Can you remember the ﬁrst time your teacher asked you to write down what you wanted to be when you grew up?
You probably wrote whatever you thought was cool: professional hockey player, astronaut, or bull rider. It was a great exercise and your ﬁrst foray into the world of goal setting. You had no concept of the type of goals, what they mean or why you wanted to accomplish them – except for bull riding, that one explains itself – but you had performed a vital step in achieving them, you spoke about the goal and you wrote it down. This article is going to expand on your Kindergarten exercise.
Types of Goals
We think about goals in two distinct category, and believe that it is important to set these two different styles of goals up with different strategies and thought processes.
The ﬁrst kind is a long-term, broader overarching theme. This is the ‘where do you want to be in 10 years’ type of question, in this category we punt speciﬁcs and go big. It may seem cliche but failing in attempting to achieve big is much better than winning small. Open yourself up to your desires, and it don’t feel handcuffed if you cannot yet imagine the end result.
If you want to someday own a multi-million dollar bakehouse write it down, who cares if you feel uncomfortable even thinking about it at the present time, the scarier the overarching goal is the better.
The second category of goals is very different, these are our short term goals, they are localized and are accomplishable inside 18 months. With this category we get speciﬁc. You want to be reaching for something you have not yet done but also have it be within the realm on possibility for the immediate future. Think about these goals as a treasure map, there is a deﬁnitive end, that I can see, I just need to follow this horribly confusing and winding trail to get there. If you have heard the SMART acronym before this is where I implement those aspects. Speciﬁc – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Time Based
How To Set Goals
Write Them Down When we mentioned the Kindergarten class exercise written in crayon on multicoloured paper did you laugh? Possibly, after all it seemed so silly writing down goals at 6 years old, how could you have possibly known what interests you would have. But, what your six year old self did right that many of us don’t as adults is write down the goal, on a piece of real paper, with a real pencil (crayon). Your six year old self had to make the goal! Until it went down on paper it wasn’t real, it was an idea and as wonderful as ideas are they mean diddly-squat unless we begin to execute.
If you’ve written down your goal you have already accomplished step one, congratulations! It is now real, now it’s time to share. When you are setting your goals, particularly with the Local Goals we discussed earlier, you must create accountability and not just a google calendar alert -although that can help. You need a partner, a coach, or a community to help hold you to the goal, especially on the days you feel like staying home and packing it in. So talk about your goal, get everyone involved. If you want to lose 10 lbs tell your friends, preferably the supportive kind who will pass on the dessert menu for you after the next dinner out. If you don’t want to involve anyone close to you that’s what coaches are for, so go out and ﬁnd one in the necessary ﬁeld and invest in them.
Add a Consequence
This last piece of advice is one that is often overlooked and unfortunately the most important. Shout out to Tim Ferris for highlighting this lesson and how we often overlook it with our own personal life. In our careers, we understand that we have work to do and not doing so will result in the loss of a job or some other negative consequence. This keeps us focused on the tasks even when we don’t feel like doing them. When we set personal goals we need to add a consequence, something you really don’t want to happen. It could be a ﬁne or an activity that you really dislike and it is helpful to have someone else control the consequence.
By: Sylvie Tetrault