Goals Are Not Dead; You Are, Without Them.
Wow! Thank God for 2023! It’s still a relatively new year and I have been hearing a lot of people say, “I do not make new year resolutions anymore.” Similarly others confess, “I have stopped goal-setting.” Do not make that mistake. Let me tell you why.
First of all, this may sound cliché, but it is true: “if you aim at nothing you will hit it.” Goal setting is a timeless, universal law. It’s a principle. I am of the Covey school of thought that principles and values are not the same because you can choose to value principles or not. That’s your business; but you won’t be spared the consequences of breaking an eternal law.
To illustrate this for those in Ghana presently, because the government is inundated with debt and is at the brink of defaulting in paying coupons and principals of domestic bonds they have instituted a Domestic Debt Exchange programme that is making nonsense of people’s savings and investments. Don’t forget that usually government bonds are so low in risk that investment advisors are often tempted to call them “risk free.” Consequently, I’ve come across people arguing—and you can’t blame them—vehemently inquiring, “What is the point of saving? We should have just spent our monies and enjoyed ourselves.”
But be wary: you cannot determine right laws to rule your life by just based on a one-off, unusual, unfortunate incident. What is going on in Ghana is rare (perhaps only Argentines, Zimbabweans and Jamaicans would understand); totally abnormal. So, one cannot refute the importance of savings and investments, which is a timeless, universal law (principle) just because one bad government has gone broke. In the same way, the fact that you have set goals in the past and it hasn’t worked out for you (or others) does not mean goal-setting doesn’t work.
Let me give you five things (a point per finger) to think about:
(1) GOALS MUST BE SET RIGHT
In the first place, are you setting the goals right? And are you setting the right goals? Are your goals specific? If not, they are not going to work. You can’t seize what you can see. Your goal cannot be fuzzy. Then, is it a stretch goal? Many of us will only get up and run after what really challenges us. Is your goal measurable, qualitatively or quantitatively? If not, one cannot keep score and one sees no point in running around in circles. Is it attainable, realistic? If it isn’t, you won’t even start when you know there is no winning, there’s no point venturing.
How about relevant? If it doesn’t really matter immensely to you, you are not going to live by it, let alone die for it. The goal must be right. If it isn’t important to your life purpose, that you won’t thrive without it or survive without it, you aren’t really going to pursue it. Are your goals time-bound? Whether it is a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual goal, it not only defines clear parameters but also creates a sense of urgency knowing that one doesn’t have ‘forever’ to accomplish it.
And oh! an essential part of what would be considered setting goals right and setting right goals would be to write/type them down. Many people underestimate the power of converting a metaphysical thought or idea into a physical one on paper or a device, grounding it on firma terra.
(2) NOTHING WORKS, REALLY
People set goals, even if they are done right and they are the right goals, go to sleep and then turn round to blame goal setting for not working. Remember, nothing works unless you work it. Even a car won’t work unless you work it, let alone things like marriage. Nothing works unless you work it, buddy. Of course goals don’t work; only people do! Are you working your goals, working on your goals, working out your goals?
(3) HOW ABOUT YOU YOURSELF?
But the third thing, apart from these first absolutely important duo above, is working on yourself! I keep repeating myself like a broken record and how key it is that the person at the centre of the goal-setting process grows in order to goal. So with every goal one sets, it is helpful to ask oneself: how/where do I need to grow in order to achieve this goal? There’s no successful working out goals if one doesn’t work on the person(s) whose goals they are.
(4) KEEPING TABS
If you’re like me, you may do all the above but just don’t make the time to periodically review how things are going with your goals. I tend to ‘go go go’ and not make the time to sit down on my blessed assurance to evaluate. Many times, it is in evaluating weekly, monthly or quarterly that one realizes things that need to be urgently adjusted or attended to in order for the goal to be hit. Imagine a pilot that doesn’t often do any course correction, they wouldn’t end up where they intended when they set out. These days there are instruments that automatically do the constant monitoring and course correction hence the plane can be left on autopilot. Until such autopilot instruments are invented for life itself, remember there is no way round the management cycle: planning (goal-setting right), implementation (working on yourself and working out your goals) and evaluation.
(5) GOT ACCOUNTABILITY?
A lot of us have no accountability. What are the structures you are putting in place to ensure you live by these goals? Don’t forget, as one professor says, human beings have an incredible capacity to deceive ourselves and that’s why l highly recommend that every one of you gets a coach. I have a coach, I have more than one coach. Get a coach, even if it means paying them. They would help you keep inspired and accountable; helping you keep your integrity to yourself and your goals until they are achieved.
You may also join a Mastermind this year, to find a group of goal-setters-go-getters who can keep each other motivated and mutually accountable. At YAW PERBI we will have Personal Growth, Family Foundations and Financial Whizzdom masterminds this year.
NO OBITUARIES IN 2023, PLEASE
So with just these five points, might you now have an idea why new year resolutions and goal setting in the past haven’t worked for you? Are you sincerely able to check all these boxes: (1) setting goals right and setting right goals, (2) working out your goals, (3) working on yourself, (4) keeping track by periodically evaluating and (5) getting accountability?
Neither goals nor goal setting is dead; rather you are, without them. Align your life and leadership with the timeless, universal laws of the universe. Don’t hurt yourself by kicking against the pricks. Goals and goal setting are not ancient landmarks you can remove and succeed. You will achieve nothing in 2023 without goals and you will have no one but yourself to blame—because you aimed at nothing, and hit it.