Got Goals? So What?

Forget goals. Knowing what you want is important, but it’s just the start. The bigger question is are you getting to where you want to be? In your career? Relationships? With your health and wellness? Finances? Spiritually and emotionally?

A few days ago I was hit with a one-two gut-punch of a question: “How much time do you spend every week making progress on your goals?” Then, “How much time have you spent this week making progress on your goals?” And, the finishing uppercut, “How much progress have you made this week?”

Like many reading this, I consider myself a goal-driven person. Yet, these questions splashed me with ice water cold truth: I have stopped being fully intentional about my success.

Over the years, I have slipped into treating goals as an intellectual exercise instead of as the outcomes I am absolutely committed to taking heroic levels of action to create. Sometimes I would achieve a goal and sometimes I wouldn’t. There was no consequence, no accountability, if I didn’t, I’d simply put it on the next year’s goals.

I’m stunned and embarrassed by how little intentional weekly action I was actually taking. Sure, I was taking some action – enough to fool myself into thinking I was on track. But most of my “action” was actually only thinking about maybe doing things, completely ignoring some actions all together, and I was keeping busy doing a whole bunch of stuff kind of related to my goals but not moving me forward. It’s a reminder that being busy and taking deliberate and intentional action are two very, very different things.

Ego bloodied and bruised, I put together a simple document to help me get intentional about planning and taking weekly action. The document lists about my goals for the year with weekly outcome/progress I plan to make (a mini-goal), the actions I am going to take, and when I will do them.

I learned a few things putting this together:

  • Creating a weekly goal forces me to very clear on my annual goal.
  • Identifying weekly action forces me to be very clear on my weekly goal.
  • Many of my goals were more vague intention or general direction than specific outcome.
  • Progress comes from daily action and on really big or unclear goals, that’s easy to forget.

I was reminded that, for me, the word “goal” is soft. I tend to use it to mean “something I would like to see happen.” For me, I need to use a different word. Maybe “priority” as in: “What are my priorities for the year?” No, even that doesn’t have enough edge. How about a combination of “commitment” and “results” as in: “What results am I absolutely committed to achieving this year?”

Let me ask you:

  1. What are your goals? What are your priorities? What outcomes are you absolutely, 100%, come-Hell-or-high-water, committed to creating?
  2. How much focused time did you spend this week working toward those outcomes? And how does that compare to activity not related to your outcomes?
  3. What are the obvious ways you could (will) increase your focused actions?
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