You’ve heard the saying, “The average person spends more time planning a vacation than planning the rest of their life.” It’s probably true because planning a pleasurable escape is easier and more comfortable than planning change, and whatever discomfort (fears?) may be associated with it.
Most companies you’d consider investing in or working for have long term, short term and, in most cases, daily goals as benchmarks of performance. However, independent contractors associated with large focused corporations, usually don’t do the planning to create their own comfortable future.
Most all independent contractors either sit down with the owner/broker/ sale manager/boss at the beginning of the year or as solopreneurs, by themselves, and go over goals and business/game plans. But like New Year’s resolutions, by January 15th, they lose focus and end up playing a smaller and more chaotic game than anticipated. This is not just about the business of business, but it’s also about the personal areas of life, as well. And this is not just about business and personal lives, but ultimately about the way they see them- selves (self image/self esteem) and create the lifestyle that matches that perception…self fulfilling prophesies.
The “whys?” don’t matter. The back story may be very interesting and compelling, but does “why?” solve the problem of an erratic business or personal life? The question, “What DO you want instead?” is a good starting point. Not what you Don’t want. Describing what you DON’T want doesn’t give information as to actions to be taken to move forward. Goals are not just targets, they’re guidelines.
There are so many ideas and systems about goal setting. Every speaker, sales manager and trainer has an approach. Know what? They all prob- ably work, if the follow-through is committed to. Huge “IF” (I FEAR).
Here’s my offering at setting long term personal and business goals. The best way to predict the future is to create it.
1. Select a target year by which your long term (more than 1 year) goals will be completed. Giving a target date, even 3-5 years down the road, creates at least a small, but real, sense of urgency. Just the act of writing goals down starts a level of thought and commitment beyond having good intentions. Write the target year across the top of a blank piece of paper.
2. Along the left hand column, going down the page, write the categories of your life that represents the balance and self image areas that comprise all of our lives. In her book, Passages, Gail Sheehy lists Physical, Financial, Emotional, Educational, Family, Social and Spiritual. Unless you have something else—go with these.
3. On the right hand side of the page, opposite each of the categories, write down 2 or 3 goals for each category. If you choose to not set goals in all areas, great! Do what feels right for you. There are no rules.
If you have difficulty looking ahead and projecting results, for a moment look back at your previous 3-5 years. What have you done in that time to move ahead in each of these 7 areas? “If you continue to do what you’ve been doing, you’ll continue to get what you’ve been getting.” The reality beyond that often used saying is that in the future, Mother Nature will smack us all around a little harder, gravity will tug on us all a little bit heavier, business slumps will become more pronounced, memory becomes more challenging and spiritual connections become even more distant, etc. What do you want instead?
4. Put this goals list in a place that makes sense to you… in a draw under your socks or underwear, taped to the back of a closet door etc.
5. Look at the list every once in a while (daily, weekly ???) and let it reinforce the actions that will bring you to those, down the road, purposes. Spaced repetition is how you learn most of what you do.
6. Update your list periodically to reflect new directions and adjustments.
Accomplishing longer term goals not only gives the rewards of whatever the goals are about, but on a higher level creates the positive self esteem and confidence of accomplishment. Confidence comes from creating victories. Those in therapy, or should be in therapy, experience control issues (usually a lack of control). When you’re in control of your life you generally make better decisions, feel more alive and healthy and usually become a more compelling figure to those around you.
By Barry Eisen