Thursday, July 29, 2010

Goals! I have one, now what?

Goals – I have one, now what?

Reaching a goal is an up hill battle, make no mistake. Forward, is the mantra.
It’s not all bad, there is light and help along the way.

The number one reason most goals are never reached is that people give up on them just before they reach them. Sound crazy I know, but it’s the truth. Think about the race to a goal as an uphill race with the last 20 feet the steepest. It’s that last 20 feet that defeat most of us.

Athletes know about this because they deal with it all the time. Watch long distance runners who find energy reserves when their lungs and muscles are screaming to stop, and burst forward to win. That’s the same kind of reserve you need to tap for the last bit of the race to the goal.

Reaching your goal starts out slow and steady. But, as you progress, the effort increases and fatigue increases. The obstacles will seem larger and more frequent. Don’t give up! Forward, as long as you are moving forward, you are on the path to success. When you are ready to give up, don’t, move one step forward. The more discouraging and the more obstacles you encounter, the closer you are to the finish line – keep going.

I am dyslectic and I wanted to graduate from college. I learned to read at 17, you guessed it the schools just passed me along after giving up. I did graduate from high school with the admonition from the guidance counselor that I didn’t deserve it but they were just glad to get rid of me. The goal, for me, was to graduate college and I had a lot of work to do. Now that I could read, I did. I re-educated myself and 20 years after I graduated from high school, I graduated from college on the honor roll with a Bachelor of Science degree in education.

It’s not all hard work and exhaustion. Once a goal is set and you put it as your number one priority something else happens. You will be more aware of events around you that will help you reach your goal. In some ways it’s like the heavens are trying to help you. This is amazing. I’ll give you an example. Living in a very small town of 399 souls in the 90’s with teenage children made concerts and current rock star concerts a distant possibility. MTV was on, and my children glued to it. I talk a lot about goals and goal setting so my son gave me a challenge to get back stage passes to a rock concert and meet the band. Ok, we set it as a goal. In the college town 30 miles away the band with the number 1 song on the radio was going to give a concert. I got tickets. I did some research on the band and found they liked a product made in the area and would most likely tour the factory. I called the factory and sure enough, the tour was scheduled, I offered to take pictures and the deal was set. Goal reached. It took almost 6 months for circumstances to align and lots of near misses, but keeping the goal in mind and taking a step forward every day ensured success.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What is a Goal

What is a Goal?  Do you know? Are you willing to: Work – Spend Time – Acquire the Skill?

We have all kinds of goals we think, but do we? Well no, we don’t. What we have are events we would like to happen.

Have you ever said: “Oh, that sounds good, I could do that.” Or: “If only I was (fill in the blank) then I’d be (happy, rich, in charge). This is wishful thinking and not goals. What I’m talking about here are personal goals and not goals you boss gives you. Business goals have penalties attached to them as motivators. The only penalty with personal goals is that you just won’t achieve them.

Look at the goals you want to achieve, are you willing to do work and spend time to achieve them? If you are not, if you are too busy with other things and this goal is always at the bottom of your to do list, it is not a goal. Save yourself time and effort and discard the goal.

That’s not quite fair; life has a million ways to derail reaching our goals. There is always something to get in the way; kids, work, weather, car, home repairs, illness, the list is endless. There is always a reason why. My brother, who is goal driven and very successful, has a wonderful saying “It’s always someone else’s fault isn’t it”.

Your job is to reach your goal in spite of the everyday distractions. My goal driven brother is an excellent example of how to reach your goals. He is always reaching for another goal and every spare moment he has is spent in reaching that goal. When he comes to dinner parties, he comes with a book he is researching. When he is not a part of the conversation he slips away and dives into the book, maybe he will have 10 minutes or ½ and hour but he is that much closer to reaching his goal. He also carries a notebook or PDA to jot down thoughts during these spare moments.

How to identify a “real” goal

Goals have identifiers that make them goals.

1. You are willing to put in work to reach the goal.

2. The goal is something you are willing to acquire the skills to achieve the goal.

3. The goal is on the top of your to do list so you will spend time working toward it.

If your goal fits all three criteria, you have a real goal, go for it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Key to Successful Goal Setting - Skill, Scope and Urgency

Want to achieve your goal? Using - Skill, Scope and Urgency - you can and here's how.

Job interviewers always ask "Where do you want to be in 5 years?" Most of us know but the answer would not please the interviewer. Goal setting is a important skill that we pay little attention to and then wonder why we don't get where we want to go.

Set goals, duh, but how?  It's really simple and here are the steps.

You need three components to make goal setting successful - Skill, Scope and Urgency .
   Skill - This is the first question to ask, do I have the skills necessary to achieve this goal. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about talent. If you're not a surgeon, you can't do brain surgery. If you are not an opera singer, you can still sing a song.

   Scope - Define how big your goal is. The scope of your goal will have a direct impact on the urgency component. I want to dig a trench from Chicago to Milwaukee using a hand shovel will not be possible because you will run out of lifetime before your goal is completed.

   Urgency - The time you want to complete your goal or the date you want it completed by (remember the "Where do you want to be" question?). The scope of your goal will in some way determine the urgency. I want to meet Paul McCartney tomorrow will not be attainable if tomorrow you are in New York, and Paul McCartney is in Liverpool.

 Lets look at writing a book. 

I want to write a murder mystery.

What skill set do I need?  I need to know how to write or dictate. OK, I can do that so I have the skills.

I want to write a murder mystery in 3 months. Good, now how long will this book be? I need to set the size or scope of the goal I want to reach. I could write a 3 page book but it is most likely I want to write a book of more than one chapter and probably over 100 pages.

Steps to reaching the goal of writing a murder mystery book of more than one chapter and more that 100 pages. I want to add an upper limit to the goal to keep it manageable. More that 100 but less that 500 pages will work.

Think of any goal as a journey, the steps represent the forward momentum to the achievement of the goal. 

Steps for writing a murder mystery: 
1. Define characters
2. Set plot line
3. Choose a setting for the story to take place in
4. Outline the structure.
5. Write the book
6. Proof the book

I have 3 months to write my book, I can now determine how much time I should spend on each of my steps.  Start with the most time consuming step, the actual writing.  The book will have multiple pages (100 or more) so I will need to spend most of my time writing.  I can't know how to divide my time up until I have completed steps 1 through 4.  These steps will determine how I define my time to write the book.

OK, I have done the work of steps 1 - 4 and I am 3 weeks into my project. I have 9 weeks left.  My outline defines 7 chapters. Here is how steps 5 and 6 will break down:
5. Write the book - One chapter per week to complete all 7 chapters in 7 weeks
6. Proof the book - Proof the book in 2 weeks

So 12 weeks later I have a mystery book written.

Any goal that complies with the elements of  - Skill, Scope and Urgency  - can be achieved in this manor.