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Goal setting season is here; it’s the time of year where you reflect back and see how you measured up.
And at the same time, you’re in the zone, ready to crush some new goals in the new year.
Motivation is high, your gusto has you sailing into the new year and then… NOTHING. You hit a wall, you’re feeling zapped, burnout and no longer mentally connected to that goal you set months ago.
You might shrug it off, so what? Goal setting is just a feel-good exercise, if you hit them great, if not, oh well. Or you’re left feeling down in the dumps, defeated that you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do.
Either way, you’ve lost.
You lost time and energy working towards something and have nothing to show for it. In fact, the more you think about it, who and what did you lose in your attempt to gain? What was the ripple effect?
Let’s take an example…
Did you set a health goal of shedding some extra pounds last year? If you didn’t follow through, did that make for a bad year? Maybe you were determined to work hard for a promotion but didn’t get it and that chipped away at your self-worth?
Goal setting is good, it’s healthy, it gives us something to work towards and feels great… when we achieve them. What about when we fail?
If you fail to achieve your goals, where does that leave you? How has it impacted your happiness? Your family? Job? Kids? Are you left feeling burnt out?
Likely that personal goal you set, the one you may have fallen short on, impacted more than just you. The impact radius may have extended to your family and friends.
If you are setting a goal that doesn’t support a larger purpose, you are spinning your wheels towards something that will ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled.
Temporarily, it may feel good to lose 10 lbs, but at what cost?
Did you have to increase gym time which cut into family time? Did that leave less time to prepare healthy meals? Were you easily irritated if your weight fluctuated or no progress was made?
I’m not saying that making a goal to lose weight is bad. It all comes down to your approach.
Shift Your Approach
Here’s an example of how your goal shifts when you have a mission. If part of your mission is to strive for healthiness and be a present and engaged Mom, then you make a goal about incorporating fitness into your family life that supports this path.
It doesn’t come at the expense of family time. It’s an attainable goal that complements the lifestyle you are after.
With this approach, you commit to flexible workouts and not numbers on the scale. You work on teaching your kids how to prepare healthy meals together. Maybe you start a garden? Incorporate a run while your kids ride bikes?
Forget Perfect, Embrace Flexible
You won’t get that optimal 30-minute run 5 days a week and that’s OK because in exchange you’re working towards something greater: a healthy family lifestyle.
Blindly making a goal of meeting XYZ without knowing the full set of consequences may be setting you up for indirect failure. And that indirect failure may be more harmful to your happiness and those around you than you were ever aware of.
So my thoughts are, goals are only good when the outcome is win-win. If goals come at the cost of your family’s quality of life, it’s a short-term win and a long-term loss.
If you meet expectations or have a setback or simply no progress is made, then how have your goals helped you become better?
Was it even worth it to set them?
Learning from Failure
You might say you could learn from your shortcomings. If you fail on your goal, you could spin it into a learning experience, right?
Jason Fried, author of ReWork, would disagree:
Failure is not a prerequisite for success. A Harvard Business School study found already-successful entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed again (the success rate for their future companies is 34%). But entrepreneurs whose companies failed the first time had almost the same follow-on success rate as people starting a company for the first time: just 23%. People who failed before have the same amount of success as people who have never tried at all. Success is the experience that actually counts.
We are conditioned to believe that we must fail to learn, but if we have a track record of succeeding the chances that we continue to achieve high levels of success are much higher than if we fail.
So what does this mean for your goals? You must set yourself goals that align you towards a win-win. To do so, you must have a grasp on your mission. Know where you are going, learn from past successes, know your strengths and build off of that. Take baby steps. Set weekly goals instead of annual goals.
It’s easier and more realistic to keep the momentum going in weekly increments. Plus, you’ll have yourself a recipe for compounding success!
If you have to wait a full year before you measure up then you can’t fully realize your progress. A lot changes in a year too, things come up that interrupt plans, so keep the wins weekly and adjust as needed.
Why Goals Don’t Work
Scrap the grand gesture of new year resolutions and goal writing.
Take a step back and craft a mission statement. This can be a personal statement, family statement or both.
Having a mission statement grounds you. It ties you to your principles and values. It contains the stuff you find important in life and heavily influences your happiness levels.
Knowing what you and your family stand for is a powerful tool. It’s the base to living an intentional life. It tells you what you can and cannot compromise on.
How can you set goals without knowing your mission? You’ve got to have a sense of who you are to know where you going and what you kind of life you want to lead.
Once you’re firm in your mission, then you can bring in goals that will support you and the lifestyle you aim to achieve. And don’t worry, expect your mission to evolve as you grow, remember to refresh and tweak as you progress, move through milestones and big events.
An Age Old Dilemma
As the new year looms around the corner, the weight of achieving a better work-life balance grows heavier. New year, stronger focus, it just seems natural that you would dig in and commit to making a better balance going forward.
This might even be a goal of yours.
The challenge is, a lot of us are making this gesture as a goal, not a mission. You buy planners, fancy schedulers, and maybe even invest in a time-management course or two. These things are not the problem, they may be great tools, it’s all in the approach.
You view work-life balance as a goal, one that can be fixed by a product or service. These products and services may certainly help but they will not get to the root.
Ask yourself, do you want to be remembered by having to schedule a work-life balance? Is that attainable over a long period of time?
No, of course not. If your mission is not aligned, you’re bound to fall back into old habits like saying yes to overtime work and one too many play-dates.
Work-life balance is not a goal to be checked off. It’s got to be a well-defined driving desire.
Living a balanced life has a different meaning for everyone. For some, that means to slow down in your job or take a career break.
For others, it’s all about growing your career while dedicating quality time to your family.
You see, a planner does not help you live the balance you want, but it certainly may aid you in reaching it.
If you are full-time working Mom, maybe you use a planner to block off a family movie or game night. What the planner won’t do is tell you it’s time to leave work at 5 PM or put down your work phone when you are home. Only you will draw that line because the heart of your mission is to dedicate uninterrupted time to your family.
Setup Your Mission
Let your mission fit your style. Love bullet journals? Write it up in there. Want to type it up as a formal outline? Go for it.
What I don’t want to do is provide you too much structure. It’s not about getting caught up in the technical details, your mission needs to fit you and your family’s principles and values.
Here are a few questions to prompt your writing:
- What are you passionate about and wish to achieve?
- How do you wish to impact those closest to you?
- Why? What is the reason behind your passion and drive?
- What do you want people to remember you for?
I would love to hear your thoughts? Is this new information? Something your excited to try? Let me know in the comments!