guess. One in five people do that, so you’re not alone. But writing a goal down once and losing it or forgetting about it isn’t exactly stellar performance. Let’s move on.
- Are you still with me? 10% of people write their goals down and look at them every day. Now we’re getting somewhere. This is a good group to be in. If you’re in this group your goal may still suck, but at least you have something to work with. Candidly, even if you’re in with this elite group of people, your goal probably does suck. Let’s dig deeper.
- It’s probably not your goal. Think hard on this. Is this a goal that you came up with on your own or was it suggested, perhaps demanded, by a boss, a spouse, a parent? If it was, it’s not really your goal. You need to create a goal that’s yours.
- It’s probably vague. “I want to lose weight, make more money, fall in love, go to college, buy a car, buy a house, start a new business,” blah, blah, blah. You and millions, yes millions, of other people want these things. Sure, the ambition is great, but not in this diluted, cliche form. You don’t want to lose weight, you want to fit into a specific pair of jeans. You don’t want to go to just any college, you have one in mind, with a concentration on a specific major. You have intrinsic criteria for your goals so make sure you write them into your goals. Vague goals get vague results.
- Your goal’s not very exciting, is it? When you read it do you want to drop what you’re doing and go work on it? If it doesn’t create that level of excitement, why are you bothering with it? Because you should or have too? That sounds like an obligation, not a goal. That sucks.
- You can’t measure it. Truthfully, you probably can, but you don’t have any instrument in place to measure it correctly. Everything’s measurable but make sure it makes sense. Most people don’t care how much a football field weighs, but the proper length of one is crucial.
- Your goal might be unattainable. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but a lot of people write their goals like letters to Santa. They want to be a millionaire instantly. They want to be talented in something for which they’ve spent no time studying or practicing. They want something that is beyond their sphere of influence, like having fewer home games rained out or setting a desirable stock price. If your goal is unattainable, it’s gonna suck for you.
- Your goal isn’t relevant to anything else you’re doing. Sometimes people create some wild goals that have nothing to do with their values, personal mission, or anything else in their life. New is great, but irrelevance is a distraction.
- You don’t have a deadline. People get confused between wishes and goals. A goal has a realistic deadline. Sometimes you’ll find you need a longer timeframe, or a smaller goal. I’m not a fan of small goals, but creating small tasks that support your bigger goal is a great way to build consistent action to get you where you need to go.
- You have too many goals. In the beginning we talked about those who don’t have any goals. More frustrating than that is having too many goals. This splits your concentration. It doesn’t mean you should put your life on hold, but you need to prioritize your list. Narrow it down to the top three and have one great goal. Ideally, the achievement of each of these goals helps you along in achieving the others. They’ll either aid in their accomplishment or make them irrelevant.
- You’re not changing your behavior. If your goal isn’t forcing you to modify or change your behavior you’re probably not going to achieve it. If you could do it without changing something, you would have already achieved it and all this would be moot. A goal should stretch your capabilities, excite you and make you use parts of your brain or body that you’ve not been using.
- You don’t have any celebration planned. Goals need a motive. With all the changes in behavior and exertion of effort it takes to achieve the big goals in your life, you need to cap them off with a celebration. For many people, the achievement of the goal is celebration enough. It’s not. You need to celebrate the little milestones along the way. You don’t have to organize a parade, but maybe you can indulge in a box of chocolates, a dinner out, a day off, whatever feels like a reward for yourself along the way. Make it small enough to not throw you off track but big enough to feel excited and justified in the progress you’re making.
If you are still happy with your goal, good for you. I’m excited about the success you’re experiencing and would love to hear about your goal and learn how you achieved it. If you saw some things you need to tweak with your goal to make it stronger, do that, now. Otherwise you probably won’t and that really would suck.