A good intention becomes a goal when you define it. I think that I’d like to go back to school is a good intention. I will start to research programs at local schools and identify a class to take before the fall semester this year is a goal. Good intentions make us feel like we are doing something to help ourselves, but they are safe and comfortable in their vagueness. We think of goals as scary because they usually make us face our fears of inadequacy – they are icy and unwelcoming in their rigidity.
This time of year people like to make resolutions that reach toward their ideal selves – I will lose weight, get a better job, whatever that ideal self happens to be. Resolutions tend to be more like good intentions, though. It is something to say at a party and forget the next morning.
Resolutions and good intentions are a magic talisman to say and then the thing will come true. If we are being realistic with ourselves, we know this isn’t true, but where is the fun in that? And of course we should all be careful of who we tell our resolutions to because some people will remember them and ask every time they see us. Unless we really intend to make what we say a goal, then we should tell those that will help to hold us to the goal.
Most of us have heard a great deal about goals in our working life – SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) and other acronyms are out there on the training circuit.
When it is time to make a good intention a real goal, then we have to get busy and pull out whatever we’ve learned about goals that makes sense – write it down, share it to give yourself a support group, break it down into easy to handle steps, and so on. If these points don’t speak to you, then you won’t do them – but if you have had a string of ‘goals’ that you haven’t met in the past, then you need to rethink your methodology.
Just like a story, a goal has a start, a middle and an expected specific ending along with a time frame. Now the thing that might make goals more palatable for many people is the malleability. We all believe that goals are set in stone and you either achieve them, or let them rust. We believe the experts that have told us goal setting has a very specific equation.
Now think of something that you wanted to do and you were able to complete. How did you get there from where you started? Maybe you can apply that process again even if you didn’t think of it as a process at the time. You might have to add, subtract or tweak parts of it to make it work for your new idea.
You do need to develop some method to test how realistic and therefore achievable your goal might be – or you might have to set a few other goals in between to get closer to making your idea an achievable goal. For instance if you want to be a dean of a specific University and you are still in college for your bachelors, then you have to set some interim goals to become dean.
Sometimes you might have conflicting goals too, so you will have to pick which is more important at that time. I have had a lot of thoughts about goals over the years, and could have several different goals for this post. I had to pick which ones would make a cohesive argument to get readers to consider goals in a new light. I can touch on others in the future.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations