Most people think of goals as a one sentence statement which labels a bullseye to hit within a specified time.  If the time frame is non-existent then there’s not real impetus to reach the goal, but no real negative for not doing so other than it didn’t get done.  If the time frame is too short then we’re either stressed or “under the gun” and it becomes the number one priority in life or, as is more often the case, we are set up to fail and even if we do try instead of becoming overwhelmed and giving up we still don’t meet the goal and certainly don’t meet it the way we had imagined.

So as we’re setting our intentions and goals for 2015 let’s do so in a way that supports us in achieving them instead of becoming part of the problem.

#1 – Goals aren’t a one sentence statement.  Saying I want to be an airline pilot is not a goal, it’s an outcome and a very general direction to head in life.  There are quite a number of goals that will be involved in achieving this and only some of them will fit in any given year.  In setting goals we need to move beyond the outcome to the action items.  These are the goals to set.

#2 – Goals come in small/medium/large sizes. Not all goals are created equal. Working backwards from the outcome, list out the goals that need to be achieved to make it happen.  Kinda like making a supplies list for a craft project.  Then look at each piece and see if it needs to be broken down further.  If you need a degree or certification of some kind there are probably a number of goals within that which need to be met including getting the necessary supplies, getting accepted to the program, making it possible for you to meet all the requires which might possibly include relocating, etc.  Some goals might be very simple such as going and getting paint so you can pain the interior of your house or getting the correct tool so you can fix that thing which has been nagging for too many years.  Start from the top and work your way down until you have an entire life of all the goals and sub goals that you can foresee. (You don’t know what you don’t know and there’s only so much that research can do to help you. Life in its unfolding will open up new possibilities and challenges so your goal list should always be flexible).

#3 – Goals come in short/medium/long-term time frames. We like short-term goals because we get immediate gratification.  We like long-term goals because they come with some of the biggest and most gratifying rewards.  We pretty much suck at the medium term goals.  They take too long to be really fun, but they seem like a lot of work for not enough reward.  Long term goals give us a direct to go and are usually tied to our identity and how we intentionally shape our life, but they don’t help us in the day-to-day and can actually feel like a burden or torment the longer we work on them.  Short term goals are like carbs or sugar, they are great in the moment but we feel let down the next.  The happy never lasts for long and we don’t notice where the repetition of them is leading us because they keep us focused on one step at a time rather than the road ahead.  So what is needed is a healthy mix of all three.  Long term goals should be broken into medium term goals which, if possible, should be broken into short-term steps.  A good mix leaves you feeling accomplished, connects you to the bigger pictures and allows you to see progress along the way.

Ok, you may now go back to your fad diets, the martial arts class you thought was a good idea to start, and how far have you gotten into War & Peace?….