Lately I’ve been discouraged by my goals. When I review them each week I feel so far away from my desired outcome. What I’m beginning to realize is that I’m not setting the right goals.
Sure, when you set new goals you should write down your desired outcome. For example:
1) I want to meet my soul-mate.
2) I want to be a millionaire.
3) I want to write a best-seller.
Determining your desired outcome is a good starting point. It provides direction. However, it can be awfully frustrating to compare your progress to an outcome that you don’t fully control.
2600 Sales Calls
Let’s say you’re a sales rep for XYZ Company. At the beginning of the year you set a goal to achieve your quota of $X. How will you get there? It’s so far away. You’re not satisfied until you reach the goal. Once you do, you celebrate momentarily and then halt all forward progress. You met your goal, now what?
The real problem (and source of frustration) with a goal like this is that you can’t control the outcome. You have no say over whether someone buys from you. You can put the odds in your favor by making good sales calls. But at the end of the day, the customer decides your fate with a simple “yes” or “no.” And just like that, you’ve either hit your goal or you didn’t.
A better goal to set is the number of sales calls you make. Here, you control the outcome. The achievement of this goal rests solely on you. So rather than set a goal to make $X this year, why not set a goal to call 2600 customers? That’s 10 calls a day, M-F. Not only will this help you reach your quota, but you’ll feel much better throughout the entire process because you’re in control.
52 First Dates
Let’s shift gears to finding “Mr.” or “Mrs. Right.” This can also be frustrating goal. Why? Because you don’t control the outcome. It takes two people to fall in love.
Instead, try this: Set a goal to introduce yourself to someone new each week. You don’t even have to go on a formal date. Just introduce yourself. Let the conversation take a life of its own. Do this enough times and you will surely find a good match.
The idea here is to set the right goals – the kind you can “check off” at the end of the week, whether someone else “opts in” or not. As you go through this process you will overcome the fear that stands between you and your real objective.
You will also learn to detach from the outcome. You will start to enjoy the process. Believe it or not the process can be fun! Over time, you will become so good at the process that you won’t be motivated by the outcome or the end result. You will be motivated by the feeling you get from doing the work you love. Do you think Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, or Derek Jeter do what they do for money or championship rings? No. They do what they do because they love doing it. They love the process.
I haven’t always understood the idea of “detaching from the outcome.” I thought it was a wishy-washy way for people to feel good about not achieving their goals. But when I think back to times I was successful I realize I was detached from the outcome. I had to be detached or I would have failed. Had I been focused solely on the outcome, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on the work at hand (or seize unexpected opportunities).
After this realization, I’ve decided to go to back to the drawing board and revise my goals. I’m going to set new goals related to a “process” rather than an “outcome.” Hopefully, at the end of each week, I will have a lot more “checks” next to each of my goals.
What are your thoughts? What’s holding you back?
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Scott Mackes is a leader and founder of the blog Margin of Excellence. A U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Scott’s mission is to help others lead remarkable journeys. Connect with Scott on facebook and twitter.