Goals are important in the way a compass can be important when you’re out exploring. Without goals, we are like a ship lost at sea, buffeted by winds and waves with no land (or dinner buffets, for that matter) in sight. For some, this is a lifestyle—they’re driven forward and back, hither and yon by circumstances without really getting anywhere in particular.
Instead of being tossed and turned by a relentless sea, we must instead chose a port, a destination and do our darnedest to make it there, set anchor until we find the next port. Any boat which doesn’t make it to land at some point eventually becomes a shipwreck.
True, I’ve already touched on this in the post about FOCUS, but there’s another matter at stake: how do we choose a goal in the first place? Yes, chasing a goal is hard enough, but before you even begin plotting a course, you need to first set a goal, a destination. There is no better time than now.
Just as there are obstacles to completing goals, there are also obstacles when it comes to the initial task of goal-setting. Yes, the obstacles are many, so many I can’t decide which ones to talk about. Oh, right, how about indecision?
Indecision happens when we face multiple choices of similar value. It’s confusion about which option will yield the best results. I’ll admit, this is something I struggle with often. Life is full of decisions and sometimes the most simple ones can leave me dead in the water. Which ice cream should I pick up for tonight? (C’mon, it’s ice cream, they’re all good) What should I wear today? (How about that purple number with the interwoven green stripes and yellow spots—it’s a guaranteed winner) What should I name my kid? (Tyco-Benny-George-Newbaby-Slater, of course)
One problem with indecision is, it gets you nowhere. If it persists long enough, it’ll actually set you back. Think of a car driving uphill. Indecision is like letting off the gas. First you slow down, then you stop and at last, you’re moving in reverse. Indecision kills your momentum.
Like gravity, there are many influences in life pulling against you, bringing you to a place of indecision. But you aren’t helpless. You have an engine, an internal drive which can move you where you want to go, but you have to activate it. The fuel? Creativity!
So, just how do we get our motor revved and running again? How do we get decisive about decisions, especially when it comes to goal-setting? Here are a few ideas:
- Set aside time to dream a little. It’s easy to get caught-up in daily demands and forget to step back and look at the big picture. Free-write for a while (try half an hour) about what you want out of life, where you wish you were, what you’d like to accomplish. Set it aside and let your mind mull it over more then re-read it in a couple days. You could even repeat this a few times. Afterwords, you should at least have a general idea of what your real interests are.
- List all your options. Then spend a few minutes comparing each. If nothing else, this should narrow it down to only the best ones. Consider how each option makes you feel, imagine your possible future if you choose a particular one.
- Ask for advice. Enlist some outside help. Tell a friend (or three) or a family (or even a village) about where you’re stuck and see if they have any ideas. Sometime it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see something right in front of you. Some of the best goals can come from people who know you well and understand what makes you tick and talk.
- Once you’ve made a goal list, pick one at random and go for it. Since you’ve already narrowed down your options to the few best, you likely have no way of knowing if one is better than the other until you give them a test-drive. Roll some dice or draw them out of a hat. You can always change later, but only after you’ve chosen one and given it an honest attempt.
Indecision often comes when you feel overwhelmed. You may know your end goal, but feel caught up in the hundreds of little goals you need to make and complete on the way there. So, instead of focusing on the end, just keep your eyes on the next step. Set big goals first, but execute them in opposite order: from small to large.
Alright, enough lolly-gagging! Cough out those lollys and start setting your goals for the future. Get your Goal-in-ator 3000 engine topped off with the highest grade of creative fuel and those big wheels will keep on turning.
Hey Creatives, what sorts of goals have you set lately? Let us know in the comments below.