Tuesday, May 24, 2011
A friend called to thank me the other day. Heíd just received his bachelorís degree. When I answered the phone his first words were, ďI called to thank you for helping me learn how to set goals the right way.Ē Tim had been out of school for twenty three years before he made the choice to return to college almost five years ago. He made the decision when he attended a budget meeting at work for the very first time and didnít understand what was going on. He and I talked that afternoon and he told me that he was giving serious thought to returning to school. I asked him what his main motivation was. He told me it wasnít about work, or promotions or the like. He was going to do this for himself. The meeting at work was the push he needed to get going on his goals. If good things happened as a result, even the better but he was doing this to improve himself. I smiled then and I smiled when he called me to let me know heíd reached his goal.
I thought a lot about that journey and I came away with a question: Whose goals are my goals?Ē Itís a pretty popular practice to read an article or a blog and get so motivated by someone elseís success that I become convinced that I need to follow their path. Donít get me wrong, I believe in hanging around with motivated, successful people. But how do you think the world would be if everyone looked and acted the same way? How often do I take a deep breath and take stock of John and where he is going, how he plans to get there and what his motivation is for all the hard work and effort. I can be motivated by your desire to participate in an Iron Man. I will applaud you and grin from ear to ear when you achieve your goal, but personally, it has no meaning to me. Yet, how often do I go careening down the path of following someone else simply because ÖÖÖÖ.. Well I guess because I want to be like everyone else. When I think like that I usually donít reach my goal because it has no personal meaning.
Personalizing our goals and objectives super charge them. My friend Tim reminded me of an exercise I had him do in class one day. I gave each person a poster board and a twelve pack of colored pencils. In the center of the poster board I asked them to draw a goal that had special meaning to them. I encouraged them to make it personal. In the four corners of the poster board I asked them to create four benefits of reaching this goal. I asked them to take it home use it as a guide. Tim told me one the benefits he derived was stressing the value of education to his son. He wanted him to attend college after high school and felt by setting a good example his son might follow suit. (You are who you hang around with!!)
My dear friend MSSUNBUG competed in her very first triathlon Saturday. I was so happy and proud for her. A group of friends had lunch Saturday and after she posted her blog I passed my phone around and showed them her results. They were impressed to say the least. I was happy for her but she and I lead different lives. I can share in her joy but a triathlon isnít on the near horizon for me.
She and Tim caused me to look at something I wasnít really comfortable looking at ---- ME!!! I discovered that when I go off willy-nilly pursuing YOUR goals I am simply delaying the inevitable process of examining myself and working on Johnís issues. Lord knows itís easier to work on yours!!! When I set up unrealistic goals for myself I am all but writing failure across them.
MSSUNBUG probably didnít think about a triathlon before she shed one hundred thirty pounds. She took small incremental steps towards reaching personal and meaningful goals that she designed for herself. It was only then, that a triathlon became a possibility. Tim didnít go out and buy a cap and gown the day after he started school. He made the goal his own and earned it.
When I wonít look at my own goals critically I am basically saying Iím not worth the effort. Itís easier to fail at your goals than to succeed at working hard on my own.
So, whose goals are your goals?