Are you a relentless achiever?
If so, you have most likely conquered many remarkable milestones, both personally and professionally. If you're anything like many of my clients, you're actually an impressive record-breaker, who sets the bar for everyone else.
You likely have multiple degrees and certifications, have founded a business, or helped build one. You are an innovator, a movement starter, a voice of experience, and an expert in your field. When others are just sitting down to build their strategy and set their top goals, you’re already reaching for the next one.
Did that sound like you?
Maybe you wish it was?
Are you hoping I can give you the secret to becoming that kind of overnight success story?
Well, here’s the secret: I have just as many clients who come to me suspecting there is something wrong with them because their goals seem to take forever to reach – or are even unattainable.
When they start working with me, their journey to achievement has been more of an exercise in frustration, obstacles, exhaustion, distraction and a nagging suspicion they are deluding themselves, and should just quit while they are behind.
But that's because they are caught up in the big myth about meaningful goals:
The Myth About Meaningful Goals
The most common myth I see, both with hyper-achievers, as well as those who struggle daily to even inch towards a goal, is that reaching the goal is everything.
The myth is:
Reach the goal and you have achieved.
Don’t reach the goal, you have failed.
In truth, not every goal is attainable. And even if you do attain it, there is always another goal in front of you. The journey doesn’t end. The key for the high-achievers and those who feel they are not, is to learn from the process of working towards the goal.
Too philosophical for you? Well, psychology has studied the science of goal-setting. In Locke’s theory of goal-setting, challenging goals are more motivational than easy ones. If the goal attainment was the only important thing, it would make sense to go for the easy ones – at least at first. But those aren’t as inspiring! Although the best goals do need to be realistic and attainable, we crave improving our previous performance and setting challenging tasks. That’s in our nature. That means the important part of our goals is the learning we are required to do in order to reach them. And learning is what provides the meaning – more so than the goal itself.
Maintaining Momentum with Meaningful Goals
The process of reaching a challenging goal can be long, and difficult. So, what's the secret sauce for maintaining momentum while keeping your energy and your sanity intact? The solution lies in viewing each goal as a stepping stone in a grander journey, not as the ultimate destination. When you are able to shift into that mindset, you begin setting goals that genuinely excite you for the personal development and growth they provide, irrespective of their outcomes. These goals are the ones rooted in your inner motivations, not dictated by external pressures.
For example, imagine you publish that book you've always dreamt of, but it doesn't fly off the shelves. Instead of losing your joy, you strategically explore what you've learned through the writing and the marketing of the book. Did it resonate with your audience? Was it meaningful for growing your business and giving you great content to share on podcasts and speaking platforms?
As you gain insights, you know better how to progress into your next goal. You do this by acknowledging your achievements, pausing for some well-deserved rest, and then charting your course forward with the information you now have.
How to Make Goals Meaningful
Many of us have a mental list of goals, but the busyness of life often prevents us from formalizing them. Effective goals not only focus on what you want to achieve, but also reduce stress and chaos in the process. They reduce the stress of inner lack of clarity, indecision, and reacting to emergencies that tend to consume us when they are not planned for through a strategy. They unplanned emergencies feed an insidious chaos loop, where the leader is unable to pause and be strategic because they are too busy handling the emergencies caused by their lack of strategy. Yikes.
Here are two formulas to consider:
🎯 Goals = Achieving (either through accomplishment or key learning)
❌ No goals = Operating (treading water in your business, with little clarity on what you could or should change in order to get ahead of it)
But here's the real kicker: goals aren't just about numbers, profitability, and productivity. They're about what motivates you to jump out of bed each morning. Without that intrinsic drive, profit and productivity come at too high a cost in terms of stress and strain.
So, here are some strategies to help you define your path:
Reflect on what truly matters beyond business: your work-life balance, family, community, service, spirituality, and fitness.
Define an inspiring, ambitious, and qualitative objective that excites you.
Align your business plan with the lifestyle you desire, both short-term and long-term.
Embrace OKR (Objective Key Result) methodology to set ambitious objectives and measurable benchmarks for tracking progress.
Set quarterly and annual deadlines for your key results.
Identify the one thing that will have the most significant impact on your goals and focus on it.
Regularly check in with your goals: daily, weekly, and quarterly. Make them non-negotiable.
The Measure of Meaningful Goals
Measuring the meaning contained within your goals is a subjective and personal process, as the significance of goals can vary greatly from one individual to another. However, there are some steps and approaches you can consider to assess and measure the meaning of your goals:
Reflection and Self-Assessment: Take some time for introspection. Ask yourself why a particular goal is important to you. What values, beliefs, or aspirations does it align with? The depth of personal connection you feel to a goal can indicate its meaning.
Emotional Impact: Pay attention to your emotional response when you think about or work toward a goal. Goals that evoke strong positive emotions like excitement, passion, and fulfillment are often more meaningful.
Alignment with Values: Consider whether your goals align with your core values and principles. Goals that are in harmony with what you believe in tend to be more meaningful and fulfilling.
Long-Term Satisfaction: Think about whether achieving the goal will bring you long-term satisfaction and happiness. Some goals may provide short-term gratification but lack long-term meaning.
Intrinsic Motivation: Assess whether you are intrinsically motivated to pursue the goal, meaning you are doing it because you genuinely enjoy it or find it fulfilling, rather than solely for external rewards or validation.
Impact on Others: Consider how your goals may impact not just your life but also the lives of others. Goals that have a positive effect on your community, family, or society at large often carry more meaning.
Personal Growth and Learning: Evaluate whether pursuing the goal challenges you, encourages personal growth, or offers opportunities for learning and development. Goals that stretch you and help you evolve tend to be more meaningful.
Life Purpose and Legacy: Reflect on whether achieving the goal contributes to your sense of life purpose and the legacy you want to leave behind. Meaningful goals often align with these broader life aspirations.
Visualize Success: Try to visualize what success would look like for each of your goals. Imagine how achieving the goal would make you feel and how it would impact your life. The vividness of this mental image can provide insights into the goal's meaning.
Seek Feedback: Talk to trusted friends, mentors, or advisors about your goals. They may offer valuable perspectives and insights on the meaning and significance of your goals.
Keep a Journal: Maintain a journal where you record your thoughts and feelings about your goals as you work toward them. This can help you track your evolving perception of their meaning.
Evaluate Over Time: Recognize that the meaning of goals can evolve as you progress in life. What is deeply meaningful to you today may change in the future, so periodically reassess your goals and their significance.
Remember that not all goals actually need to have profound meaning; some can be purely practical or short-term. The key is to strike a balance between meaningful, purpose-driven goals and those that serve immediate needs. Ultimately, the meaning of your goals is a highly personal and subjective aspect of your journey, and it can provide a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that goes beyond mere achievement.
If you are ready to amplify your goals, now is the perfect time to do it. Join me for an upcoming Goal Setting VIP Day - a day for just you, or for your team. You pick the date and time that works for you. Pay in full, or over a 90-day period. Reserve your spot now.