A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on why I hate goals. You can read it here. Then, I wrote a piece in response to all the feedback I was getting, and that one is here.
It got me to thinking about the whole process of setting goals. Some of the more negative comments asked how I could actually get anything done without knowing where I was going, and some others thought it was a ridiculous statement. (By the way, these are the people who reacted to the headline without reading the article. If they had read it…)
But…don’t worry. Plenty of other people agreed with the whole idea and hate the S.M.A.R.T. process for goal setting just as much as I do. But the other thing to keep in mind is that it’s fine if some people are critical. It actually gives us a chance to expand on our ideas, which I am doing here…
I still hate setting goals…but I am very much into setting a direction. There is a huge difference. For example: If you set a goal declaring, “I want to be a great speaker,” when do you actually reach greatness? When you give your first talk to 10 people?
“There. I am a speaker.”
Or, is great speaking a direction you want to move into? Do you ever actually reach the status of being a great speaker? Maybe….but it probably isn’t after your first talk.
Setting a goal of getting to the gym 4 days a week is a definite action you can take and it fits the SMART goal definition, but what if the “goal” is to be in phenomenal shape physically? When do you reach that? And do you just stay there, or do you have to keep working at it? (I know you know the answer to that, just as I do. You have to keep moving in that direction.)
Setting a direction means you are moving and getting better at moving toward what you want.
Let’s say your “goal” is to be an artist. When do you become that? When you paint your first canvas? Or does it take a little time? Do you have to keep at it? Do you keep getting better and better? Yes, if you keep working at it. It is a direction you move in, and yes, you need to have direction in your life to get to where you want to go.
I want to be a great author.
OK, when does that happen? How do you know you’ve reached it?
A common one I hear from clients is, “I want my book to help as many people as possible.”
- I think that is a great “direction.” How do you know when you’ve reached it? (Which is a great question, and very valuable for me to know…and for you to know.) Sometimes you will hear from those your book touches, but often you won’t. You have to have other markers for knowing you’re touching people and helping them. What are they? It’s not as though you suddenly just arrive. “There. Now I’ve helped people.” Now what?
Smart goals are fine for setting very specific things, e.g., I’m going to reach out to five people every day about my book. I’m going to drink 25 ounces of water a day. I’m going to hire a coach for three months to help me build my business and my platform.
If, instead, you’re setting a direction, these very “goals” would sound like this:
I’m going to influence many people with my book.
I’m going to eat healthfully and get in the best shape of my life.
I’m going to build my platform to reach as many people as possible and get them engaged with me.
Now you understand why those who were really critical and said things, like, “Good luck getting anywhere if you don’t have a goal,” clearly hadn’t read the article. If you’re like me, we want to get better at doing things. If you want to be a better author, a better DIY publicist, a better promoter of your book, a better guest on shows, then you’re setting a direction and working toward it every day. That’s how you get great at anything, one step at a time.
For 2019 and beyond, may you set your desired directions and move toward them bit by bit, day by day, month by month. May this be a year during which you shine!
To your success!
P.S. Psssst! I am launching something new in 2019, but I can’t talk about it quite yet…but I will soon. Meanwhile, if you have questions you can submit them to Savvy Sunday News (me) here.