Two Things to Make Your Goals Work For You

Last week, I suggested that you take YOUR route to annual goal-setting. Maybe your verb is to “hope,” or “intend” or a “commit” to those goals.  Robert Fritz, whose work I greatly admire,* balked at my offering of verbs. He argued that I missed the most important verb, to CHOOSE your goals.  And he offered this constructive thought to amplify:

“In our work, as you know, there is the primary choice, which is the goal you want to create, and the secondary choices, which are all of the other choices that need to be made to accomplish the goal. Often, we do not want to take the secondary actions in and of themselves. But we do in order to support the higher order primary goal. You may not like to exercise but you may do so to support the higher goal of heath and well-being. To build competence in the creative process, the best approach is to make strategic secondary choices to support your major goals, and to have your choices matter. May 2015 be your best year yet!”  (emphasis added)

So, how do you, as my title suggests, “make your goals work for you?”

1.  Choose things that you really want, because of course there will be bumps, gaps, weariness, frustration, and the ubiquitous busyness that infects our lives.  If you don’t really want a goal, then there’s little chance that those obstacles, setbacks, and busyness won’t take you way off track of achieving it.

2. Keep the goals in front of you.  I am going to lose if the choice is between watching my favorite basketball team and editing a frustrating email. Basketball is going to win.  But for a committed leader, that’s not the real choice.  Instead, if it’s the game or editing that email, AND the email advances the goal I have in front of me (Fritz’s “primary choice”) to help my CEO-client to “take his leadership to a whole new level;” or if the email is one I don’t “have to” send to my students, but editing and sending it will help me reach the goal I keep in front of me “to double their effectiveness as leaders;” well, then I have a good chance of just letting that game go and advancing my important life goals!!!**

So, I ask:

1. Are your goals REALLY  important to you?  If not, rewrite!

2. How can you keep your goals in front of you?  Some ways to consider:

  • Rig a template that puts your big goals at the top of your weekly/daily “to do” list.
  • Share your goals with an accountability partner and review them with him/her periodically.
  • Put them on a bulletin board above your desk.
  • Or write them on simple post-its.

One final thought:  If you put your goals in front of you, it does not mean you have to obsess about them every moment.  I have found that occasionally revisiting mine is enough. Indeed, when I want to achieve them, when I write them clearly, and when I glance at them from time to time, a different part of my brain takes over. There’s an element of magic about how they just seem to come to be.  Hope you’ll bring your goals into clearer focus — quite literally, as you

Lead with your best self!


* Fritz’s book The Path of Least Resistance offers fantastic insights for people who seek to create, and of course, leaders are always in the process of creating.

**  I’m NOT saying I should never get off the treadmill of work-and-goals.  Hopefully, we all have goals around balance, moderation, full lives, health, recreation, etc.  Nothing wrong with a good game, especially as the Pistons start winning again?!