The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.Bill Copeland
You have to set yourself up right if you want the right goals in life. When I have clients who come to see me after a period of seeing a life coach, they always inevitably say in one form or another, “I checked off all the boxes, what’s the deal?”
And the way I like to describe it is this: you can lean a really long ladder against a very tall wall, but after some time and effort of climbing it, you’ll get to the top. And when you’re at the top and notice that you’ve climbed the wrong wall, you’ll have to come all the way back down only to have to repeat that process.
So if you want to set goals that are right for you, you need: 1. the right framework, and 2. the right conditions.
Let’s start with the framework; we’ve all heard of setting SMART goals. However, if you want to set the right goals, it doesn’t cut it. You need the following.
Example: Get stronger in 2020.
S(pecific): What does stronger look like to you? Are we talking physical strength, or mental stamina? A more specific goal looks like: Be able to bench press at least 150 lbs, 12 reps, 3 sets.
M(easurable): Is the goal measurable? A sure way to see if it’s measurable is to see if your friend Josephine can tell whether you’ve met the goal. The way we specified your goal in Specificity makes it easy to measure by an outside observer. However, if you have a goal that is ambiguous (e.g., have mental stamina), then it becomes almost impossible to measure in agreement because your definition (mental stamina) might differ from mine.
A(ttainable): The question to ask yourself to see if the goal is attainable, is: can I do this? do I have the resources? If I lived in a far-removed area where I didn’t have access to a bench or weights, this wouldn’t be an attainable goal.
R(ealistic): In the past, I was taught to see the R in this framework as, “have others done it before?” Now, I know better. Ask yourself instead, “do I believe this can be done?” Just because someone before you wasn’t able to figure it out, doesn’t mean you’re in the same boat.
T(ime-bound): Is your goal time bound? The number one reason why we fail to meet our goals is because we don’t set a deadline. When do you want to meet this goal by? Be able to bench press at least 150 lbs (12 reps, 3 sets) by March 1, 2020.
Y(our why): You know how they say emotion is simply energy in motion? Emotions are what put things into motion. It’s the fuel for which anything in this plane and dimension gets created. What is your reason for setting and meeting this goal? What’s at stake if you don’t meet this goal? For example, maybe your reason for meeting this goal is because you want to prove to yourself that you can have the discipline to get stronger. Why? If you can prove to yourself that you have the discipline to do this, you’d believe that you have the discipline to create your own business. Why?… you get the picture. Ask the why 7 times and you’ll know what’s at stake.
+(is it challenging enough?) Sometimes, we set goals that aren’t challenging enough. If you’re already benching 145 lbs with ease, setting the goal to bench 150 in three months will bore you. If you’ve never stepped into a gym and weight 100 lbs, setting a goal to do that in the next three months might be too challenging. Think in terms of Goldilocks and the three bears; it’s got to be just right.
Remember when I set you not only need the right framework but you also need the right conditions?
Condition 1: The desert does not lie. It is said that when it was time to find a vision, great minds wandered the desert to experience enlightenment and epiphanies. We see this story everywhere, from the Bible to ancient cultural hand-me-down stories. If you want to set goals in life, to have a vision for your life that lives aligned in your purpose, seek the desert. There is truth in solitude. Find a sacred space and carve out time to be by yourself. You can’t find your truth if you can’t separate yourself from others’ opinions.
Condition 2: Reflections do not lie. When it comes time to set goals, we make an effort to reflect on how far we’ve come, and what’s working (vs. not working). When you sit down to reflect, remember that reflection is not done for the sake of reminiscing about life, but in order to create alchemy. The true power of reflection comes in two forms: guidance and direction. Understand what works, who you are; but also understand your direction.
Live with intention. Inspire with love.