Achieving Your Goals

Achieving Your Goals (Video)

There is so much that can be written about setting and achieving goals.  What I would like to do today is to try to simplify goal achievement.

Our goals really revolve around the following:

  • What do we want to do?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • Who do we want to be?

We answer these questions.  These are our goals.

Our plan describes how we are going to achieve these goals.

Both these steps are relatively easy.  The difficulty is in implementing the plan.  Successful implementation requires that we ask ourselves throughout the day if our actions will help us reach our goals.  If yes, then continue with the action.  If no, then do not.

As a very simple example, pretend that your goal is to go on vacation.  You have determined where you want to go and how much it will cost.  Later, you are shopping and see a pair of shoes you really like, but do not need.  Will buying the shoes help you reach your goal of saving money to go on vacation?  No.  So do not buy the shoes.

As another example, pretend that your goal is to get a promotion at work.  You have a project that is due Monday.  You can work over the weekend and complete it or tell your supervisor it will not be ready Monday and ask for an extension.  Which decision will help you reach your goal of a promotion?

Our goal achievement is based on all the little decisions we make each day.  Are you making decisions that will help you reach your goals?

Try!

Try! (Video)

I am not an avid baseball fan, but I do know a little about the game.  Something that fascinates me is that if a player has a batting average of .300 it is considered good.  This means that the player gets a hit 30% of the time.  This also means that 70% of the time he does not get a hit!  In other words, he succeeds 30% of the time and fails 70% of the time.

How many of us consider ourselves failures if we are not “batting” .500?  .900?  How many of us consider ourselves failures if we do not hit a home run every time we go to bat?

Sometimes I think we are too hard on ourselves and need to step back and put things into perspective.  We are not going to hit a home run every time.  We are not even going to get a hit every time.

But if we continue to go to the plate and try our best, we will do better than those sitting on the bench.  At least at the plate we have a possibility of getting a hit, and maybe even a home run.  We do not have any chance as long as we sit on the bench.

Give yourself credit for going to the plate and trying.  You are automatically more successful than those who continue to sit on the bench.

Do What is Right, but Right for Whom?

Do What is Right, But… (Video)

Generally, a good rule of thumb is to do what is right.  Not necessarily what is easy, or what we want, but what is right.

Suppose what is right for another in not right for us, however?  If it is something that will harm us, then the answer is easy—do not do it.

What if it will not harm us, but is not convenient for us?  Or it will not hurt us, but we really do not feel like doing it?  Then the answer is much more difficult.  On the one hand, we need to take care of ourselves.  On the other, we do have responsibilities to others, especially those that depend upon us.

I do not think there are any easy answers to this.  It depends on the situation and the participants.  These are the guidelines I try to use.

  • Is it my sole responsibility to do it?  If yes, then I do it.
  • Is it primarily my responsibility to do it?  If yes, then I do it unless there is someone else responsible, available, and willing to do it.
  • Is it something that needs to be done and am I best qualified, capable, and/or available to do it?  If yes, then I generally do it.
  • Is it something that is someone else’s responsibility?  If yes, then I may do it if the person does not ask for help often.  If the person is capable of doing it herself and yet frequently asks for help, I usually say no.  There comes a point when I do not want someone to take advantage of me and I do not want to enable that person to not take responsibility.
  • If I do not do it, will someone come to harm regardless of whose responsibility it is?  If yes, then I do it if I can.

Determining what is the right thing to do can be a difficult balancing act.  If we at least think about it first and make a conscious decision, we will probably make a good decision.

Finish What You Start

Finish What You Start (Video)

For me, starting projects is easy.  New projects are fun and exciting.  The difficulty is in finishing them.  Finishing is what matters, however.  It is in finishing the project that we get the results we want.

There are many reasons we do not finish what we start.  We get busy, we get tired, or other things come up.  Sometimes we do not finish out of fear.  If we do finish, things may change.  Sometimes we do not finish because we did not create and implement a plan to make the change happen. 

Often we do not finish because we did not make a commitment.  Talk is not enough.  We have to take action.  And usually we have to take action over and over again.

I have a friend who has told me for the past 15 years that her boss is horrible and that she has to get a new job.  For 15 years I have agreed with her.  Although she has made a few forays into the job market, she has never really committed to leaving her current job.  She has never finished what she starts—finding a new job.

I have another friend who almost 20 years ago decided he wanted to be a writer.  He has never finished a manuscript.  Since he has not finished one, he has never had one to sell.  He has never really made the commitment to investing the time and energy it takes to be successful as a writer.

I have many friends who have been very successful in new careers, new business ventures, and even new lives.  I admire them greatly!  I do not think that, in general, they are any smarter than my other two friends.  I also do not thing they have any more luck.  What they do have is the commitment to finish what they start, no matter what happens.

Besides commitment, focusing on the result we want to achieve can help us find the motivation and dedication to finish.  Finishing matters!