Setting and reaching goals is something that gets a ton of lip service in the self-help/leadership development world. How many of us are actually following through with what we said we would do? How many of us actually become Goal Strong?
Let’s take New Year’s resolutions as an example. Of the 41% of Americans that usually make New Year’s goals, only about 9% successfully complete. These goals are usually in the areas of self improvement/education, weight loss, financial solutions, and relationships.
If 9% of 41% complete their goals, that would be about three or four people per 100. Not to take anything away from the three people that succeeded, but these numbers stink.
Not so SMART?
If you’re reading a blog on self-improvement, you’ve probably already heard about SMART goals. This is a strategy to take unclear goals and make them more actionable. The acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By assigning these constraints and descriptors to an otherwise vague goal, it would presumably help us kick into gear.
That would be great if it actually worked.
I would propose that the reason 97 out of 100 new year goal-makers fail is not that their goals weren’t specific enough – it’s that they didn’t want to do them, I mean REALLY want to do them – in the first place.
Having specific goals may not be the best first step, but this is certainly a logical NEXT step behind authentic inspiration.
Extreme and sincere inspiration, the kind that can carry us through sustained periods of transformation, comes from extreme triggers. The two most common are love and pain.
Love can move mountains. I’ve seen obese people shed massive weight so that they can live longer to spend more time with their grandkids. I myself quit smoking years ago to honor my commitment to a long, healthy life with my new bride. If you want another real-life illustration of this concept, read about John Crowley, a man who started his own Bio-Tech company to find a cure for his daughter’s rare disease.
Pain is another powerful teacher. While we don’t typically seek out pain, it has a way of finding us on our journey. Pain (some call it hitting rock-bottom) has lead to some of the greatest personal transformations I have witnessed. I’ve seen couples get out from under hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt after deciding they were sick and tired of being sick and tired. Recovering alcoholics often develop a new and deep relationship with a higher power (part of the 12 steps) to help them reclaim their lives, relationships, and health. For more on this, read The Silver Lining of Pain.
The Bottom Line
Setting goals based on arbitrary motivators such as date, time, a new year, or other external factors rarely works. This is why “i’m going to start next Monday” is a phrase that generally leads to goal fatigue.
True, deep, transformative inspiration is a matter of the heart. Goals are most often reached with assistance from the brain, but are not driven by it.
Seek out your inspiration. Find what truly motivates you – come from a place of love.
Be Goal Strong.