When Goals Matter – Part Three

Hopefully since my last post you’ve been considering those activities you do with some regularity that provide you with no return on your time investment. Your odds of accomplishing anything new go way up when you’re prepared to give up something old to get it. I guess maybe that’s what “they” mean when they say life is full of trade-offs.

 

If you’re indeed serious about stopping something in order to start something new you’ll need to set a stop goal with as much specificity and accountability as any other goal. We’ll talk about those goal setting characteristics in our next post but the key thing to remember is that a stop goal is indeed a goal and the same rules apply if you plan on achieving it. Old habits die hard and unless you’re very intentional about killing them they tend to linger on indefinitely.

 

There is no magic to the number of goals you have but keep in mind if you’re focusing on 21 different things you actually have no focus at all. Prioritizing your goals in order to focus is a key to actually achieving them. It’s also perfectly okay, in fact it’s good practice, to occasionally adjust and rethink your goals.

 

If you’re serious about goal setting then it’s vital that you be honest with yourself. If you have a goal to be debt-free in 3 years then don’t try to convince yourself that you can go three years and never spurge on something. Build the occasional spurge into your goals, discipline is important in achieving goals but so is realism. Being overly aggressive when setting goals causes frustration and frustration is a short path to failure.

 

Your formal goal-setting process begins by determining your vision and your mission. You should write out an actual vision and mission statement to guide you through your goal-setting and your life. Your vision statement is a description of where you are going in life and what it will look like when you get there. Make it fun, make it appealing and make it truthful. This is YOUR vision, don’t be talked out of it by someone who wants to run your life. It’s hard enough to achieve your own goals; you’ll find it nearly impossible and totally unfulfilling trying to achieve someone else’s. 

 

Once you have your vision statement you’re ready to develop your mission statement. This is a statement that sums up the direction you want your life to take in the future. That direction should be leading you directly to your vision. Once developed your mission will become the driving force behind your goals, both personal and professional. 

 

Goals always matter but when you’re on a mission you’ll find that goals really really matter.

 

By the way, if you’re still wondering about those stop goals then a mission statement can really come in handy. If you’re doing something too frequently that doesn’t help you accomplish your mission then you may want to set a stop goal around it. That allows you to focus more energy on the things that do help you accomplish your mission.


In my next post I’ll discuss the areas of your life you may want to consider setting goals and exactly what a true goal looks like. Until then start thinking about your vision and mission. Understanding, with great specificity, where you want to go in life is absolutely essential if you truly hope to get there.


Good Decisions

The right decision made at the wrong time is a bad decision. The right time to make a decision is when you have as many facts as you can get to make it. Sometimes it will be all the facts, sometimes it will be enough facts and sometimes you’ll have to make a decision with less facts than you would want. 

But if you intend to lead then you have to make decisions period!

Once you have all the facts available, whether you believe it’s enough facts or not, you must make a decision. Deciding not to make a decision or deciding to delay a decision IS A DECISION and it is frequently the wrong decision. In fact, it’s worse than a wrong decision because a wrong decision can be fixed, a “non-decision” often cannot.

I see people all the time who have the facts required to make a decision and yet just can’t bring themselves to make it. They think and think, rethink and rethink, sleep on it and still don’t come to a decision. 

When they finally decide something it’s often too late to have the positive impact that a more timely decision would have had.

I believe one of the major causes of poor decision making is a lack of awareness of values, vision, and mission. 

When faced with a decision ask yourself how each possible decision will align with your values. Does the decision get you closer to your vision or not?  Does the choice you would make “fit” with your mission? 

Here’s the real challenge: when asked, most people can’t clearly state their values, either their personal values or the values of their organization. Most every organization has some sort of vision and or mission statement but they are no better than a slogan unless people know what they are and actually align themselves to them. A vision and mission statement should be used to guide every decision made in the organization. 

If something doesn’t get you closer to your vision then why on earth would you do it. If something is contrary to your values or the values of your organization then your choice is clear…and much easier.

When you know AND live your values every decision is easier. When you understand your mission, either in business or in life, then every decision becomes clear. 

It requires some serious reflection to truly understand your values. You will also find your values much easier to know than to live. But that’s okay, values can not only help to keep you on track, they can help you get back on track when you fall off the rails.

When you know, really know, what your true values are, when you understand your mission and have a vision for your life and business then you will find yourself not only making faster decisions, you’ll find yourself making much better decisions too.

My Personal Mission Statement

Do you know who you are? Really? Do you know what you stand for? Really? Do you know what, with great specificity, your core values are? Really?

Those are not questions easily answered, nor should they be. They are serious questions and when you can really answer them, your life, and your life mission becomes much clearer.

Your adherence to the mission statement that you create makes your life decisions much easier and much more consistent.

You may not always like the decision you come up with but it will align with who you truly are. You’ll be less likely to be influenced by peer pressure and the latest fads. When you understand yourself, REALLY understand yourself, happiness, fulfillment, and a life you value are all easier to achieve.

I created something several years ago that has made a significant difference in my life. It’s my personal mission statement. It is indeed deeply personal but I share it with the hope that it may inspire you to create one for yourself. It’s really not the mission statement that has made the difference, it’s the time I invested to answer the questions needed to create it that has allowed me to really know myself.

A couple of things about your mission statement: It’s yours and yours alone. Don’t make it what you think other people want you or it to be. Don’t change who you are because other people don’t like something about you. I will change myself for God, for my wife, for the very few people who TRULY care about me, and for me, that’s about it. As Popeye said, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.”

I readily admit to certain “flaws” and I work to correct those that I choose, the rest I choose to live with and those who allow me into their lives must live with them too.

So, here is my Personal Mission Statement:

To find happiness, fulfillment, and value in living I will:

LEAD a God centered life around the principles of integrity, excellence, service to others, and trustworthiness.

REMEMBER what’s important in life is God, family, happiness, free time, peace of mind, security, and wealth, not only financial wealth but also in spirit and positive attitude.

REVERE admirable characteristics in others, such as being compassionate, committed, caring, principle-centered, moral, and balanced, and attempt to implement similar characteristics in my own life.

RECOGNIZE my strengths and develop talents as a person who is responsible, trustworthy, a communicator, entertaining, generous, a leader, and a speaker.

HUMBLE myself by acknowledging that I can be sarcastic, egotistical, wrong about most anything at most any time, and narrow-minded and by constantly striving to transform my weaknesses into strengths.

ENVISION myself becoming a person who:
     Bud thinks is witty, dependable, and enthusiastic.
     Josh and Sarah think is caring, loving, giving, and trustworthy.
     Brad thinks is committed, creative, and organized.
     Vicki thinks is faithful, loving, giving, and caring.

 

Now, for those of you who know me you may not agree with everything in my mission statement, that’s okay, it’s mine, not yours. You may recognize that I don’t always live up to my mission statement and that’s okay too; I recognize that as well but I also recognize that I am a work in progress.

Sharing my Personal Mission Statement with several hundred thousand people may be one of the most giving things I’ve ever done or it may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done… with sharing comes accountability… I guess time will tell.

If you’re willing to invest the time to honestly answer the type of “self questions” required to create your own Personal Mission Statement you will make a difference in your life. The best thing about making a difference in your life is that it’s the first step to making a difference in the lives of those you care about.

A personal mission statement doesn’t automatically make you a better person. It does however, if you take the exercise of creating it seriously, give you a roadmap on how to improve yourself.

I hope you’ll seriously consider creating your own roadmap to how YOU want to live YOUR life.