Monday, December 19, 2011

Goal Setting, Lesson 3, Are We There Yet?

Even if you're not following along the goal setting workshops lessons, you are in for a treat! This blog post is tons of fun and thought provoking all by itself. For those of you doing the lessons...if you think the other lessons were fun, this one is the real winner.

Enjoy! (Oh, and I hope everybody's having fun getting ready for Christmas. We are here at the Meier Household. Kitchen isn't "quite" done yet, but we are. LOL. We'll be doing in the trim in 2012. For right now, we're hoping no one notices!)


Session Three: What kinds of goals should you have? (Are we there yet?)

So are we ready to set goals yet?

Yes.  As my dad used to say, “Ring the tambourine.” (When I was six that was hysterically funny.)

According to the pundits who wrote the self-help/business motivation books I’ve read, there are seven steps in goal setting. In the next session, we’ll work on steps 2 through 4. In the session after that, we’ll work through steps 5, 6 and 7. But today we’re only working on Step 1: Determine what you really want.

Today we’re going to figure out what kinds of goals you should set and maybe even how many. 

Last session, I asked you to figure out if you worked more to avoid pain or to gain pleasure.  Actually, what I asked was…

Are you motivated more by fear of loss or hope of gain?

If you answered that question honestly, you now know a great deal about yourself and how you work. What makes you tick.

And that’s going to help you to set goals that will motivate you, but goals which also (I hope) will achieve the purposes you most need in your life!

So, the question is…What do you need?

On one of his tape series, Tony Robbins gave a lesson on the Power of Why. Why do we do the things we do? And he claimed that we do everything we do because we want to be happy. He gave an example of something he wanted and continued to ask and answer the question “why do I want that?” … until he ultimately said, “To be happy.”

The truth is most of your goals are created to try to fulfill the overall purpose of being happy. Most of us became parents, wives/husbands, community workers (like volunteer firemen and PTO members) and writers to fulfill an “emotional” need. Though we can say we joined the volunteer fire department to serve our community, the bottom line is serving our community makes us feel good about ourselves and feeling good about ourselves makes us happy.

We all want to be happy. That’s why a lot of us end up with ambiguous goals like “Be happy this year.” We know the bottom line. We simply don’t know how to get to it. The goal “to be happy” isn’t really tangible. It’s not measurable. And it’s also a state. You can’t accomplish “happy” but you can take steps to accomplish something that makes you happy. And those steps are your goals.

So I guess what we could say then is that the first trick to setting goals is to figure out what emotional state you want and then determine the steps you have to take to get it.

Do you want to feel secure, be happy, end the year with a sense of accomplishment, boost your self-esteem, have a sense of purpose or pride by helping a child or any one of a hundred other emotion-based bottom lines?

The truth is you don’t want to sell a book to get money…Well, you might. Lord knows, I did. But money isn’t really the bottom line. Money for me was security. What I wanted was the security money provided. (And security, of course, made me happy.)

There are other driving forces at work behind everything you do and when you figure out what it is you really need to make you happy, like security, accomplishment, purpose … then suddenly all those goals like get a book published make sense. And so will your more ambiguous goals like be a “good” mom.

If you isolate your purpose(s) for the year, then when you set a goal you’re not arbitrarily making a “rule” for yourself. You are trying to fill a need and you can easily figure out the necessary steps to accomplish something that will satisfy that need. And, again, those steps become your goals.

Let's say that again...

If you isolate your purpose(s) for the year, then when you set a goal you’re not arbitrarily making a “rule” for yourself. You are trying to fill a need and you can easily figure out the necessary steps to accomplish something that will satisfy that need. And, again, those steps become your goals.

This also works in the reverse.

For instance, when you know that you want security (financial or otherwise) you might realize that the goal of quitting your day job isn’t realistic this year. So you wouldn’t set that goal. Rather, you might set a stepping stone goal that helps you get to the point where quitting your day job is possible next year or the year after. Which means that knowing what you truly want helps as much to prevent you from setting goals which will fail, as much as guide you to setting goals you will achieve.

So how do you figure out what it is you really want? How do you determine your driving emotions? How to you determine your driving needs?

You consider your life roles and the basis behind why you got yourself into those roles.

Why did you get married? To argue all the time? Or to share your life?

If you got married to share your life, then setting the goal of writing 22.5 hours a day encroaches on the need to “share your life” with your husband and you won’t do it. Your goal will sabotage fulfillment of your need every bit as much as a desire to satisfy your need will sabotage your goal.

That sounds like a lot of double talk, so let’s dissect it. Your goal (writing 22.5 hours a day) will keep you from an emotion you’ve committed yourself to getting (the joy of sharing your life) so your goal isn’t practical. It’s in conflict. And one of two things will happen. You will either be unhappy as you succeed at your goal of writing 22.5 hours a day. Or you will fail at your goal while you satisfy your need to share your life. And be unhappy for failing. In fact, you'll make yourself just about crazy!

Let’s try another one…

Why did you get your day job? For security? For money? To have somewhere to wear your Gucci shoes?

If you did it for security, or for money, then leaping into the publishing world without a safety net is going to be scary and you might find yourself making excuses for not writing, rather than writing. Because if you’re somebody who likes security, even if you can consciously talk yourself through or out of the fear of the insecurity, subconsciously you will still see it. And you will probably sabotage yourself.

So, if one of your greatest needs is security, rather than ignore that, the real goal you need to set should be a goal that balances work and writing, providing security, while helping you walk into the future.

Setting goals that conflict with your internal needs won’t just sabotage your life, they can actually be the cause of depression and confusion.

Whew!  Doesn’t that make sense!

So, I guess we’re now saying the second trick to goal setting is figuring out what you really want and making sure that accomplishing one want doesn’t interfere with something else. (Especially not a need.)

Now, before you begin to think this is limiting, let me assure you that you can want lots of things. It’s not unreasonable to want to be happy, to be successful, to be a good mom/dad, and have a good marriage. You simply have to be realistic about your wants, to balance them, and to find a way to make your wants and needs work together.

This might mean that you can only set one writing goal. But, you know what? If it’s a good, solid goal, and you achieve/accomplish it…Isn’t that better than setting 50 goals you never achieve?

So your assignment is to give your roles some thought. Wife, mother, dad, husband, doctor, lawyer, church volunteer, sister/brother, daughter/son, friend, writer, painter, fisherman, golfer, shopper…

Get to the bottom line of why you are in the roles you are in and what emotion you hope to get from being the person in each of those roles.

Then do Step One: Determine what you really want/need. Your goals should be a combination of a list of things that allow you to accomplish all the tasks you need to accomplish to be all those things, as well as a list of things that assure you get the pleasure from your roles.

For instance, I have a goal of playing golf with my husband once a month. This goal accomplishes the purpose of giving me rest/entertainment because I like golf courses. (Very nice landscaping! Fresh air. Sunshine.Who doesn't love that?) But this is also an easy way for me to get private time with my husband, which bolsters our marriage. Because one of my “needs” is to have the emotional security of a great marriage. Another is to have something in my life I “enjoy” simply for the purpose of enjoying it. (I really love to drive the golf cart!) That goal of playing golf with my husband once a month satisfies a lot of wants and needs!

What did I really want/need? Security of a good marriage, some fun, some rest, to have a way to “be good” to my husband – so what was my goal? To play golf once a month. (Weather permitting!)

So that’s what you need to do today. Decide what you really want. Security of a good marriage. The pleasure of knowing you’ve fulfilled your responsibilities to your kids by being a good mom. Good health. (Note: I didn’t say exercise or diet.) Satisfaction of volunteer work. Satisfaction of using my gifts, talents. Security of paying my bills. The pleasure/satisfaction of growing. The fun/joy of looking good. The satisfaction of using my gifts/talents to earn money – to earn more money. etc. etc.

Make a list of the “emotions” you want, then set some goals! Make sure you get what you really want and what you really need. And think outside the box as I did with my golfing once a month. Make your goals work on more than one level!

susan meier

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