Friday, December 14, 2012

Goal Setting Without Fear

By Peg Brantley

One of my favorite sayings is "It doesn't matter where you start out. What matters is where you end up."

Are you ready to plan your route to the finish line? Do you know what that looks like for you?

And what happens if you fail?

That's the simple question. Here's the simple (though not always easy) answer. You start over. You pick up where you left off. You change the idea of failure to one of education. You understand you're that much further ahead.

But what about setting goals in the first place?

Before I throw out some strategies to think about, think about this first: carefully consider that the goals you are setting are what you want to accomplish, not what someone else thinks you should accomplish. Do not set your goals based on the expectations of others, or just because they sound good.

Man, it took me forever to figure that one out. (I'm such an approval seeker—or at least I used to be.) Sheeshkabobalino.

Most of us have heard about SMART goals. This is a great tool to keep in mind when you're sitting down to start clarifying what you want to achieve. Make each goal as Specific as possible. Details. Make them Measurable. Quantify what you're going for. Think carefully about whether or not each goal is truly Achievable. Are they Reasonable? And are they Timely?

Here's where I think people can get tripped up—your goals must be consistent with your values—without conflict. Not only must you look at where your heart is, you need to understand what makes it tick. For example, if your heart is set on getting that huge promotion, but you value time with your family, you need to make sure you can accomplish both. If not, which are you willing to sacrifice? Conflict will surely impact both goals, and your quality of life will suffer.

Another piece is to strive for balance in your life. Set goals for all six areas: Family, Spiritual, Social, Career, Physical, Educational. Don't pump up one area at the expense of another—and don't forget to check for conflict.

When you write your goals down (and that in itself is important) write them in the positive rather than the negative. Our subconscious minds focus on the written word. Make it good. Rather than saying, "At the end of the year, I don't want to still be writing my novel", say "At the end of the year, I will have a completed novel ready to be shopped." And of course, be detailed. Even to the point of recording how you will FEEL when that happens.

Take an assessment. Check your heart—your values. And take a chance on writing down some goals for 2013 (assuming we make it past the end of the world). If you fail, you're no further behind, and maybe even a little ahead. But if you succeed? Zowie.

(This post was originally published in Suspense Novelist, updated for the comment referring to the Mayan Calendar.)


  1. Great post, Peg. And very timely with the new year coming. The only things I would add is to never give up on goals just because you don't reach them according to your timetable. Also, it helps to create a subset of smaller goals/steps that will help you reach your big ones.

    1. Perfect ads. And similarly, don't be afraid to adjust goals as you progress toward them, or beyond them.

  2. Excellent tips, Peg! Inspirational and practical. No excuse! And thanks, LJ, for your additional ideas. These ideas and detailed plans are perfect for setting up goals for the New Year coming up! Thanks a lot!

  3. I think the best way to set goals--at least for me-- is to keep them as simple as possible. Not simple in expectations, but simple in concept. Too often, we make them so complex in nature, that we trip ourselves up before we ever start--or at least too soon after.

    My goal is fairly simple: to always do better. That leaves more room for success and less for failure. I can always do better at something.

    Great post as we approach the new year, Peg.

  4. Goal setting reminds me of mood boards some people use - a way to write what you want to achieve. I'm not a planner, but by writing down what I want to achieve (perhaps it's only the end result), I find myself more focused and more likely to achieve it.


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