So you have a dream you want to fulfill? Guess what? It ain’t all fun and games!
If you’ve watched Battle Cry or The Word With Friends this week you’ll know we’ve been talking about productivity, goal setting, and motivation. Today I want to bat cleanup in a couple topics that I didn’t quite have time for in those videos.
How You Remind Me
So in Battle Cry I talked about setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This is a way of phrasing goals to make them more tangible and more motivating, because they give you something you can define and track. What I didn’t really get to dive into was the difference between goals, objectives, and drivers.
I know this becomes a very academic subject, and it seems like paperwork, but this can really be the difference in your life between living free or living chained. Today I want to give you some tools you may not have that can make a drastic difference in your life.
The terms “goal” and “objective” often get tossed around interchangeably, and from a linguistic perspective they are fairly uniform, but there are critical differences between them. Author Stephen Bungay, in his book The Art of Action, makes an excellent analogy of goals to war. In war, your objective is to take the hill. There may be spinoff tasks, like surround the enemy, attack at dawn, or destroy cannons, but these all serve to reach the objective of taking control of the hill.
Your objective is your purpose statement, your 50,000-foot view. This answers “what do you want to do?” It’s a big statement; this isn’t just “be a millionaire”, this is “be the largest ice cream shop in the USA.” You need that objective, and you need it defined, because without that you will be like a duck: paddling like hell under the surface, but getting no visible movement above ground. Objectives force you to vocalize what you’re trying to do so you can decide if that’s real or a fantasy. They make you think bigger and decide if you are really committed. Without that, you’re just aimless.
Drivers are your qualifiers: they answer “what will be true when you’ve met the objective?” Drivers are the 1,000-foot view and define the things that need to be true in order for the objective to be met, as well as side-effects of meeting the objective. Take, for example, an objective like “be the largest ice cream shop.” One driver for that might be “have industry-leading customer service,” because if you are going to grow to be the largest shop customer-service would need to be high to get enough repeat business. If your objective is to be in peak physical shape one driver might be “be able to run a 3-minute mile.” The importance of drivers is that they both help to define what success is, and they also help to guide goals because they subdivide the objective into smaller parts.
That leaves goals. Goals are your actionable items. These shouldn’t be confused with task items; “buy a printer” isn’t a goal; it’s a shopping list. Goals are things that take effort, usually multiple hours, on up to weeks or months. Goals are the individual steps that lead to the drivers that take you to your objective. If the driver is to have high customer service a couple goals might be “train employees” and “set up a survey to measure customer satisfaction”. Goals are the nuts and bolts of working toward an objective, because they give you the 1-inch view. Goals are the part of this puzzle you can act on, the piece you can sink your teeth into.
But the other really important thing about goals is that they are flexible; as you get down the path you may change or even throw out a goal. If you want to lose 10 pounds by running daily and you find that running really hurts your right knee, then you give up that goal in favor of something lower-impact. The intent was the weight loss, not the running. And that is the key of well-defined goals: it keeps goals always fresh, always targeted, and if you use the SMART method they are always motivating and in-your-face.
One thing I highly, highly recommend is having a document where you keep your objective, your drivers, and your goals written down somewhere you can access them anywhere. That can be a piece of paper, a notecard, or a simple cloud doc like mine.
The reason for this is twofold: one is that keeping them accessible keeps them in front of your mind and motivates you to work on them. The other reason is that having constant access to them gives you the ability to quickly revise them, and you will find yourself revising quite often in the beginning. Which leads to the second thing I want to talk about today.
A few months ago I posted a vlog about a subject that’s only barely got traction in business, but I find it incredibly useful for personal goals: the retrospective. It’s a nice buzz-wordy term, which I know can be off-putting but let me add to that video some.
The biggest failings most of us have in the world are that we don’t recognize what we do well and we don’t evaluate ourselves. If you think of an athlete, they don’t just get into the pros off talent: they study. They study their opponents, sure, but more importantly they study themselves and their own performance. But we often eschew that kind of analysis as something for other people. That’s just insane, though!
Back to The Art of Action: one of the themes of the book is the difference between output — what we do — and outcomes — the results we achieve. When you think about this in your own life it becomes clear that we often do the same thing: we look to see that we are acting, that we are doing something, when what we should be focused on is that we are achieving the results we want. Running every day to lose weight isn’t a success of you are destroying your knees to do it. The only way focus on what we are achieving is to evaluate what it is we’re doing!
Hanging By A Moment
The best tool I have found in 20 years of searching is the retrospective: a short evaluation form (here’s the one I use) that you fill out daily or weekly. What you accomplished, what you fell short on, what you learned, and what you want to do as a result. It sounds stupid and geeky, but I promise you that if you will commit to doing retrospectives for just 4 weeks you will change your view of them and of yourself.
But the key to successful retrospectives, oddly enough, is to limit them. See, if you need to take 30 minutes of consideration to fill this out you will just never find time to do that. What you want to do is make this a 5-15-minute exercise: pick up the big rocks and leave the rest. The reason for this is simple: you’re training a habit. It’s not that you need this analysis to show you every misstep; the purpose of the exercise is to practice vocalizing your output and evaluating the outcomes. The more you do this the easier it is to recall and define things to go in the form, and the faster you can do it.
It’s Gonna Be Me
I know this isn’t my usual content, and it doesn’t sound very Christian but, believe it or not, every piece of this is backed by Scripture. God put a purpose in your heart, and while we should be free of pressure to perform — because our salvation and His Love are not at all dependent on anything we do — we do have to work to grow, and having a good, solid tool-set to work with is necessary to make that purpose in your heart come to life.
So many people in the world feel trapped in a life they don’t want, doing things they hate. That isn’t living; that’s just life. If you’re in that bucket, I want more for you. God wants more for you. Jesus said we should live, not just have life. And I honestly believe that these simple two little spreadsheet pages can be all the difference. It takes all of an hour to fill out our objectives and goals, and 5-15 minutes a day to evaluate your goals and do your retrospective. And it can change your life.
Can you trust me enough to try this? I really want to take this journey with you, and I want to help you in any way I can. I implore you to give it a try. Copy these two spreadsheets down in some way and fill them out for yourself. Take control of your life. Grab hold of your dreams and bring them to reality. I’m serious: give this a go. Commit for just 4 weeks. At the end you can email me or comment or comment on one of the videos that I’m stupid and wrong, but give it a try. Reach out to me — here, on our Facebook Page, on our YouTube Channel, on Twitter, or even straight-up email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to talk about it with you, guide you through it, and cheer you on.
Father, please let this dry topic come alive in the hearts of those who read. You gave me this training, this skillset, to help people and in Your name I will do it. I have been so excited for this week, because I can feel that I am moving into my purpose. But I need to reach farther, need to serve more. Overcome my limitations, my stupidity and self-loathing, and let them see Your heart and Your will in their lives, in their purpose. I pray this in the name of Your mighty Son, Your Word, Your chosen Christ and my brother, my King, my Savior, and my Teacher Jesus. Amen!