Oi! Pay attention!
This post has been ‘archived’ because things have moved on quite a bit since I wrote it.
To read something a tad more current, click here
So, in three days it’ll be 2012. And for the fifth year running I’ll be setting myself personal goals.
A lot of my friends dislike the idea of setting personal goals, like it somehow takes the ‘private’ part of their life – the part that is supposed to be about relaxing and having fun – and turns it into ‘work’. And work, as we all know, is the mortal enemy of fun and relaxation.
Perhaps you feel the same way? I know I did. Having read and listened to more than my fair share of self help books I thought I knew all that I needed to know about Goal Setting – enough to know that it wouldn’t work for me. And as I sat in traffic on the M25, morning after morning, listening to those Tony Robbins CDs, I’d start to wonder whether I’d enjoy them more if I wound down the window and tossed them, Frisbee-like, over the edge of the bridge and into the River Thames far below me.
That was, until I went out for a curry with my old friend Denny.
“I’ve set myself 5 goals for next year,” she told me one winter’s night in January.
“Goals?” I said
“Yeah,” said Denny as she mopped up some sauce with a strip of naan bread. I was stunned.
“Because I’m fed up with my life being like it is.”
“But, setting yourself goals – it’s a little extreme though, isn’t it?” She shrugged.
“Not really,” she said.
“But what if you don’t achieve them?” I asked.
“Then life will stay pretty much as it is, I guess. From that perspective I can’t really lose.” I thought about this for a second or two.
“Maybe I should set some goals,” I said.
“Maybe you should,” said Denny. “What would they be?”
And that was five years ago.
I like to set my goals at the start of each year, and review them at the end. This might make them sound a little like ‘resolutions’ but resolutions are something entirely different. “I will give up smoking” – that’s a resolution. “I have given up smoking (December, 2012)” – now that’s a goal.
Take for instance one of my goals for 2010:
My Happiness Book is published
(Dec 31st 2010)
At the time I set that the Goal I’d hardly started writing How To Do Everything and Be Happy, let alone given much thought to how I would publish it. I didn’t even have the title.
Did I achieve the goal?
That’s the not so funny thing about setting goals – some of the time, perhaps even most of the time, you fail!
But then I’m not particularly motivated by ‘easy goals’ – goals that I know I have a good chance of achieving. They don’t even feel like goals – more like boring items on my to-do list. I had a friend who, on January 1st, set herself the goal of joining a gym. By the end of the first week she’d achieved it. Was that really a goal? Shouldn’t joining the gym have been part of a much larger goal to improve her health and fitness? In my mind a goal should stretch you. A goal should be ever-so-slightly out of reach. With most of my goals I know that my chances of success are extremely slim, though the chance is there.
So my revised Goal for 2011 looked like this:
“How To Do Everything and Be Happy”
is available in three formats,
and selling really well (to be defined),
whilst I bask in the success (to be defined)
of the seminar(s)
Dec 31st 2011
And will I achieve that Goal??
But I’ll come darn close. The book was released as an ebook back in March, and as a paperback a few weeks later. Both are selling better than I could have ever hoped. An audio version is planned for this coming year, and whilst I’m not exactly basking in the success of my one workshop, two more are being planned for the coming weeks.
Most important of all though, by identifying why I achieved or failed my goal I’m equipped to write smarter, more specific, or maybe utterly different goals.
Working with goals – that is, having them in your life – is something that gets easier the longer you do it. You develop a habit, or a mindset – after a while you start to look at everything you’re doing in relation to how it sits with your goals. In a very real way, your goals force you to decide what’s important to you and move you in that direction. They give you purpose and vision.
And it’s true what they say:
“Without vision the people perish.”
So, people of the interweb – what are your Goals for 2012. Drop me a line or use the comments box below – I’d love to hear from you.
Wishing you a very happy New Year
Originally written for Amwriting.org