Most people work better when there's a standard set for them. Goals are nothing more than self imposed higher standards that we set for ourselves in order to improve. However, more often than not, we fail miserably when we set goals and usually abandon them. Michael Hyatt, who is an internationally known leadership expert, reports the following depressing data on New Year's resolutions and goals:
- 25% of people abandon their New Years' resolutions after one week
- 60% abandon them after 6 months
- The average person makes the same resolution 10 separate times without success
- 95% of those who lose weight, regain it
- Even after a heart attack, only 1 in 7 patients makes any lasting lifestyle changes
Why are we failing? I submit that it's because we're going about it backwards. It's like doctors who prescribe cough medicine to someone with pneumonia. We must go to the core of the problem and then work outwards. If you imagine an apple for this example; instead of us going to the core and dealing with the problem, we are only scratching at the peel and trying to make lasting changes based on "symptoms". That's why we fail - Our brain doesn't make the connection that we're serious because we're not connecting our goals to our inner self. I know, I know, it sounds like psycho mumble jumble, but it's the difference in giving up or sticking with goal.
The Army is one of the most successful, large organizations in U.S. history. The way they set goals is very similar to what I'm stating hear. Here's how they do it. Firstly they state their mission:
- The Army’s mission is to fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders.
Now, the mission is understood so they create tasks (goals) that prepare and train the Army to do their mission. That's called METL or Mission Essential Task Lists. Examples would be:
- Deploy 1 Combat Brigade anywhere in the world within 24 hours
- Deploy 1 Division anywhere in the world within 96 hours
Ok, let's now translate this to everyday people like us. Firstly, state your life mission. The mission should be a list of no more than 5 statements that adequately explain the big picture of your end-state. For example:
- To live a healthy, active lifestyle
- To obtain financial freedom
- To grow spiritually and emotionally
- To gain more knowledge
Those items above aren't your goals. They are your end-state, or where you want to be as 2015 ends next year. To get there, you will have to complete tasks. These tasks are your goals. Each goal you develop must be directly related to one of your mission statements. Here are goal examples and how to connect the dots:
- Lose 50 pounds in 2015 by losing 1 pound per week ( linked to #1 above)
- Read 12 self improvement books (linked to #4)
- Spend time daily in your book of faith (linked to #3)
- Save 10% of everything you earn (linked to #2)
In summary, the key is to remember why you're setting goals. It's to perform your life mission which, once realized, shouldn't change from year to year. The goals are just necessary steps to get you to where you want to be.