Category Archives: Goal Setting

Is it goal-setting time again?

Taking a two-week vacation is like hitting that “reset” button on my brain.  And it’s really nice to sit back, and take stock of things.  It also opens up that cavern in the back of my mind, and there are some monsters back there.  I won’t get into those, because they’re like Gremlins: I shouldn’t feed them, lest they become stronger and creepier.

I’ve said before that I don’t believe in resolutions; I believe in goals.  But, frankly, no matter what you call them, both fail equally miserably.  I still think there’s value in the process.  Stop, review, think, plan, act; repeat.

So here’s something I’m throwing out there: The most important part of goal-setting is retrospective.  Setting attainable goals is easy, because we keep our ideas tethered on what we know is possible.  A whole realm of possibility is untapped, simply because we’re not looking for it.  Not because we can’t, but because we don’t.  Chances are, it’s the things that didn’t go well that are hiding the opportunities for breakthrough.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’

Isaac Asimov

Part Two: What do you want?

Goal setting is a journey.  Let’s start this journey with the end in mind.  And I’m talking about the end.  The when they’re writing your obituary end.  Bleak?  Maybe.  But if you could look back on your life from that perspective, what do you see?  What do you want?

For me, I look back, and I see a life lived in good health.  I sort of envision a kind of younger-looking version of Jack LaLanne.  Maybe someone like Sister Madonna Buder.  I see someone who didn’t need a walker or a mobility scooter, right up until the end.  (However, if I ever do need a mobility scooter, I call dibs on this one.)

What does it take to make it happen?  I’m a firm believer in goal-setting.  When I’ve done it, it works.  If you’ve never set goals before, a quick run-down on some of the criteria that make a goal a good one.  I like the “SMART” acronym, personally.

  • Specific.  Target a very specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable.  How will you know that you were successful/how successful were you?
  • Attainable (or Achievable).  Can it actually be done?
  • Relevant.  Does it really matter to you?
  • Time-bound.

Trouble with “SMART” is that it means different things, depending on who you ask.  For instance, some corporations use “A = Aligned with Corporate Goals”, which completely deludes both the company and the employee.  More often than not, corporations are only interested in year-over-year goal-setting.  But goals are really about making you great in the long-term, which in turn makes everything you do touched by greatness.  In other words, if you take care of your personal life, your health and your career, everybody wins.

Let’s stick with “Attainable”, and focus on those three areas of life.  We start with the end in mind, and work out the steps it’ll take to get there.  Think long-term.  That’s 10 years from now.  What will you have achieved by then?  Let’s try a fictitious goal as an example:

By January 2024, I have established a successful business, supplying widgets to the entire West Coast region.

And there it is.  It’s got a deadline, and it’s pretty specific about how and what will be measured on that deadline.  What’s more, it’s written in past tense, which is really just a trick to make you believe it.  Moving on… backward:

By January 2019, I am Regional Sales Manager, Western Division for XYZ Mega Corp.

Cool.  You’re going to need industry contacts.  Your boss won’t be pleased that you’re thinking about spinning off that sales division into your own company, though.  Best keep that under wraps for now.  But wait — maybe, just maybe, they’ll even help — if you can show that the National Corporate Headquarters can benefit by lopping off the Western Division.

By January 2015, I’ve successfully completed a Continuing Education course about writing a successful business proposal.

That’s only a year off, so now is the time to act on it.  This month, there are steps that you can take to attain that goal.  You might not be able to start your company tomorrow, but you can certainly pick up the phone and enrol in a course that will help you get there.

Rinse, lather and repeat.

By September 2023, I have completed five iron-distance triathlons.

or

By April 2019, I have 2.5 children and a house with a picket fence.

The sky is the limit.  Now try it in your own notebook.  And feel free to add some of your goal ideas in the comments section.  In Part Three (of what is becoming a poorly-planned three-part series in four [or more] parts), we’ll discuss some strategies for taking your goals from your notebook into reality.

All the best,

Darryl

One hundred twenty three.

This was impossible, only two months ago.  I hadn’t been in the pool for at least a decade, and even then, “freestyle” wasn’t in my vocabulary.

I’m beginning to see that this is now becoming a real possibility. There is nothing preventing me from completing my first tri next spring, and nothing preventing me from giving it my best shot.

In 123 days, I will be able to officially call myself a triathlete.

No Sun Run :(

Yes, my shoes are shelved for this year’s Sun Run.  After last year’s stellar performance, I am forced this year to sit out.  I am finally getting over a nasty sinus cold, and a lovely issue in my left knee related to my quadriceps tendon.

I am disappointed, especially since I’ve been training for the past three months, but at the same time, I know that there’s more glory in not finishing than there is in not starting.  I can’t say I didn’t try.

In all this bad news though, I am still well on track to participate in this year’s Chip’s Not Dead Yet Memorial Mile (which although timed, is more of a party than a race).  The idea is to celebrate the fact that we’re alive, and make use of our lives while we still have them.  We’re not dead yet!

Beginning with a daily foundation for greatness

Why should I set out a goal to be “great,” and what on earth does that mean anyway?  Isn’t it a bit egotistical to think that I could possibly be a great person?  Why should I even bother?  Let’s set some ground rules: Being great is about being honest with one’s own self.  Being great makes no implication that any other individual isn’t great.  Being great is all about personal responsibility, growth, and possibilities.  It’s already within each of us, and we all have something to share.  I believe that there is, within each of us, the desire to make today better than yesterday.  For ourselves, for our community, for our planet.  To this end, I write with the intent that my humble words here will make even just the tiniest impact in your life, and that you will become greater in yourself and begin inspiring greatness in others.

Even with the best of intention and planning, some things just don’t work out.  People say, “Well, you can’t say you didn’t try.”  I hate that – it’s as if the only thing we should be concerned with is P.R. and damage control on our failures; how to make ourselves look better.  It’s not about that.  Great people don’t care whether someone is going to make fun of them for trying.  Great people aren’t afraid to try.  We must own our failures and learn from them.  Didn’t do it right today?  Don’t worry, you’ll get another chance.

It’s always wonderful and frightening when we are given an opportunity to start something anew.  Like starting a new job, or moving to a new city.  Realize that you have that same opportunity every morning as the sun comes up, to choose how you want to go about your day.  You can make only one choice, so make it a good one.

I wish you all the best in 2009, and I hope that you’ll inspire me too!

(Also posted at changeeverything.ca)