How You Set Goals

You may know if you’ve been around for a while that January is just one of a few times each year I find to be valuable to check in and talk about goals. To kick-off this month I decided to listen to a TED Talk playlist entitled #goals. It is a relatively short playlist of five talks each no more than 15 minutes. Each talk provided an interesting way to think about goals but there was one talk in the set that stood out to me an exceptionally good, both in the sense that the speaker was engaging and that I really, maybe as a result of his engaging demeanor, bought into what it was that he was saying.

The name of the speaker is Ari Wallach and he talked about the importance of setting goals for the very long term. I bought into this idea because it reinforced what I already think, that is that our goals need to set us up for success in the long term. That our goals and our behavior are not only setting us up for success but are also setting up our families and communities to be successful.

Now goals that might make us feel better about ourselves might be viewed in different ones if we look at the impact they have on others. Many of us set a goal in the new year to lose some weight – it’s a common goal that most of us have. But what does that goal look like year after year to our children? Is the goal to lose that last 10 lbs setting them up to feel good about their bodies? Are we talking about that goal in terms our ability to do things we want to do or is it based solely on looks? These are important questions to ask about our goals.

There were a few other things that I thought were quite valuable as well but didn’t really grab my attention in the way that multi-generational goal setting did.

The very first talk in the playlist is 3 minutes long and in it Derek Sivers argues that if we want to be successful meeting our goals we shouldn’t tell anybody about them. I don’t think we should just have a blanket ban on not telling people about our goals when there are could really benefit from feedback given by an accountability buddy. But how we talk about our goals certainly is important.

The other thing that stood out to me was in the second TED Talk of the playlist. Bel Pesce talked about the importance of putting in the work to reach our goals. Although it may seem like it overnight success is not actually overnight success. Recognizing that what we see and what is true are generally two very different things.

So as we move into 2019 there are three big takeaways for achieving your own personal and professional goals for this year.

1. Consider the impact that your goal will have on others.

2. Modulate how you talk about your goals so that you’re not getting satisfaction from talking about them.

3. Remember that overnight success is not real. You need to work at it constantly and tenaciously to achieve your goal.

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