This year, I didn’t set goals. Neither should you. At least not yet. Since 2005 I have always carved out space and time to set outcomes for the year. There is usually one focus – maybe career or business, maybe personal fitness or spirituality. I have different levels of success. Some years I blow the doors off my goals. Other years, It’s a near miss, but so close that I’ll claim the hit. Since the pandemic, my world view has changed.
You see, I believe that everyone deserves success, but not everyone has an idea of what success should look like. If you look up “success” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you will discover 2 things.
Firstly, you will see that OUTCOME and RESULTS are given a similar meaning as Success, but are now obsolete. Obsolete? how could that be? More on that later.
More importantly, is the etymology of Success which is to SUCCEED, and is based on the Latin “succedere” => to go up, follow after, succeed, from sub=> “near” + cedere => to go
Etymology: Latin "successus", from "succedere" — see SUCCEED
So, if “Success” really means “to go near”, then “near what”, you might ask? Is it a competition, were you are striving for first place, or second place, or is it a state of mind, where you have a picture of what you want to achieve in your mind’s eye and you want to go near this outcome? You choose.
Why Stop Setting Goals? Because It’s probably not your goal but an external expectation. Let me explain.
I developed my own personal goal setting system in 2005. Since then I have taught this process to thousands of people in Live workshops and seminars. I would say hundreds of thousands of people have watched the videos or download the free PDF workbook, After 15 years, I stopped teaching these techniques. My reasons are simple:
- People set unrealistic goals, or
- People set unambitious goals
The process that I teach, incorporates a feedback loop to avoid both of these, and yet year and year, I see people making the same mistakes and I give the same feedback, and slowly work through how to redefine your goals and align your objectives with your life values.
Why does this keep happening? Are people so unfulfilled that they have lost their ambition? or so delusional, that they have lost their grasp on reality? or maybe it’s a bit of both?
Last year, I conducted an informal questionnaire on goals and goal setting. What goals people has set the previous year, and how it went (remember that was the year of the pandemic) -The reality is that the world had changed overnight and so our expectations of success had been dashed. Most people did not achieve the initial goals they set and had to pivot hard to survive. I’m curious about the people that didn’t have to realign. These are the people to emulate.
But why? A deeper inspection, is that for most, our goals are not our own. They are the expectations that are set for us by society – by our Company, or Boss, or Manager, our Partner, or Parents, or maybe even aspirations to be as good or better than a sibling or a best friend. They are the expectations that allows us to fit it to the established rule. The Goals that says “I’m good enough”.
So many of the goals I see are people saying “I want to make £100,000 this year”, or the real crazies will say “I want to make £1m this year” and with no mechanism or process to achieve this beyond Hope, and as I often hear in the finance world: “Hope is not an investment strategy”. Other goals I see include “I want to travel the world” or “I want to find the perfect relationship”, without really deeper inspection of why these outcomes are missing from their lives in the first place and what different they would make to your personal life experience. All are flawed without one important aspect of human behaviour that is sadly lacking: Critical Thinking.
Critical Thinking, is in essence, building a judgement based on sensory based evidence. What you can see, hear and calculate, not based on opinion, emotion, drama, outrage or anger. It’s a process of continuously breaking down the assumptions, cognitive biases and personal reactions to what you are looking at and analysing the data and if necessary, verifying the data against sources. People say “facts don’t lie”, but liars use facts out of context to win arguments.
If you are not a Critical Thinker, how can you realistically set goals that are going to make a real improvement to your life. For example, I love the idea of travelling around the world, but in the same breath, I recognise that I like a hot shower, clean clothes and a warm bed. I like to cook my own food, and I enjoy grabbing a coffee and blogging in a coffee shop, or grabbing the car and going for a spin any day I feel like it and choosing the destination on the day. The reality is that unless you are very wealthy, travelling around the world means sacrificing so many of the little rituals and pleasures we take for granted. I see people setting goals that are wrapped in the allure of grandeour, without first setting the principles in place to make the goal worthwhile, and this is why I want to democratise success.
I want to bring back the definition of success to mean outcome and results. I believe that in order to even decide upon the outcome and result that we want in a year, in a decade or a lifetime, we need to think critically about where we are today and where we want to be in the future, not just personally, but as a society and a race. I believe that we need more introspection on our lives on who we get our inspiration and motivation from, and most importantly, who are the people we want to spend time with, either in person or on the digital screens that are consuming our attention every day.
To achieve success, you first need know where you are today and who you are comparing yourself to – who do you want “to be near”, and really question if this is the destiny you aspire to achieving. Only then can you be really honest with yourself about the future.
If you would like to learn about how to become a Critical Thinker and build better self awareness into your thinking and planning process, consider signing up to get certified as an NLP Practitioner with NLP Northern Ireland and get access to the only 6 month Blended Learning course of its kind on the planet.
Your future deserves better.
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