GOALS! That word we hear so often that if we actually hear it again we will explode!
but wait…. Here’s something you’ve never heard
STOP making long term goals! They may be hindering your success.
Let’s think about goals. You know, that dreaded G word every mentor, manager and motivational speaker had made you write down and insists that doing this is the greatest thing attributed to your success next to actual work itself. We have been told over and over again that we need to set our goals for the next year, five years, ten and even twenty years. Why? Because without them you will never achieve or accomplish anything. We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan and that’s why we fail. After all you can’t reach any destination without a well thought out road map. We’ve all heard it all, right? Well I’m here to say it’s all wrong! Well, not all of it but here’s something to think about.
Statistically speaking almost every worker in America has at one time or another had to write out a goal sheet. And although many actually achieve their immediate (short term) goals most never achieve the goals set longer than 6 months to a year let alone the ones set 3 to 5 years ahead. Even more interesting is that many actually achieved greater growth then they had originally thought but in completely different ways and areas. Wonder why that is?
I remember the first time I have ever heard anything about goals was when I was 18 and I was asked to write down a goal that I wanted to achieve during the next twenty years of my life. I had not even been alive twenty years; let alone knowing what I wanted in my life twenty years from now. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know was possible for my future. 10 years might as well have been an eternity let alone 20.
What I could imagine was the next year and even the next 5 years. And to be honest the only reason I was able to see five years was because I was about to enter college and I at least knew what the next 4 was going to hold. Interesting thing is that every one of my goals changed multiple times over the next five years because new opportunities came across my path that altered what I had originally thought was a good direction. I’d be willing to bet you could say the same thing, right? The only goal that did came to pass was getting that degree. And even that was not in the discipline I had originally started with.
…every one of my goals changed multiple times over the next five years because new opportunities came across my path that altered what I had originally thought was a good direction…
Now don’t get me wrong. I absolutely believe that having a destination in mind before you set out on a journey is a wise thing. Otherwise you end up just wondering in circles hoping tomorrow will somehow miraculously be different than today. I once heard it said that if you have no direction in your life then wherever you are right now is exactly where you planned to be, and I believe that to be so. We do need to have a real vision of what it is we want and a general game plan on getting there. I say general because no plan is perfect and if too strict it could seriously limit your vision for greater opportunity. Let me say that again. If your plans are too strict they could seriously limit your vision for greater opportunities!
Think about it this way. Do you think Bill Gates had any vision or goal or the tiniest thought about Microsoft’s Operating Systems (Windows) let alone Windows Phone, Microsoft Office, Skype, Outlook, Bing, Xbox or any of the many other divisions of Microsoft when he was first developing MS DOS in hopes to sell it to IBM? Think about that for a moment. If he had set his long term goals based upon what he could imagine at that time way back then and stuck to that game plan, he may have still become successful but certainly not to the level he ultimately achieved. The fact is he didn’t set his focus on achieving long term goals but he did strive to achieve short term goals that he could imagine and envision. And as he moved closer to achieving those progressively greater goals, new and exciting opportunities came to light. Opportunities he had not previously imagined. And even though they seemed out of reach, he had the confidence from the previous successes that he could achieve them even though many did not share in the confidence or the vision. Success in your life as with Microsoft is built on the back of a succession of short term goals.
As the achieving of short term goals progresses, new and previously un-imagined opportunities present themselves allowing new bolder visions to be imagined and greater new short term goals to be set and achieved.
In the end, like with Bill Gates and Microsoft, it will result a lifetime of achievement that had not even been dreamed of or imagined so many years earlier.
Goals are of key importance in the success of anyone but if used poorly, they can cause the death of a dream. Find greater success by following these simple rules about goals.
Set goals that are immediately achievable – Set goals you can reach today, this week or this month. Achieving a set goal will increase your desire to achieve again. Success breeds success. The more you succeed the more tenacious you will be when tough hurdles get in your way. You will build stamina and wisdom and confidence to take on bigger, longer and greater challenges than you ever imagined you could.
STOP setting LONG TERM goals! – Never set a goal for so far away that it always feels like a fantasy. Goals are meant to feel attainable in order for us to believe we can achieve them. When goals are set too far in advance we never feel connected to them and will eventually lose sight of our drive to achieve them. I challenge you to find a successful person that is today precisely where they planned to be 20 years ago.
Set the next goal to be more challenging than the next. – If you’re not moving progressively forward and taking on greater challenges then you will become stagnant and unmotivated. These goals may take longer and be more difficult to achieve but they should still be goals you can set to a time frame you can envision and feel that you are progressing forward on achieving.
Don’t get GOAL TUNNEL vision – Maintain flexibility in you’re the pursuit of your goals. Even if you set shorter term goals to reach these longer term goals be careful not to limit your vision for opportunities that may arise to achieve something greater than you ever imagined, even if it seems like this new direction is “off course” of your original goal. Keep an open mind and be flexible enough to see the possibilities.
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