How do you go about working towards a goal? Do you plan to make it happen sometime in the future or do you give yourself deadlines? Me? I just assume that the goal is happening in my future. Working towards the goal is spares and sporadic. Mostly just whenever I feel like working towards it. And if there’s no incentive for me? I may not be really working towards the goal in an effective way.
I also realize that not having a specific goal to work towards, makes it really hard to start. Let’s think about it in terms of my job search. Before last week, I was not really doing anything productive other than looking over my resume. Then I really started to get into the applications when I realized I might be getting a dog sooner rather than later. This last week, I feel like I’ve got a fire under my ass to really get a job. It was no longer just about me, but my dog as well.
With no dog still, and the desire to job search and apply waning, I’m realizing that I have no strategy for what I’m doing in my gap year. Yeah, of course I need to work and to write, but other than that I have no concrete ideas or plans for the year. Because of the uncertainty of the year, I let my self get really vague about what I want to accomplish.
Sometimes specific goals are helpful. Even if it is spontaneity and the desire to live life as best as we can in the uncertain times, creating a bit of structure can help ground and focus our minds. Just like I’ve been doing these last few weeks, trying to get a routine together of things I do before and after work, our minds desire more structure than we think that they do.
One of the best things to focus on is to set effort based goals. Sam from the Smart Twenties blog just had a workshop about growing our blogs. Her best advice was to set effort based goals and not result based goals. Let me explain. Result based goals are those that we set thinking more of the outcome of the project rather than the project. Like when I think about writing my first book, I don’t think about how awesome I’m going to feel just having written the thing, but the potential success that can come with it. Effort based goals are focused on getting the project done and finding the value in the hard work it took to produce it. Like when I graduated college. I saw my degree as a stepping stone to a better future, but I was just so excited to have done it. I knew all my hard work had paid off.
Of course, setting effort based goals are a lot harder to do. We’ve basically been programmed to look towards things for their result, not for the effort that we put in. So naturally, they’re hard and not something we feel comfortable in doing. But they’re helpful when looking at the big picture.
Think about it: at the end of your life, do you want to be happy with the things you’ve accomplished or do you want to be so mad at the world for not giving you the results that you wanted? I want to be happy and have the ability to actually say that I went all in to make my dreams a reality. How about you?