Welcome to 2016!

Today, I’m not going to do one of those posts that most coaches do. You know the ones – Be the best you can be! Make 2016 your winning year! Kick off the 2016 with a bang! If you fail to plan for 2016, then you planning to fail!

We’ve all seen those, right?

New Year I find is a time for when people set new goals and make New Year’s resolutions, but by Australia day (January 26th for my international readers), we have already broken them and sometimes even forgotten them.

What I am about to say is going to sound extremely weird for a business coach to say, but I am not a big fan of people setting goals! Whoa! What did I just say? Yes, not a big fan of people setting goals!

OK, that doesn’t mean you get out of setting goals, I just don’t think many people are doing it in a helpful way to empower them in business and life.

Last year at a conference I spoke at for a franchise group, the Franchisor did an excellent exercise with the franchisees and got them to write on a postcard a goal they wanted to achieve in the next 6 months. He then collected the postcards to send back to them in 6 months time. Now what was interesting was what they wrote and what happened when their postcards were sent back. I was privy to seeing their goals and what happened when they were posted back.

When I read the goals – knowing the franchisees quite well – what I saw was how when people set goals on their own, they don’t do a very good job of it.

I think a goal should be something that you can tick off your list. You should know when it is achieved. You don’t do a ‘fun run’, you do a ‘10km fun run’ or a ‘marathon’ that you know is 42 km’s long. You know when it is done. You don’t just head out and run because you don’t know when you are finished. You have to cross the finish line, otherwise you are just out for a job or a run – that’s not a goal.

When I read the postcards of these franchisees, many of them had no finish line. Now some of them it was simply that they didn’t really think about making sure they wrote something they could tick off a list. Some of them though, when they wrote that goal down, they didn’t put a finish line on it because then they would be accountable to making that happen. They didn’t want to put down something they really wanted to achieve, just in case they didn’t achieve it. The first mistake people make when setting a goal – not going after what you really want in fear of what if you don’t get it! To achieve something in business – or life – you have to know when you have achieved it!

The other thing I saw on a lot of the goals on the postcards were unrealistic goals – even if you put in a super hero effort! Some of the franchisees wrote down goals for a 6 month period that was going to be near on impossible to achieve in that time. In reality, some of them wrote down goals that would take more like a year to complete. To note, some also wrote down goals that would only take them a week or two to achieve, not 6 months and there was even one that I know the person had already achieved so wasn’t actually a goal at all.

People often set goals for things like I want to be more happy. Well how do you know when you are more happy? Is it actually going to make you happy to have a goal for being happy if you don’t actually like setting goals?

So why don’t I like people setting goals?

Firstly, because if you are setting a goal on your own, without someone that can coach you through if that is the right goal for you, you generally set stupid (ok, that was a bit a harsh!) or unrealistic goals for yourself.

The key to achieving goals is to have to do lists or action steps to achieve the goals. You can say ‘I want more new customers for my business’ then click your fingers and they arrive as if by magic in front of you (I know this, because I have tried this method and it didn’t work). You need to do activities to make it happen. You need steps to follow and you need to monitor your progress. You need to know where the finish line is.

The biggest challenge I have with goal setting is that most of us – yes, me included – do it with what I call a ‘Pushing Energy’. We are doing it from a place of I have to achieve this or I am going to MAKE myself do this or from a place that is so far from joy and happiness – we are more the slave driver, pushing ourselves to achieve, that we don’t enjoy the process. This makes it very difficult to achieve a goal and certainly does not set you up to want to set more goals. We can also have this fear that is pushing us to achieve a goal – a running away from something, rather than running towards something – kind of feeling. Fear is not a great way to set a goal because just like when skiing, if you don’t want to ski straight into a tree, then don’t focus on the trees. If we are setting a goal to get away from something, then we are generally focused on the thing we don’t want, and just like the trees skiing, that is exactly where we will end up.

For the last year or two, what I have been doing personally is setting my goals in a calm state (not fear, not ego, just what would I like to achieve) and then talking them through with someone I trust (my brother is excellent at this with me! He often just asks, do you really want that?) and then working out the action steps to make it happen. Then most importantly, I then allow the process to unfold. Yep, I just put it out there and then say, well, let’s see what happens.

I’ve set many goals that I’m really glad I never achieved. I’ve started lots of different things, tried lots of different things and then along the process stopped. I’ve never quit or given up – don’t confuse stopping and quitting. I’ve stopped because I’ve discovered this wasn’t right for me or maybe a better opportunity presented itself or that what I was doing wasn’t working and I needed to change. I’ve never quit – that is got so frustrated or unwilling to try that I just gave up – but I have stopped.

Yes, I’ve kind of rumbled on here today with this post, but I really wanted to provide a different voice in this New Year chatter about goal setting and achievement.

What if this year, you were really gentle on yourself, kind to yourself. You stopped the push, the have to talk and set goals that meant something to you and then you allowed the fear and the anxiety of achieving them drift away and you started to just allow yourself to follow the process to see what happened with the goal. What if you were just kind to yourself this year, not your own personal drill sergeant?

Maybe you will achieve more? Maybe you will achieve less? Maybe that’s not the point – what you achieve. Maybe the point is who you are being?

Allow yourself to be YOU this year. Not the YOU you think you should be. Be the You that you could become this year. Stop pushing yourself to achieve and start allowing yourself to succeed.

Happy New Year!