Every year many people feel the “freshness” of the new year, new beginnings, the chance to start anew. Many set goals and about two weeks into January, these resolutions lay on the side of the road, conveniently forgotten, ignored and denied that they were even created in the first place.
Goal Setting the “Right” Way
When I was getting my PhD in Organization Psychology, all the “rage” was about goal setting and developing SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Timely, Realistic, blah blah blah. The “A” in SMART goals stands for “Achievable”.
Thousands of research studies (literally) were conducted to examine the nuances of optimally setting goals. I’m not kidding, you couldn’t walk 3 steps and not run into this research.
- The Principle: Set very challenging goals – beyond your beliefs and comfort zone – to help you stretch and grow. Be outrageous! Every motivational speaker will tell you to reach for the stars! Be inspired!
- The Real World Interpretation: Make it challenging (to motivate you) but also within reach so you don’t get all depressed and discouraged if you miss, or make your boss upset
Yesterday my “Accountability Buddy”/ peer coach and I met to review our goals for 2016. She asked me about some of the financial goals and how high the bar was set.
My answer was surprising to me, and I am glad she asked because it helped to bring more clarity to my own thinking.
Yes, I set some very challenging goals. Within the realm of impossible, actually. Boo-yah!
Real World Throwaway Example
For example, I ran a promotion last week where I set a goal to give away 2000 books. I came nowhere near that goal (not even half) but yet, I feel no shame or embarrassment. (Hmmmm. Very familiar feelings around failure – for you too?)
Actually I feel a lot of joy because I learned a heck of a lot in the process. If I set an “attainable” goal, okay, woo hoo, I can pat myself on the back and say “yep, I did it” ….
BUT – it really shook up my thinking, plans, level of commitment and understanding – and even appreciation – for the whole process. What was I willing – and more importantly – not willing – to do to make this goal? How many times do we go waaaaay out of balance to achieve something impossible?
And I learned that I wasn’t going to go wild and do anything and everything to make it happen, to spend endless amounts of money to achieve a particular number.
In the end, I spent $55.21, about 12-14 hours of my time researching and executing social media techniques, engaging with many people, and
…. the learning was invaluable.
I knew the first day of the promotion I would not make the goal and I was perfectly fine with that outcome. I did not let my ego get involved, that inner critic that can often pop up at times like this. I could have spent thousands of dollars to achieve that goal. (PS – I gave away 288 books, and I also rose to a #3 ranking in both the free Kindle Energy Healing and Healing categories – yay!)
Instead, I learned so very much because I was willing to draw myself out of a comfort zone, experiment and simply see what happened.
Now admittedly this was “easy” because I did not have someone else depending upon my commitment (like a financial / sales forecast for organization budgeting purposes).
But I did “throw out” a goal that was simply designed to stimulate me, to help me learn and be focused for the sheer sake of playing and learning.
Why You Need Throwaway Resolutions
Remember when we were kids and would spend endless hours playing for the sheer joy of exploration? In fact, this play is *vital* to their learning and development. They rapidly develop because they are constantly learning and experimenting.
“Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.7–14 As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182
Adults can benefit from the same type of activities – do something for the sake of learning and stimulating your own motivation. Do you have at least one goal this year designed to stimulate the sheer pleasure of play and exploration?
Can you allow yourself the opportunity to “throw out” a goal and experiment? What would happen if you threw out all your goals this year? Visualize yourself on Dec 31 2016 and see if you could picture your own self then and what might be different!
I would love to hear your “throw away” goal for this year!
Additional research cited:
Hurwitz SC. To be successful: let them play! Child Educ.2002/2003;79 :101– 102
Tsao L. How much do we know about the importance of play in child development?Child Educ.2002;78 :230– 233