Goal Setting: Finding the Balance Between Clarity and Control
Aaaahhhh Goal Setting...I am the first to admit that I get a little giddy just thinking about it. I LOVE taking the time to think about what I want to achieve and how to get there.
But I've noticed in the past few years that sometimes my planning can get the best of me and actually be my downfall. Goal setting is an art; here's why:
There is a delicate balance between gaining clarity and direction from planning and setting goals and controlling your every move so that things just don't happen organically.
Flexibility is key here. Now I'm not saying goal setting is bad...anything but! It is a wonderful practice that can keep you on track and focused. But sometimes we don't achieve goals exactly as we planned...and that's OKAY!
It took me quite awhile to be okay with that. To release some of the control I was holding on to about my goals and the ideal way to reach them was challenging to say the least. But you know what? Now that I have struck a balance between clarity and control, my life is playing out in spectacular ways that I would have never expected or planned...even better than my plans were, truly.
Sometimes the Universe (or God or Karma or your Mom or whatever you believe) has a more creative outcome in store for you than you could have ever come up with yourself. It is important to be willing to accept these unexpected turns and wicked awesome outcomes.
So how does one strike this delicate balance between clarity and control? Try this:
Be Clear, But Not Crystal
You've all heard of SMART goals I'm sure. This is a great place to start. Setting goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely makes sure that you are taking the time to be real and genuine with what you want and how you get there.
I also suggest creating goals both in the short term and in the long term. It can often help to start by looking at what you want 3 or 5 years from now and then breaking it down into what needs to happen each year. The smaller you break it down, the more likely you are to achieve it.
I believe that the most important thing to consider when setting goals is knowing WHY this is a goal for you. Having a WHY is essential to having the motivation and drive needed to complete a goal. Are you feeling like you should have this as a goal because someone else or society told you so? Shoulds are not allowing my goal setting...and I suggest you steer clear away from them yourself!
Hold Yourself Comfortably Accountable
Now that you took the time to plan and really think about the motivations behind your goals, it is time to take action. I can't even count how many times I have set goals for myself and never even taken more than a few steps to get there...it is demoralizing and a total accountability problem.
Figure out what works for you. How do you hold yourself accountable to completing what you set out to do? Does it help to share with a friend and have an accountabilibuddy? Maybe there is a group in your area that meets regularly to help keep each other on track.
Don't be lazy. If you have your WHY for each goal, it should be easy to find the motivation to keep taking action. If you can't seem to find this motivation, it might be time to re-evaluate your WHY and get honest with yourself to make the right adjustments.
Re-Evaluate (and Open Your Mind)...Often!
Speaking of re-evaluating...I believe this is an essential step in achieving any goal. I'll go for some SMARTR(re-evaluate) goals, if you will.
Things change. You change. Your plans change. Your support system and belief systems change. You learn so much every day you are on this earth. To be real, sometimes life takes a 180 and flips you on your head and sometimes change is subtle. However it happens, life brings change and so having flexibility in your goals is essential.
For example, maybe your goal was to find and afford a new apartment in NYC by next year and you were working hard to save and plan for your new life. But then you are offered your dream job...in San Francisco, not NYC. This is a huge opportunity that the Universe has offered you and new possibilities are now available to you. It's time to re-evaluate and adjust your goals accordingly and not hold any grudge about those changes...they can be SO fun.
New possibilities and ideas are the spice of life. They keep things interesting and keep you engaged in what you do on a daily basis. Be willing to see these and integrate them into your goals and plans as needed...you will be MUCH happier for it.
I hope this gave you a little insight into how I plan and think about goals and goal setting and how I have learned to strike the perfect balance between clarity and control. I encourage you to set aside time for you think about what YOU want and to make sure that your goals are aligned with those truths. Your long term happiness and purpose depends on it.
Be sure to check out some of my goal planning and life organization resources here to see if they can help you get and stay on track. I specifically created the Balanced Goals Checklist (pictured below) from the tips offered in this article to help you be clear, but not too controlled with your goals. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Until next time lovely,