Setting Goals, and Not Achieving them has Consequences

“Goals produce the confidence that comes from knowing where you are going and how you will get there” – Paul J. Meyer

The New Year has arrived. Do you have your list of resolutions ready for 2014? For the purposes of this article, let’s assume your resolutions are your goals for the year. How are you going to get them all done? Do you have a plan? What inspired or drove the development of your list? Pain, pleasure or the infamous bucket list? Understanding your motivation for each of your goals gives you the power to achieve it.

I think the act of goal setting is great. It reflects your intention to get something done. It is unfortunate, however, most New Year’s resolutions never get realized, and the sad part about it is many people do not make an authentic effort to address their goals during the year. Why? Well, there are many reasons – or excuses – such as: You are busy and the tyranny of the day gets in your way. You may not have a game plan for getting to the goals on your list or your game plan is horribly unrealistic. Lastly, achieving the goals you wrote down may not mean much to you, so it is no big deal if you get them done or not.

I have a number of useful ideas for you if you want to accomplish your goals – for the New Year or any time:

  • Identify the specific actions you need to take to achieve your goals;
  • Set your priorities for each day ahead – the night before;
  • Make sure your goal list and related actions are incorporated into your daily priorities – and make this an ongoing practice;
  • Schedule the high-priority items to be handled within specific time slots each day;
  • Make sure you complete your priorities for each day before you go to sleep;
  • Review your progress on your goals every week, and take stock of whether you have an authentic, ongoing vested interest in each goal and modify as needed.

Does this sound onerous? Not if you are committed fully to completing your goals.

So much for the mechanics of goal setting and achievement! Now, let’s delve a little deeper and find out if there is something else in play that keeps us from meeting our objectives.

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Many times when we are unsuccessful in achieving our goals, we lament that there is not enough time to get done what we want to get done. It’s a common refrain. Just one question. Really? Or, is it a matter of time management and prioritization? If we are honest with ourselves, we may find we waste a lot of time doing mind-numbing or mindless tasks. This came home to me when I watched a new NBC program, ‘What We Wasted Our Year On,’ last Friday. The comedic review highlighted the stories, news and events we obsessed over in 2013 – from twerking and grumpy cat to Paula Dean’s gaffs and Anthony Weiner’s misbehavior.

The bottom line? There are many things in both the public domain and in our personal lives that can serve to distract us. Instead of keeping our eye on the prize – our priorities – we end up wasting time watching and concerning ourselves with matters that take us away from living our lives according to what matters most. Celebrity gossip, TV programs, movies, the internet and Hollywood hype are just some of our potential time wasters. Personal investments in unfulfilling relationships, constant texting and video game playing are a few more examples. What are the things that define your wasted time index? Which ones can you begin to avoid as you prepare for a more productive year?

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Larry Elder

It seems to me the best way to achieve your goals is to have a plan and to stick to it. Don’t have a plan or a clue as to what to do? Interview 5, 10 or even 20 people and share your resolutions for 2014. Ask them for advice, specifically how they would tackle your goals if they were in your shoes. Review all of the feedback and put the best thinking and ideas into your plan. Play, have fun. Maybe you are too serious. Make it a game. Engage people to help you get engaged. Give a little energy to get more energy back. Lastly, think about getting an accountability partner, someone to help keep you on track and to whom you report progress. An accountability partner can also help you think through your barriers, blocks, obstacles and limiting beliefs. This individual may even help you develop a better goal than the one you established yourself. By sharing your burden with another, the less burdensome will be your task and the more creative energy you will have in going for it.

Are your goals consistent with your values? Maybe you don’t believe in doing what you said you wanted to do. What is the reason for this? Is it something you want? How do you want to feel when you achieve your goal? Are you prepared to tell anybody and everybody about your goals? Why not? Aren’t you proud of what you are going for in your life? Or are you mindlessly setting goals and writing them down because someone told you to have a list?

“One of the goals of life is to try and be in touch with one's most personal themes – the values, ideas, styles, colors that are the touchstones of one's own individual life, its real texture and substance. ” – Gloria Vanderbilt

This raises another question: Are you going after what you want or are you working someone else’s agenda? I realize that you must do what you are required to do but make sure you attach a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). A legitimate WIIFM establishes a win-win proposition for you and those you work with, another one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits (THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE: POWERFUL LESSONS IN PERSONAL CHANGE). Working another person’s agenda item (if it is consistent with your values), affords you a unique learning opportunity plus the synergy of engaging with another toward a common goal. When you work someone else’s agenda as your own, with a plan, you validate yourself and your values.

Another impediment to goal completion is perfectionism. For example, we wait around for the precise moment when everything is exactly the way it should be before we start on our goal. We procrastinate instead of jumping in. The surprising thing is that once we take that first step it provides momentum to the next step. The first step even helps us find the next right step.

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Inertia, or your disinclination to motion, will rule you unless you initiate action. Is it fear of failure that is holding you back? Are you afraid of trial and error? I personally believe that you learn more from your failures than your successes. Failing means you are experienced in what doesn’t work. I realize that paving new ground always requires more effort than taking nice, smooth, easy steps in your action plan, but most of the effort is involved in getting started. Newton’s first law of physics says: “A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless the body is compelled to change its state.” So get compulsive about getting going. It is better to do something than to do nothing when it comes to pursuing your goals.

I say don’t be afraid to get messy or to falter. Learn from both your mistakes and your successes, and fine tune as you go along. Do something new every day, every week and every month to help achieve your goals. The consequences for not achieving your goals are the missed opportunities to learn and grow. It also calls into question your integrity; namely, doing what you said you were going to do. Not going forward forces you to remain stagnant. Remember this: If you are going to lead, and we are all leaders, the best form of leadership is by example. People are inspired by individuals who get things done. They are regarded as winners and most people want to be associated with winners. Do you want to be that winner?

And, there is more, there always is.

Be genuine.

Copyright 2014 © John J. Trakselis, Chicago CEO Coaching

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