“Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.” –Aristotle
It seems like there’s always a good amount of talk about goals and goal setting, especially in the entrepreneurial world. While it may feel overdone, honestly, there’s a good reason for it. If we don’t know where we are going, how are we going to get there? Obviously it’s an issue many need help with – otherwise it wouldn’t be such a popular topic. I’ve found that the problem with goal setting for most people falls into one of two categories – either selecting a goal or staying on course. Let’s take a look at both…
SELECTING A GOAL
Every pilot needs a destination to actually go somewhere. Otherwise, you’re like a mouse on a spinning wheel exerting a bunch of effort, but not really going anywhere. Most people understand this concept, but the reality is not many follow it. Why? I’ve found that the area that most people get caught up in is on “what.” What should the goal be? Is this goal the right goal? Are there better goals? This line of questioning is a trap.
The secret is that it doesn’t really matter what your goal is. All that matters is that you have one. Moving in any direction is always going to be better than just sitting still. If you’ve ever heard the expression “if you’re not growing, you’re dying,” you probably have some basic understanding of this concept already.
Even if the goal you go after ends up being a mistake, it will still be a learning experience. You will have more knowledge than you did before and this knowledge will allow you to make a better choice going forward. If you never make a choice, however, you’ll still be in the same place you were when you started – just like that mouse spinning around his wheel endlessly.
When it comes to business, you can use any excuse in the book to avoid setting a goal or making a decision. To be honest, those excuses will probably be somewhat valid. The problem is your business will end up suffering from stagnation. Change is always needed to keep things fresh not just for yourself, but for your customers. If you’ve been hesitating to make a decision or provide a clear cut goal for yourself, maybe it’s time to reconsider. It doesn’t even matter what goal you pick – just do yourself a favor and pick one.
STAYING ON COURSE
Once you know where you are headed, you need to make sure you stay on course. When you take a road trip, there are two methods of approach. One is to consider traveling to the destination as part of the journey and allowing yourself to get distracted along the way with whatever novelties catch your eye. The other is to suck it up and just get there. Neither approach is wrong, however, depending on your situation one may the better choice at the time than the other. If you have things you need to accomplish at your destination, than the quickest path is going to be more advantageous for you. If you have nothing better to do and your trip is truly your journey, then by all means dawdle at every step.
When it comes to your business, your dreams and your big plans for the future, however, dawdling can become more than just another rest stop on the road of your life. It can get in the way of real progress. It can become the excuse you use instead of confronting what you really want (need) to do. Basically, it becomes a justification as to why you haven’t gotten where you want to be yet.
Keeping Aristotle’s words in mind, think about when you’ve been the happiest and most self-fulfilled. Chances are it’s when you were striving for a reachable goal. If you’ve fallen off track or allowed yourself to be distracted, take this time to become the navigator and captain of your own life and get back on course to attaining your dreams and desires.
Jennifer Good writes on many topics related to content marketing, social media, leadership, and productivity for leading publications. You can also find her at JenniferGood.com.