Part 6 | Six Reasons Why Having Goals Works

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October 28, 2016

Reason #6: Goals are Trackable

Goals give us something we can see, track, adjust, play around with, and share.

This is a good thing because—like it or not—life is always happening.  And, so much of it cannot be seen, tracked, adjusted, tinkered with, or shared.  At times, it might feel like life is just flooding in and our only option is to do our best to keep our head above water.

Trying to control or predict all of the elements of the world is like trying to catch the current of a river in a jug or capture the wind in a net.

So much is going on, in fact, that even in times of calm it can be easy to coast and float through life without really reaching for new heights.  We can become passive observers of our lives without even realizing it.

Perhaps we fall in to the mesmerizing rhythm of our comfort zone where there isn’t any urgency to speed up or slow down.  The days blur together.  The time passes.  We age, we accumulate things, we move around.  But, is that really life…are we truly growing?

Without goals or solid intentions in some areas of our lives, we will generally settle for what life hands us.  And, globally, “what life hands us” is whatever is produced by those around us who have plans and goals.

So, by taking deliberate action and setting goals, we are, in a sense, stepping out of the rushing river and giving ourselves something “homemade” to focus on and track.  We give ourselves the gift of watching something grow and unfold…on purpose.

Setting one tiny goal can deliver a rippling effect into the rest of our lives because that single goal might be (or at least feel like) the one place in our lives where we have a say, where we can put incremental actions into motion and achieve tangible, observable results.

Action:  Set one goal: write it down, tell a friend, put it on the calendar, track it, and do it.  As always, if you’re new to this process, start small.  Make it something that you can easily get your head around, like: flossing for 10 days in a row, or doing the dishes every night before you go to bed, or getting to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 4 weeks in a row.  Try it out using the system and ideas from this series.  Remember, it takes practice and some fine tuning to adopt a system of goal setting, and, as always, it’s a matter of progress not perfection.

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

zach-profile

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Part 5 | Six Reasons Why Having Goals Works

strengthsshotimageOctober 20, 2016

Reason #5: Accountability

It turns out that statistically (and logically) the number one reason that we don’t achieve our goals is because we stop pursuing them when things get rough.  It’s common enough.  We get burnt out.  We forget why we started.  We fabricate an excuse.  We generate an “out”.  We move on to other things.  We lose our focus.

In a word, we: quit.

Most of us have done it.  Maybe it’s even a pattern.  But, what matters here is why we give ourselves permission to quit and what can be done about it.

Chances are, when we abandon something, we’ve chosen to go it alone.  We feel like, perhaps, we are the only ones to have a true stake in their achievement.  With this mentality it’s easy to give up because we’ve created a scenario where we are unseen, unknown, and, therefore, unsupportable.  We don’t give others the chance to root for us and help us stay the course.  But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

It can make us vulnerable to let others know our plans and dreams, but that is often where the magic happens—as well as the results.  It’s pretty simple, if we know that others in our life will check-in now and then on our progress, we are more likely to push through difficult times.  We, in a sense, create an environment where we are no longer alone in our work and have someone (anyone) to keep us accountable.

Importantly, in order to involve others in our goals, we must first be clear about what they are.  That is, we must be able to articulate our aim.

So, it’s a two-fold blessing.  Telling others about what we plan on accomplishing requires us to, first, make a plan—which, in turn, helps them help us advance toward it.

To be sure, it’s easy to be all in on a project when it’s smooth sailing; and, sometimes, things are easy from start to finish.  Those are called “freebies” in the personal development community.

The true measure of our grit, however, and probably the true barometer of our human potential, comes when the sky darkens around us and the sea turns.  This is when it’s easiest to stop—especially when no one is there to cheer us on.

Left to our own devices, it’s simple—and sometimes understandable—to bail out on a goal when the going gets rough.

If we are the only ones checking-in with ourselves about the pursuit and progress of our actions, we can convince ourselves pretty easily to stop.  However, the moment that we allow others in to our dreams, we invite them to support us and hold us accountable.  They may even jump in unexpectedly and provide valuable assistance and resources.

Telling others what we plan to do opens up a network of support and thwarts feelings of despair and fatigue when challenges arise.

As they say, a guy who is his own doctor, has a fool for a doctor.  Sure, our goals might be specific to our own private lives, but we need not venture toward them privately.  We need not be our only source of accountability.

After all, if we see ourselves as alone in our endeavors, we, too, will feel alone in their accomplishment.  And who wants to celebrate greatness in solitude?

Action: Practice makes perfect.  Try practicing reaching out this week by telling someone in your life about either something that you are struggling with or about something that you are pursuing—a goal.  It need not be a big formal affair.  You can simply check-in with this person and then, kindly, ask them if they would, from time to time, check in with you about how things are going.  In some circles this is called an “accountability buddy”.  The more we practice this, the easier it becomes.  Plus, we can then show up in this role for others in our lives and help them, too, achieve personal greatness.

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.zach-profile

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Part 4 | Six Reasons Why Having Goals Works

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October 12, 2016

Reason #4: It’s Replicable

Having goals is important, but it’s not everything.

Sometimes it is important to have no plan because it gives us an opportunity to relax, allow, and participate in the spontaneity of the world around us.  After all, there are nearly seven billion people on earth, and when we dive in to the flow of things we open ourselves up for experiences, learning, and personal growth.  Not having a plan or a goal tests our flexibility, our receptivity to the unknown as well as our responsivity to the present moment.  We may find opportunities to expand our world view that we never even knew existed.

That said, when it comes to creating circumstances and experiences that are non-negotiable (aka the things that we want to do before we die) having goals is a prudent consideration.

One of the main reasons for that is this: We can build off of what we can identify.  Add to that, the fact that we may easily track, measure, and benchmark that which we do intentionally and purposefully.  True, we might stumble into greatness a time or two.  But, how reliable is that path, and is it replicable?  Can we teach others how to do what we did by accident?

It seems unlikely.

That’s why having a goal works on many levels.  We can repeat our successes and avoid our failures and we can be of service to others by sharing our direct experience with them.  That is, we can describe our steps and instruct others on what, exactly, worked for us.

For example, if we have found that 15 minutes of daily exercise helped us stay accountable to our goal of losing 10 pounds in 6 months, we can use that as a model for future action.  Contrast that against someone who had no plan and no goal—maybe they shed the weight, but could they really detail how and why it happened?

Having goals takes the guesswork out of some of life and allows us to feel a greater agency in our living experience.

Action:  Start small with a 5-minute goal.  Think of a task or an action that is difficult for you to stay consistent in.  Maybe it’s keeping up with the dishes or meditating or getting to sleep on time.  Grab a piece of paper and divide it into seven columns.  Write the days of the week across it and commit to dedicating just 5 mins/day to the activity.  That means, 5 mins/day doing the dishes, 5 mins/day meditating, or 5 mins/day doing some deeply relaxing breaths before bed and clearing your mind.  Each day that you achieve your goal put a check mark under the day of the week that corresponds with that day.

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Part 3 | Six Reasons Why Having Goals Works 

img_0649October 3, 2016

Reason #3: Goals Create Structure

No one is going to force us to be great.  And, in that way, choosing to grow and evolve is a choice.  It won’t just happen.

Importantly, choosing to make changes is a choice that is different from, say, choosing to driving on someone’s lawn, stealing from the store, or not paying our taxes.  Eventually, someone will force us to stop doing them.  There are guides in place, which restrict and limit these behaviors—usually, they are called laws.

In our minds, we tell ourselves that this is for the benefit of all.  Meaning, if folks could drive wherever they pleased, take what they wanted, or refuse to pay their dues—it would negatively affect us all.

But what about the opposite?  Where are the guides and rules that encourage us to be rockstars in life and truly make a positive difference in the lives of others and our communities?

So many rules are put in place to limit “bad” behavior.  Where are the rules that encourage “good” behavior?

One answer might be this: goals.

Having a goal provides a structure around our pursuit of personal greatness.  Goals and each step required to achieve them function as guides to greatness.  Goals encourage good actions and, in the face of hopelessness, they promote pro-activity.

It’s like grocery shopping without a list.  We’re more likely wander the aisles, overspend, and simultaneously leave the store without the things we actually needed. 

When we have a goal we have a “shopping list”.  That is, we have a reason for doing the things that we are doing.   

After all, the road to success will be lined with many tempting parking spaces.  Goals remind us of the route that we have chosen to take toward the destination that we’ve decided upon.

Action: Create the “shopping list” for your life.  Instead of populating the list with apples, dish soap, and whole wheat, include elements and activities that you want to be doing every day/week/year.  It can serve as an easy reference list for moments when you feel lost, stuck, or in a rut.  It’s something to refer back to time after time over the years as you reach your goals.

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

Circle Photo

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.