Focused GoalJan 08, 2024
A LITTLE MAGIC
One memorable flight, we were high above the clouds on a packed plane. I was among many children including my son, who was pretty little at the time.
And then, as if, with a spark of magic, a flight attendant walked up to a child across the row from us. She pulled out a long thin, bright blue balloon. With a few bursts of her handy pump, the balloon quickly filled with air.
In a whirl of motion, the flight attendant transformed the balloon into a puppy!
She glided from child to child, creating one colorful animal after the other. Pink, yellow, then green. Joy bubbled up inside of each child and parent as they received their unexpected gift.
After that beautiful moment, we landed safely at our destination.
The balloon animals weren’t the only seemingly magical part of the experience. Have you ever stopped to think about the wonder of an airplane?
The level of engineering and science behind an airplane is mind boggling. Pilots can fly us to any airport with such precision and accuracy. We can access any part of the country in only a few hours. Not only is the pilot’s job to keep us safe and comfortable, but to also keep us on the right track so that we arrive at our destination.
Every pilot is taught the 1 in 60 rule. This rule explains that if a plane is pointed just 1 degree off, then within only 60 miles, a plane will be an entire mile off route. That’s significant. You would end up in an entirely different city or state.
This principle applies to other areas of life as well. As leaders, we become more productive and win our goals, by narrowing down and pinpointing your goals with greater precision and accuracy. By making them more specific and measurable, we are far more likely to reach our intended destination.
Many of us heard of the SMART acronym used to set achievable goals. Michael Hyatt, Founder of Full Focus, has tweaked the acronym to make it even more effective:
Specific - Clarity is important to starting off well. It’s hard to know where to start if your goal is too vague. If you want to improve your company’s communication culture, that’s great, but what does that look like? Perhaps a better goal is to implement x number of healthy communication trainings throughout the year.
Measurable - You should be able to know whether or not you reached your goal. Perhaps you want to increase your sales. Put a number to it. Or maybe you have a personal goal of losing weight. Put a number to it.
Actionable - Your goal should be a verb. Something that you do. You don’t want to just have a healthy communication culture at your company, or increase sales, or lose weight. Your goal should be an action that you can complete. You can schedule the training seminars. Your goal can be to make x number of sales calls or go to the gym x number of times per week. Make your goal concrete and actionable.
Risky - If a goal is too challenging, we tend to give up. But if it’s too easy, people lose motivation. We want to land in the goldilocks sweet spot. By making the goal a little risky, it causes us to rise to the occasion and push ourselves to the next level, which will naturally make us more productive and effective.
Time-bound - Over the holidays, my aunt gifted my sister a beautiful cross stitch project. They would both create one and she declared it would need to be done by August. I asked, Why August? No reason, other than that things rarely get done unless there’s a deadline. Set a deadline that will create a sense of urgency.
Exciting - Intrinsic motivation, which we talked about in the Identity Driven Goals blog article, is key to executing your goals. When we want to do something, we are much more likely to do it. The goal or desired outcome from the goal should align with our passions and values. The Life Design Program is a powerful tool for unearthing and articulating your passions and values so that you can create the type of goals you are uniquely designed to accomplish.
Relevant - Does your goal point you in the right direction? If it’s a work related goal, it should push you closer to your quarterly goals and align with your role at the company. If it’s a personal goal, is it relevant to your personal mission statement? If you don’t have a personal mission statement and are unclear as to what direction you want to head in life, the Life Design Program will walk you through the process.
By narrowing your focus and pinpointing your goal with the SMARTER acronym, you will be far more likely to hit your target.
It’s easy to get carried away, dreaming of what we want to create or accomplish. In the excitement, it’s easy to rattle off numerous goals, hoping to accomplish more. But the more fractured we are, the less likely we will achieve anything.
In her book Grit, Angela Duckworth dives into research that reveals the thing that sets people apart when they are trying to accomplish their goals: Grit. As she sifts through what grit entails, it becomes clear that having one specific focus makes all the difference. Being all in on one thing is a much more powerful and effective way to success than dividing our attention into multiple pursuits.
Duckworth then walks readers through a process of writing down 25 of their top goals. With the reality in mind that most of those goals become distractions from accomplishing the most important goals, she has her readers completely eliminate goals until they are down to just a couple. By narrowing our focus, we can focus on what matters most.
“So often people are working hard at the wrong thing,” says entrepreneur Caterina Fake. “Working at the right things is probably more important than working hard.”
If you have many goals that are being pulled in different directions, first take a moment to pause and assess your values and long-term goals.
Find the patterns and commonalities. Pick out the most important goal and start there by crafting that goal using SMARTER to make it clear and motivating.
Then, break down your goals into manageable action steps so that you can feel confident as you work step-by-step through your game plan and accomplish your goals.
P.S. We will talk about that next week!
By Caitlyn Neel - Cofounder, Speak with People
Caitlyn is a certified life coach, author, and speaker. She enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures. Most recently Caitlyn loved hiking, tasting the local cuisine, and exploring the castle in Scotland.