Setting Goals   Leave a comment

At some point in my life I became a goal-oriented person. As a teenager I was very resistant to the idea of setting short or long term goals because I felt that I would be limited by those defined goals. In college I started unofficially setting myself goals, but I didn’t really think of it in those terms since I was still resistant to the idea of constricting my growth by setting official goals. But after I graduated from college, those unofficial goals became overwhelming. All of a sudden I had way too much that I wanted to get done, and therefore I got nothing done. Then, with the universe’s impeccable timing, I stumbled upon an article that framed goal setting as an exercise to discover and free priorities from the morass of other stuff that fills our lives. I tried it, and I got hooked.

So now every February and August I engage in goal setting. It’s how I celebrate my personal new year (and the midway point). I usually start by free writing about who I want to be in 6 months. I rarely contemplate who I want to be at a longer time period because there are just too many variables. I am a dreamer, and my dreams stretch decades in the future. But I will not try to define those dreams because I have no way of knowing what will happen in my life in the next 10 years or so.

Based on my pie-in-the-sky free write, I narrow down to a list of realistic changes and realistic time periods. At the end of the process I set up to 6 goals for the next 6 months; and I’ll set longer term goals as appropriate. The goals are in categories: mental, spiritual, physical, and financial; and lifestyle and career. Several times I have tried to start from scratch developing categories but I always end up back with the same list. I have to admit that I don’t really use SMART goals. Realistic and time-based: check. Action-based: um, check? (is changing a way of thinking an action?). Specific and measurable: well, sometimes. “Sit for 8-hr professional engineering exam”, “establish $____ emergency fund”, “run x miles/week” are specific and measurable. “Improve posture”, “eliminate energy vampires” are not at all measurable. But is there a good way to measure improved posture? How do you measure a reduction in energy vampires? As far as I am concerned goals like that are necessary and valid, they just require self-honesty when it comes time to evaluate whether the goal was met.

I’ve been very happy with this process for years, but lately Liz (my intuitive self) has been hinting that it is no longer the best growth process for me. I just realized that one big gaping problem in my process is that I start by free writing about who I WANT to be, not who I AM.

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Posted March 2, 2010 by mayakey in goals

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