28 January 2009

Goal setting is not enough ...

Many time and productivity experts recommend goal setting and suggest writing down goals to help focus on them. But what is it really that stops us from achieving those goals?

Perhaps we are starting with the externals - i.e. the goals - before looking at the internals? We need to look at our goals in a different way if we really want to make changes in our life.

The internals really need to be aligned to achieving the goal otherwise it is just a struggle. Here are some of the things I do:

  1. Look at the goal and check if it aligns to personal values & desires.
  2. Identify habits of thought or behaviour that help or hinder achievement of the goal, work out how to reinforce the positive ones and minimize the negative ones.
  3. Define the required action steps for achieving the goal, set target dates, write them down & tell other people about them (that makes it harder to weasel out later).
  4. Ensure that the goals are S.M.A.R.T.
  5. Monitor progress and adjust plans accordingly.
  6. Use affirmations to reinforce goals and new habits.
  7. Don't give up, be persistent.
The key here is aligning internals - values, desires, thoughts, habits and behaviour - with the goals and linking them to structured plans of action.

Another important thing to realise is that we are unlikely to achieve mastery of new ways of thinking or doing immediately. There is evidence that expertise can take up to 10,000 hours to achieve. So there will be stumbles and failures at first. It is important to persist through these - and this is where the affirmations come in handy.

But what matters most in achieving goals is persistence, as Calvin Coolidge once said:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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