Setting Goals: A Realization That Worked For Me


I remember that years ago I read a book on goal setting, coming away from it energized to follow the author’s advice. I spent time making and revising lists, both of long and short term goals. I kept them in my wallet. I taped them to the inside of the bathroom mirror. I even taped them to the dashboard of my truck. The idea was that if you had your list some place where you would see it every day, it would be much easier to achieve your goals.

Well, you know that feeling when you’re driving and have the sudden realization you have gone several miles, but can’t remember anything about it? There is that weird knowledge that you have driven safely, but on auto-pilot? That was what happened with my goals. I could go days and not even notice that the lists were there. I then memorized the lists, thinking if the goals were in my head all the time I would be better able to follow them. I discovered that there is plenty of space in my brain to store memorized information, places safe, secure, and far from the everyday routine of a busy life.

What I ended up knowing is that formal, long-term, lists of goals are not for everyone. I work very well with day to day lists of things to do that I just commit to memory or pull out of a pocket and refer to. A list of to do items sitting on the bathroom counter will get quickly get done. A list of big, long-term goals might be ignored, no matter how obvious the many places it is on display.

Still, goals of some kind are necessary. What I came to realize worked was to view goals as changes, rather than achievements I wanted to accomplish. I also find that I must believe my goals better my life in important ways if I am to accomplish them. For this reason, I have been successful learning about and sticking to healthy diet and lifestyle goals. On the other hand, it has been impossible for me to accomplish a goal that simply involves more financial success. I also seem to have a tolerance for situations or routines that are less than ideal. So, for me, goals that point only towards a happier life, tend to fall by the wayside.

If we are to accomplish things we want to do, my advice would be to make goals match personality and values. Be honest about yourself and about who you are. If what is most important to you is your health, focus your goals there. If money has never been the driving force in your life, it might be more difficult to stick to goals designed only to make you wealthy. Some of us are real goal oriented people, others, like me tend to live more in the here and now. Goals are important, but don’t beat yourself up if your approach to them seems to differ from the latest book, by the latest expert.

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Will Sig

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