Many people say that they don’t really set goals. They have a vague idea of what needs to happen, what they would like their future to look like. However, they don’t put a plan into place to make the goal happen. They don’t write anything down; No deadlines, no specific plan of action.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? The reality is that you have two choices when it comes to goals; to be intentional or unintentional about them. Whichever you choose and whether you know it or not, you’re still setting goals.
Your Success Depends on the Type of Goal You Set:
- The Intentional goal. This is the type of goal setting that most people are familiar with by definition. This type of goal is specific and detailed. It is written down along with an action plan and a date for its accomplishment. It includes information on any additional help and/or skills and training that will be needed. It’s similar to a map showing the path to a destination, the pot of gold. You can look at this type of goal and visualize it being accomplished because there is a plan associated with it.
- The Unintentional goal. It’s what happens when you aren’t specific about what it is you want to accomplish, or what you want your future to look like. The unintentional goal is a fuzzy idea you have of what “would be nice.” You might think or say something like, “It sure would be nice to get into shape.” However, you never get any more detailed than that fuzzy notion. You don’t get any more specific and you definitely don’t set a deadline.
Whether you are intentional or unintentional about your goals, the way you spend your time shows the type of goal you are working towards.
An intentional goal gives you a clear direction that helps to guide and direct your behaviors to a very specific end. Intentional goals clarify your purpose in your daily activities.
Why you do what you do. The intentional goal-setter enjoys the rewards of focused effort and time. They don’t have any additional hours in their day. They don’t get a little bit more time than the rest of us. They do however have an edge on time because they’re effective and efficient with the time they have.
The unintentional goal has the opposite effect. The unintentional goal results in living life chasing after fires, expending a lot of energy but accomplishing little; similar to getting in your car and driving all around town, but never reaching your destination. The unintentional goal-setter accomplishes little more than making it through the day. In between fire drills, they spend their time dreaming of “someday,” instead of making it happen.
3 things happen when you intentionally set a goal:
- Your energy and behaviors are focused. Some people say they work better under pressure. What they really mean is that they work better when they’re focused. A specific end result accompanied by a specific deadline provides focus and accountability. You’ve heard the axiom about getting more work done the week before you go on vacation. The reason this is true is that you have a goal with a deadline. As you focus all your energies and efforts on making them happen, all extraneous activities are eliminated. Can you imagine what you can do if you lived every day this focused? Every activity, every minute focused towards a very specific end. I would challenge, that your workday would actually be shorter because every minute would be spent productively. It’s a natural form of time management. When you develop goals around your priorities those priorities become your filter. You find yourself working only on those tasks that will advance you to your desired end result.
- You strive for more than you would have otherwise. As W. Clement Stone once said, “Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I’m a proponent of setting BIG goals. It’s possible I won’t hit them, but I always get farther than I would have otherwise. When I first started running I didn’t set the world on fire with my speed or endurance. However over the years, I set distance goals for myself; the end of the street, around the block, 5k, 10k, half marathon and then eventually a couple of full marathons. Each time I set a goal for distance, I didn’t always hit the mark within the time frame I set, but I always got closer than I would have otherwise.
- You learn persistence and earn a sense of accomplishment. During those early running years, there were days that weren’t so great. I didn’t quite hit my goal, but I became persistent and tenacious in my quest. As I became more and more persistent, I experienced the feeling of satisfaction that came with visible progress. Each time I ran farther than I ever had before, it was exciting. I felt accomplished. Mentally and emotionally I started to realize that I was capable of doing more than I ever thought I could and that breathed life into my soul. That feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment bled over into other areas of my life. I began to be more than I had been before. Which opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me. Simply because I set a goal and made progress towards it.
The bottom line is: You’re going to spend the time doing something anyway. You might as well be intentional so you accomplish something of value. In what area of your life do you really want to see results? How can you begin today to set intentional goals and make the future you want?