Goal Setting: Are we doing it wrong?
WHEN I look back on my goals for last year, I realise something that would once have sent me into a spectacular tail-spin.
I didn't achieve a single goal I set last January. Not one. Zilch. Zip. Nada. None.
Now, before you deem me a failure or send emergency remedies of wine and chocolate for my depressive state, I must tell you that I feel okay about this. In fact, I really couldn't care less. It might even feel good.
You can still send wine and chocolate if you wish.
The thing is, last year I set goals I felt were expected of someone in my position, things that would be good for me to do. For example, lose 10kgs, achieve XYZ in business, meditate every day, blah blah blah, but in fact, they meant nothing to my heart and I now realise I have been doing this goal setting business all wrong.
You see, when our goals have no feeling or meaning connected to them, and they come from a place of fear rather than following our nose to what we love to do, then those goals are bound to fall into the refuse tip of broken dreams and discarded New Year's resolutions. Or even worse, we might spend all year blindly slaving over pointless, empty stuff we don't even care about.
So, why do we bother setting goals at the beginning of the year? Is it really because we want to do and achieve more? I think not.
I believe it's because we want to take a fresh opportunity to feel more, be more and contribute more. With me on this? Then read on.
All the feels...
I'd argue we wish to start afresh each year because we desire to feel differently - about our work and ourselves. When we recall the relatively short-lived moments of success from last year, or as we're ticking off our career to-do list, we might notice that it seems like a whole lot of striving in return for a few rather fleeting moments of accomplishment. Lots of "feel bad" and not enough "feel good".
When we set our intentions, not for what we want to do, but for how we want to feel and be, everything changes for us. If we want to feel a sense of progress in our role or business, then we will focus on things that carry us forward. If we want to feel competent and capable in our leadership, we choose to take on challenges that lead us to learning and growth. If we want to feel connected with our purpose, then we must choose to shed the daily distractions and focus on the work that truly lights us up.
So, let me ask you: how do you want to "feel" this year? Start by identifying three to four key feelings you'd like to carry you through this year, and then map your planned goals and activities back to those feelings.
Insert meaning here...
At the start of the year, we can be prone to melancholy reflection and searching for the meaning in our work and careers. We might wonder what the point of our work actually is, what, or who, it's all for (and do they actually care?), and perhaps to question whether we're making an impact at all.
Be warned though, searching externally, in places outside of yourself, work, business or partnerships, for those answers is a trap and a complete waste of time.
Instead, when it comes to finding the purpose of our contributions this year, we must go inside ourselves. This means filtering out all the expectations of others, and quietly asking ourselves a simple question: what lights me up?
So, insert your own meaning into the contributions you choose to make -no searching required. By the way, if the way you spend your waking hours doesn't light you up, well... you've got choices. Make them.
Plan from a place of love, not fear.
Finally, nothing brings better feels or meaning than working from a place of love. So, what does that mean, and how do we do it?
I always start by identifying the contrast - this means that sometimes it's easier to know what makes us feel bad, fearful or heavy. From there, we can more easily determine that "if I don't want more of this, then I do want more of that". The things we want more of will be the things we love, that allow us to feel light, happy and as though our contribution is meaningful.
The funny thing is what you want, and what you don't want, are the two opposite ends of the same stick.
Revisit your goals and let me know how they will help you be and feel everything you love this year.