Image by jean-louis zimmermann via Flickr
The seventh of the 7 things not to do to achieve your goals is to be vague.
- Don’t include “shoulds” – do things because you have an appreciation for the benefit to be gained or the pain to be avoided that is associated with the goal
- Don’t obsess over the bull’s eye – give yourself a range to shoot for instead of a single point. In addition to the target, identify a lesser amount that you would be pleased with. At the same time establish what you would consider a stretch goal.
- Don’t “try” anything - write your goals in a way that identifies the actions you will take, not what you will try to do. In the words of the wise Jedi master, Yoda, “Do or do not … there is no try.”
- Don’t focus on other people – if your goal is dependent upon others, re-write it to only include the action you can directly control.
- Don’t ignore your past performance - if you haven’t been able to accomplish something in th past, it’s not reasonable to expect high performance. Take baby steps if you need to and giant leaps when that is appropriate
- Don’t forget who you are – take your likes, preference, life purpose, etc. in to account when crafting your goals
- Don’t be vague
There are a host of reasons not to be vague in your goal setting. First, goals are intended to provide some sort of guidance or prioritization for where you will spend your time. A goal that is not clearly spelled out will fail to accomplish this. Not only does it not provide you with a sense of knowing what to do, you also will lack a sense of what not to do. This often leads to becoming extremely busy and non-effective at the same time.
Second, vague goals do not provide intrinsic motivation for you to accomplish them. If you cannot articulate a clear and specific goal, your brain doesn’t know how to help you make progress towards it in the background. In fact, you might just be sending your subconscious signals that you have little faith in your ability to accomplish anything specific.
And finally, vague goals usually aren’t clear enough for you to know when the goal has been accomplished. This is how items can remain on your list of goals for years without any progress against them. After awhile, you begin to ignore them completely and they lose any sense of value for being on your list in the first place.
If you aren’t going to craft a specific goal, you are better off not adding it to your list at all, lest its negative impact spill over into your other goals.
Instead, craft specific goals that will give you a sense of what you are specifically trying to accomplish – complete a specific 90 day exercise program versus get fit. Ensure the goal provides sufficient motivation – respond to customer requests within 24 hours versus do a better job with customer service. And make sure you have some way to determine whether the goal has been accomplished – have 6 months of cash reserves versus build some savings.
If you struggle with being specific with crafting the goal, you will struggle much more later when trying to accomplish it. It’s better to put in the effort up front and get specific.