When Goals Matter – Part Four

I remember asking one of my mentors many years ago what I needed to do in order to be successful. His answer, as usual, what short and to the point. He said you must have balance in your life. 


It was his opinion that you could be the most successful business person in the world but if your family hated you then you were not truly a success. He believed that an unbalanced obsession in any one part of your life kept you from complete success. 


I believe he was 100% correct in his assessment.


So I recommend setting goals in six key areas of your life. Those areas are family and home, financial and career, spiritual and ethical, mental and educational, social and cultural and physical and mental. (For those of you who think that’s 12 areas I’m okay with that too but the pairings actually go together)


I think you’ll find that having goals in each of those areas can help you achieve them all. You may not always be motivated to head out to work but when you realize that you’re actually working for your family it tends to make it easier. Perhaps you’re really kung ho about getting that promotion at work but when you also have a goal to have a thriving social network you may be more likely to pull yourself away from that desk. That means you have some balance in your life. 


Before we go any further let’s make one thing perfectly clear; when I say social network I’m talking about the old fashioned kind, you know, the kind where you interact with actual humans, face-to-face. Talking to them…with your voice. No amount of social media followers or friends will ever replace human contact and never kid yourself that it will.


Now, back to goals.


Once you’ve determined where to set goals you’re pretty much ready to start writing them down. I like the SMART method of setting goals, you’ve likely heard of it many times. Make certain your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed


It’s a great method for setting goals, it has just one problem….it seldom works. It’s not really that SMART goals fail because they are not smart, they fail because most people don’t seem to understand the definition of specific. They end up with MART goals and that doesn’t even sound smart. 


So, in the fifth and final post of this series we’re going deep on specificity. You’ll end up with goals that represent your roadmap, a detailed roadmap, to success.


Until then consider this… I’ve always heard it said that there are only two things certain in life, those being death and taxes. I’d like to add this to the certainties of life: if you’re willing to be stopped in the pursuit of your goals there will always be someone or something to stop you. 

The more specific you are in setting your goals the harder it is for someone else to get in your way. You’re looking at a substantial investment of time in order to be specific when setting true goals but it’s an investment with a guaranteed return because it’s an investment in yourself. 

First Things First

I teach a Time Management program. I probably shouldn’t since there is actually no such thing as time management. No one has ever managed time. Time does it’s own thing, relentlessly ticking off second after second regardless of what you may need to accomplish.

I hear people saying all the time that they don’t have enough time but the fact is they do. They have all the time in the world. No one who has ever lived has had more time than you have right now. They didn’t have less either.

1440 minutes a day is what each of us gets to accomplish what we will. No one has ever gotten more and barring the coolest tech not yet invented I doubt they ever will.

So time management is a bit of a misnomer, it’s probably better described as event management. The events that make up your day are what chews up your time. The people who seem to have more time are the ones who have mastered the mindset that everything they do during a day is an event. 

They see breakfast as an event, they see their morning stop at the coffee shop as an event. They see every phone call as an event and they know that when they have a day full of events they stop adding more. If they do add more they drop something else off their list of events.

Managing the events that make up your day teaches you a very important life lesson: no one has too little time, what they have is very poor prioritization skills.

People without prioritization skills end up doing less important things at the expense of more important things, often at the expense of the most important thing.

They do the easy thing, they do what they like, they do what they have always done. If any of those things happen to be the most important thing, the most productive thing, then that’s a happy coincidence. But successful people don’t rely on coincidence.

If you’re really going to be a good life event manager then you’re going to need to have a serious conversation with yourself. That conversation should be centered around your life goals, your values and your objectives. Most people who fail in doing the most important thing first do so simply because they don’t know what the most important thing is. 

Set goals, real goals. Goals that align with your values and principles. Write those goals down and make a plan to achieve them. You’ll be amazed at how much time you really have when pretty much everything you do gets you closer to one of those goals. 

Quit trying to manage time and start managing your life, that’s your true path to success.

What Does it Matter?

I have been blessed for a long long time with mentors who truly cared about me. Through they years they have offered me a ton of very valuable advice. I always heard the advice they gave me but sometimes, almost always to my detriment, I didn’t listen to it. 

One of the very best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is also one that I too often forget. 

I had a mentor back in my college years who told me that nothing, absolutely nothing, matters unless I allow it to. He said other people’s opinion of me didn’t matter unless I let it matter. He said comments people made about me didn’t matter unless I decided to make them matter. He said again and again, something only mattered if I decided to allow it to matter in my life.

What matters in life is what we allow to matter. What someone else thinks of you should matter far less than what you think of yourself. Someone else’s opinion of what you should be doing with your life can only impact your life decisions if you allow it to.

The challenge we face is knowing what’s truly important to us. If you don’t know what matters to you, what’s truly important, then you have a gap in your decision making abilities that other people are all too willing to fill for you. They fill it with opinions and ideas that matter to them. When you don’t know what’s truly important to you then you will likely give more weight to their opinions than you ought to be giving them.

I’ve never forgotten the great advice that nothing matters unless I allow it to matter. What I have forgotten from time to time is that I need to decide if I’m going to allow something to matter. When I forget I have that choice then everything thing seems to matter. Every opinion, every snide comment, every critical statement takes on significance that it absolutely shouldn’t. 

What I sometimes forget is that just because something is important to someone else doesn’t mean that I need to make it important to me. When I forget that I find myself reacting to what was said instead of thinking about what was said. A good rule of thumb is that if it isn’t going to matter in the future it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot today either.

Don’t allow other people, especially people who you aren’t certain have your best interests in mind, to tell you what matters in your life. You have a choice about what matters to you, it’s one of your life’s most important choices, never give up that choice.