Successful goal setters are a lot like professional athletes. Professional athletes are not paid big dollars for their skills before they have developed and proven their worth. You are born with exceptional skills, but have you developed and proven them? You see many of us have never really learned proper goal setting techniques, nor developed the skills to become professional goal setters. And if you have, I am guessing that you do not practice these skills enough and analyze them enough to maintain the professional expectations. Now if I am wrong, I am honored to have you reading my blog!
If you have ever used google maps or mapquest you are aware of the two key questions they ask if you want directions: starting location and destination. These are the same questions I ask my clients in helping them calculate the directions for their end destinations: their goals. In successful goal setting, you must answer where are you now and where do you want to go.
Now the next step in our road trip is checking our vehicle and planning for any road hazards that we may encounter. This involves maintaining our vehicle before the trip and considering possible problems we may encounter. Before family vacations my father would always get the oil changed, the tires inspected, check the spare, and have the fluids topped off. He was much better at this than I, so I belong to AAA and know that help is only a phone call away. My dad would have made a great pilot. He went through a similar pre-flight checklist that any pilot goes through before taking flight. OK, so how do we do this in our road trip of life? Well it involves considering any obstacles or self limiting beliefs we may have. It means assessing the final destination and considering things that may prevent us from reaching that destination. Now what can you do to check the spare and get the oil changed? Assess the skills you currently have that may need to be used to achieve this goal. Figure out what new skills or resources you may need to acquire to reach this destination, and take steps to get them. Who can you call if you run into trouble? Who can act as your triple A?
On family road trips my mother acted as the Julie, the activities director. She packed things for us kids to do along the way. She was quick to suggest a game for us all to play, like the alphabet road sign game, to keep us quiet. She was the voice of reason on when we NEEDED to stop for food and bathroom breaks. The point is, consider who are your travel companions on this road trip. Who will be impacted by this decision? Which travel companions will help you and which ones are along for the ride regardless?
Finally, figure out where you need to stop for gas and where you are sleeping each night. Break your trip down to smaller, easily achieved legs. You do not want to drive straight through on long trips, especially if you are traveling with others. Shorter legs are safer. Shorter legs help ensure you will survive the trip and enjoy the destination once you arrive. Once you have broken the trip down into smaller legs it is important to realize that all of the previous steps need to be taken for each leg of the trip.
Do you know the way to Carnegie Hall?
Any professional athlete will tell you, practice makes all the difference. As I wrote in a previous entry (How to Get Started) practice involves more than just going through the actions. Practice involves attitude, visualizations, going through the motions, failure, and adaptation. A lot like riding a bike, trial and error can be effective, but more than likely destructive without support and encouragement. So it goes with goal setting, you will need lots of support, encouragement and skinned knees (trial and error). But remember, you must get back on and keep practicing.
Ever notice how much more exciting it is to drive on long trips when there are other cars on the road? When there is nothing but open road, it appears nice, but quickly your mind loses focus. And after we have been driving a while we get drowsy and the car begins to weave. We will often turn the radio up, unroll the windows or call friends. Life has a way of doing that when we begin to go through challenges alone. We are excited at first and we speed on our way, but we quickly lose focus. Then we spend a bunch a bunch of time and effort just trying to get back focused. Well I suggest find some cars to put on the road with you. Preferably ones that are heading toward the same destination as you.
Professional athletes compete. They participate as members of teams. Even solo athletes, professional golfers, tennis players, cyclists and Nascar drivers have teams. They surround themselves with people that share their goals and people that demand their best. Cyclists and race car drivers practice a technique call drafting. In drafting, two or more vehicles can race faster when lined up front-to-rear than a single vehicle can race alone. Even the lead car benefits from reduced energy expenditure from less drag. Professional goal setters do the same thing. They meet regularly with their teams, they meet with mastermind groups, and report to their coaches. They align themselves to draft the leaders in their organizations or better yet, allow others to draft off of them. They know that by practicing and supporting each other, they all have a better chance at finishing on top. It is easier to maintain focus when the other cars are going similar speeds and heading in the same direction.
I am sure that successful goal setters visit their ophthalmologist regularly, but that is not what I am talking about here. My neighbor and I were talking one afternoon about fishing the next day. I asked him if he had the following day off from work and he told me he was going to call in because of his eye problem. Concerned I asked him about it. He said, “Yeah I just can’t see myself going in.”
Often our biggest obstacle is ourselves. Not consciously, but frequently that little voice in our head or our subconscious sabotages much of our success because it can’t see us making more than $50,000 a year or it can see us as 30 pounds lighter. Prescott Lecky talks about this as our own self-definition or self-conception. If you limit how you see yourself, all the other preparations and exercises will not work.
The next eye problem we need to be concerned about is losing our objective view. When you look into a scope at a target you are focusing your attention only on the target. You lose your peripheral vision, like a horse running with blinders on. The danger of this is we often miss the roadsigns of life. We miss the opportunities around us and neglect many of the “other” aspects of our life. Imagine yourself sitting at a stop sign, in the pitch black of night, waiting to turn onto the highway of life, but you can only see the 10 feet of light directly in front of you that your headlights cast on the road. What if another car is coming? This limited scope can paralyze us into inaction.
The treatment is pretty much the same for both of these diseases, regular check ups and full doses of an outsiders perspective. Find a coach or mentor. Meet with them regularly. Get involved with professional organizations and mastermind groups. Professional goal setters attend seminars and read books to help them grow and stretch.
Finally, perform self examinations. First close your right eye. Now your left eye. You see we often we see clearer with our eyes shut. Can you see the big picture? Can you clearly see yourself accomplishing this goal? Can you see the details? What do you hear?
It has been proven that your mind cannot distinguish between reality and a vivid image created in your mind. Visualization is an important technique and helpful in keeping an accurate perspective. Visualize the end in sight. Visualize the next step. Listen for the sounds you hear. Become aware of situations where you are telling yourself that you just don’t see it happening. Then stop that talk in your head. But closing your eyes to assess where you are mentally and to visualize where you are going is one of the most essential habits of professional goal setters. This review of your situation can allow you to correct course and the more often you do it, the less likely you are to get too far off course.
A quick review:
Know where you are starting from and know your destination
- Plan for Obstacles and know your resources
- Break it down
- Ally yourself with others with similar Goals and Find a Coach or Mentor
- Review and Re-assess frequently