Happy New Year to you all!
After celebrating New Year in Manchester last night, I wake up this morning in bright and sunny West Yorkshire with a clear blue sky I haven’t seen in these parts for months!
The usual New Year vibe is in the air. It’s the beginning of something. And social media is filled with goal lists. Which is what I want to talk about today.
Goal setting is very important to anybody who walks to make progress in 2019 and get things done, so well done to anybody who’s had a go and written a goals list for 2019. But there are a number of common mistakes people make that almost guarantee failure in certain areas. And that’s what I want to address in this article.
This is probably the single most powerful and immutable rule of goal setting.
I’m seeing a lot of people writing “find a girlfriend/boyfriend” and “find a husband/wife”. Now, once upon a time I was single for quite a lot longer than I wanted to be, so I really do appreciate the sentiment. However, this is something that the goal-setter cannot control because the other person – prospective girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife – has to agree to the relationship.
A better thing to write would be: “ask more girls out” because you can control it. Regardless of what the answer is and regardless of whether you get the date, you could still set a goal to ask 20 girls out and achieve it.
But of course if you ask twenty women out and they all say no, that is definitely going to bruise your ego.
Many of the lists I’ve seen this morning feature a very mysterious item: “Read more books”. And not to criticise others and their goals, but I truly don’t understand it. Why? To what end? Is the actual reading of the books the intention? Or is there a skill that you’re intending to learn?
Reading is quite time consuming and for a certain type of person, it negates action. Because it looks like you’re doing something. But actually, reading is the pre-cursor to action.
I would recommend reading when there’s clearly a knowledge-gap that preventing action. Otherwise, it’s just procrastination in disguise.
My 2019 reading list is 2 books.
Taking the “read more books” example from the last sub-section, it’s a very non-specific goal. I could read one book and technically I’ve completed the goal. Every goal needs a number so that it can be measured.
A better thing to write would be “read 25 books”, though I still have question the purpose of reading the 25 books and the gains that will be made because of that.
So one of my goals for 2019 is to “book at least 50 gigs”. So we have a lower threshold target. Every gig from number 51 onwards is a bonus. But most importantly, if I fall short of 50, I’ll know that I did and I’ll be able to look at what I can do better in 2020 to do better.
Somebody wrote “get out more” and “save money”. Now while there’s a chance that these goals in their current form simply aren’t specific enough, it’s also the case that going out costs money, which puts it at odds with saving money.
It might be better to say “save money by laying off the Starbucks” and “go out twice a week”. Now we have a specific mechanism for saving money that doesn’t necessarily stand in the way of going out twice a week.
If your goal is something big like losing a lot of weight or saving up for a deposit on a property, the chances are you’re going to get discouraged before you reach the final outcome. So divide it up.
Your end goal may be to lose 20kg. But as somebody who lost 15kg during 2018, I can tell you that that is a very long road. So it might help to set a bunch of modulated targets and aim first for losing 1kg. And then 5kg.
Quick wins do help to keep you motivated.
The final rule of goal setting is, set a deadline. And that deadline better not be December 31st of this year! You’ll get bored before then and frustrated with having to wait too long for the pay off.
So to combine the last two tips, you’d end up with a bunch of smaller goals which when completed will result in completion of the larger goal, and each step of the track will have its own deadline.
If you miss a deadline, it’s not the end of the world. Keep going. Any progress is better than none.
So there you go. The goal setting system I’ve used for… as long as I can remember now… I wish you all a happy, productive and prosperous New Year! And may all your dreams come true!
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