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Choosing the Right Goals This Year

The month of January is named after the Greek god, Janus, who had two heads: one that faced backwards and one that looked forward. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The beginning of our year is always an excellent time to reflect on the past year and set goals to hit in the upcoming year. But, sometimes I meet people who say they aren’t good at setting or reaching goals. The task seems daunting and almost always reinforces their inability to stay on track. It is for those people, I offer this Q and A.

Is it important to set goals?

Yes, I do believe goal setting is important. Without a target, it’s difficult to be intentional about growth. Goals, however, should be a “guide” not a “god.”

For many, the primary difference between work and sports is: goals. In sports, there’s no question about it. Every basketball court has a rim. Every football field has an end zone. Too many U.S. employees go to work having little idea what “winning” looks like. Even for those people who enjoy the journey as much as the destination, I still think we all need a type of GPS in life to keep us on the right path.

Outside of “measurable” and “tangible,” what describes a good goal?

1. Big – They have to engage us at the imagination level.
2. Relevant – Something we want or need to achieve now.
3. Suitable – They have to fit our strengths and passions.
4. Meaningful – Most want to do something very important & almost impossible.

What do you consider to be a great goal?

We must all answer the question: Are we into the destination or just the trip? Some people are into goals and some are just into the journey along the way. In reality, both are important, but choosing the right destination for yourself makes a world of difference in whether you will enjoy the daily grind. Roads can have potholes, curves, rocks and traffic jams. If you’re looking forward to your destination, all those hardships are worth it. We must have a “great goal” that fits who we are.

What’s the difference between a standard and a goal?

Sometimes we need measurable goals, which are objectives that have an end. Once we reach them, the target has been hit. Standards are sustained goals. They are lifestyle aspirations—ones for which we want to live by consistently, without ending.

What are some of your goals and standards for this year?

Each year, I create a list of both goals and standards. My goals are both personal and professional, and my standards are a “bar” I raise for myself as an ongoing way of life. Here are a few of my goals and standards:

A Few of my 2018 Goals

  • Write and publish Habitudes for Life Giving Leaders.
  • Invest in my team weekly and create a personal growth plan for everyone.
  • Read 24 books this year on six categories in which I want to grow.
  • Release two e-books on reducing student anxiety and raising student ethics.

A Few of my Health Standards

  • Weekly workouts to strengthen my abs, arms and heart.
  • Keep blood sugars above 60 and below 140. (I am a type one diabetic.)
  • Two diet soft drink limit each week; drink three bottled waters each day.

A Few of my Family Standards

  • Date my wife once a week.
  • Date with my adult children each month.
  • Family calendar discussion each Sunday.

A Few of my Relationship Standards

  • Meet with my six mentors on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Meet one new neighbor in my subdivision and cultivate a friendship.
  • Enjoy coffee with my three closest friends each month.

What makes goals actually work?

One last tip. To list the actions we want to take is actually more transformational than listing the targets we want to hit. Both are important, but many set New Year’s Resolutions and drop them by March.

Each team member at Growing Leaders chooses 3 “big rocks” to measure each week and a dashboard of issues we prioritize (some as a team and some as individuals) that we’ll measure quarterly. We believe the right actions naturally enable us to reach our goals. In short, actions speak louder than goals.

Once you choose a destination, commit to it. Sure—it may change along the way, but the only way you’ll know if a goal is right is to sink your teeth into it and really give it your all. The Scottish mountaineer W. H. Murray wrote, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way….Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”


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