A Little Goal Setting Exercise that Can Change Your Life
“One reason why people don’t achieve their goals is because they don’t know what part of them choose the goal.” ~ John Kehoe
Let me tell you a little story…
“A man took a ladder, put it next to a wall and started climbing. He climbed as fast as he could. His legs were constantly slipping, a few times he almost fell. Yet he kept on climbing… When his physical exhaustion started to take over, his hand finally reached the top of the wall. Regaining his strength, he made the last effort to push himself up and sit down. But as he looked around, his smile faded and a paralyzing thought crept in to his soul, “It is the wrong wall!”
Similar, we often choose to pursue a goal that we think we want and spend weeks, months, and even years accomplishing it. But after the initial excitement wears off, we are left feeling strangely empty, tired and disoriented, because we realize that our accomplishments have not made us any happier.
It is hard to explain why we spend so much time in learning all the goal setting how-to’s, planning, visualizing, making sure that we have all the right tools to secure our success, but completely forget to check if our goal is aligned with our value, passions, character, desired lifestyle and life purpose.
I see people, climbing the wrong wall all the time: a lawyer, who dreams to be a writer; a student who slacks off in college, because he is not interested in studying economy or business; a housewife, who does not feel appreciated for her efforts and dreams about having more independence; a top manager, who is going through a divorce, because his personal life shattered while he was making his career. All these people made the same mistake at some point – they chose a goal that they thought they SHOULD WANT instead of taking time to reflect on what is it that they TRULY WANT.
If you want more in life than just leading a comfortable lifestyle, if you are unsure what goal to pursue, if you are tired of other people telling you what you should and should not want, if you cannot seem to stick to your goal for more than two weeks, it is time to figure out the goals that are right for you!
How to divide core desires from superficial wants?
There is a powerful, yet easy to do exercise that helps you to choose goals that are worth pursuing, without having to read tons of self-help books or attending costly workshops. All you need is a pen, paper and 30 -45 minutes of your uninterrupted time.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Take a piece of paper and write down everything that you would like to achieve or get. Do not analyze any of your goals or wishes or cross them off your list, no matter how small or insignificant the goal seems to you. Just keep answering the question, “What do I want?” Keep brainstorming until you empty your mind completely. You should have between 20 and 30 goals on your list.
2. After you have finished writing, set your wish list aside and get back to your house chores or tasks on your to-do list.
3. Pick up your list the next morning. Read the first goal/desire on your wish list, stop and ask yourself, “Is it what I truly desire? Will it make me my life any happier?” Do not rationalize your answers. Listen to your heart and your intuition. The first spontaneous response is usually the right one! If the answer is “yes!” put a “+”next to that goal. But if a goal seems attractive to your mind, but leaves your heart intact put a “–“ next to it. After this, move to the second goal and repeat the same procedure again.
4. Reread your wish list every morning for about 30 days, each time asking yourself the same question “Is it what I truly want?”
5. After 30 days you should have a list with 30 “+” and “-“ next to each goal. You will notice that some of your goals have a lot of “+”, while others have mostly “-“. Choose the 3-5 goals with the most + and put a star next to them. These are your core goals that you should concentrate your efforts on, because they will bring you the most satisfaction and the biggest positive life changes. The rest of your desires may not be worthy of your time.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar