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April 2024
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Are Your Goals Achievable?

Discover three tips to set yourself up for success.

By Bill Brown, DTM

Hand holding a block with red target and arrows pointing at it

I am a master goal-setter. I’ve listened to all the trainings and applied what I have learned. My goals are specific and measurable. The problem is accomplishing them. Perhaps you can relate.

The question is: Why am I not accomplishing as much as I want to? Recently I stepped back to analyze that question.

The first observation I made is that there are some goals I get totally absorbed in. I work relentlessly and tirelessly on them until I accomplish them. Why? Because those are goals I really want to achieve. I can’t wait to complete them.

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What does that say about the other goals? Maybe I need to weed them out. As I reviewed my goals, I set three criteria for my evaluation.

First, is this a goal that I really want, that I am really committed to, or is it only something I think I should want? If I don’t have a strong motivation to achieve it right now, maybe I need to drop it or, at least, give it a lower priority. If I want to accomplish my goals, I need to focus on the ones that I am really excited about.

Second, I perform better when I have a single focus. That does not mean that I don’t do other tasks. As Vice President Education (VPE) of my Toastmasters club, I have to create the agenda for each meeting, but I also have other responsibilities to take care of. To accomplish all my tasks, I have to pick one and work on it to get it done.

Unfortunately, I am someone who goes through a buffet line and wants one of everything. I am that way with goals, as well. I collect them. And, of course, I want to complete them all immediately. But my goals are never quick tasks. I develop detailed plans of action to accomplish each one and they usually involve major research and development projects. I am an avid reader; therefore, much of that research comes from books. Those books are rarely page-turners. You have to think while you read them, so I set goals to read a certain number of pages per day. No problem—except that I don’t stop with one book or two or three. I keep adding them until I have about 15. And then I am no longer reading for content, I am reading to check it off the list. I start focusing on the process rather than the objective.

If I want to accomplish my goals, I need to focus on the ones that I am really excited about.

I have found that I must limit my reading. Will this book get me to my objective? Or am I reading it just because it sounds interesting? And let me tell you, for a reader like me, limiting my reading is almost as painful as limiting myself to eating just one chocolate chip cookie. Almost, but not quite. If I want to accomplish my goals, I need to focus.

A third criteria is that the goal must align with how I am wired.

I am a creative person and I like to create something new, whether that’s a new project or a new process. Some people enjoy keeping the trains running on time just as they are. I need to lay down track in new directions to stretch my creativity.

The chair of my county’s museum board recently suggested that I run for an open slot. I was tempted. It would place me with a higher visibility in the community and possibly give me more influence over time. But I declined because it was a maintenance type position—it required someone who wanted to keep the trains on the current tracks. The trains were running on time quite well without me. It was a time commitment that I would have found frustrating, and it would have taken me away from something I really wanted to achieve. To accomplish my goals, they need to coincide with who I am and allow me to be creative, so I really enjoy working toward them.

If you find that you are not doing as well as you would like in accomplishing your goals, perhaps you need to step back and look at what you are doing. You may have done a good job creating your goals, but have you set the right ones for you? What goals are you reaching? Where are you falling short? Focus on where you see success and filter out the rest.

You are wired differently than me, so your criteria may be different, but your goal is the same—accomplishment. Let’s make it happen!


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