|Mother's Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
This is one of my favorite Mother's Day cards of all time. The front of the card reads, "Mom, remember when you told me you wanted me to grow and be somebody?" When you open the card it reads,” Maybe you should have been more specific.” I love this sense of humor but there's really more to it than just a funny punch line.
The fact is, whether we are inspiring our children, setting goals for ourselves or interacting with co-workers in the workplace, being more specific is actually a good idea. Somehow, in my experience, this is something most people seem very reluctant to do. We like to talk about goals in a vague and general way. We like to get all involved in the process but don’t want to take time to revise it. We like to talk with authority about how this or that plan or strategy isn’t working, but when we are held accountable with facts, no one much wants to take the time or effort to put them together and analyze them. We’d rather whine and complain about the problem rather than focusing on solutions.
Most people who set goals simply make a wish list rather than a goal list. Goals for the most part tend to be areas they know they need to work on but don’t know how or sometimes even why. This includes goals like: lose weight, make more money, or spend more quality time with family. Although these goals are all important, before you set your goal, you must know why it is important to you. You have to have more than a little “I wish”. You’ve got to have a big “I can’t live with out it!” Most of the time, lists of goals sound more like someone’s wish list for Santa than a list that they are passionate about achieving and putting in the hard work to do so.
When I first wrote the Wyatt The Wonder Dog stories, I had a vague goal of getting them published somehow, someway, some day. I waited around for ten years for the right person to walk into my life and announce, "Any one here want to publish a children's book?" Finally, one day I decided to do something rather than keep waiting. First, I set a goal of getting one story published within a year. Next, I began asking knowledgeable people about how to self-publish a book. I had already sent the story to about ten different publishing companies with no luck and I decided I could either continue down that path or try something new. One person I asked was Dan Miller, author of 48 Days To The Work You Love who has a weekly podcast where he answers questions about work and careers. When I explained my situation and asked him if I should self-publish he gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Then he enumerated lots of reasons why this was the way to go. This was just the encouragement I needed and I was hooked. I set a new gotta-have-it goal of doing something, anything, every single day to move me toward my publishing my book. Some days that meant I checked out a website and tried to understand self -publishing. Some days it meant I spent time editing a story and other days it meant that I called an art teacher I knew and asked if she would draw illustrations for the book. I joined groups online and asked for advice. Gradually, slowly, baby-step by baby-step I made progress. In twelve months time, I held the first copy of my first book in my hand! It was truly a dream come true and it all started with a mission, a vision and a specific measurable goal with small steps every day toward that goal. You can do it to!
Take a hint from my mother's day card, goals should be:
• Specific • Measurable • Attainable • Realistic • Have A Time frame
Last month, I asked the question, "Where do you want to be in three years and what needs to be in place to make that happen?" This is nothing more than goal setting in disguise. I promised that I would answer the question myself. Here are two of my goals:
Establish a consulting business where I speak and teach personality style and leadership techniques to educators at least once a month.
Write a weekly blog that is motivational and inspirational.
Publish one book a year.
Now it’s your turn. Where do you want to be in three years? Write it down. Review it. Is it measurable? Attainable? Realistic? Oh, and don’t forget to be specific.