By being clear on where you want to end up in life.
Think of a journey, you’d never just get in your car with a half a tank of gas and randomly drive, hoping to end up somewhere fun. Instead, you’d know where you want to end up, fill up the gas tank, and plug the destination into your GPS. With the plan, you know how to succeed.
That’s what we’re talking about this week. Join Justin and Elise as they talk about how to create the life plan and vision of living life on purpose.
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“Hieb, this isn’t going to happen again. We’re going to get him next time. Set the goal. Focus on it. Put your energy into it.”
Those were the words from my high school wrestling coach after a tough loss. A regional match my junior year set me into a favorable matchup for state placing.
I was wrestling Blake, a decent wrestler from a school less than an hour away. My record was better. My skills were better. My coaching was better. I was set. A quick win and I was off to state, ranked in the top ten.
Given all those advantages, I overlooked Blake to prepare for state the next weekend.
Blake beat me. On a late third period comeback, he got a reversal and won 8-7. My failure to prepare for the object right in front of me meant that my end destination was changed. Instead of a favorable seeding in the state tournament, I was on the outside looking in.
That loss took me out of the top ten and into the bottom four. I faced the number two wrestler in the state (and eventual state winner) in the first round and lost. Then in the losers bracket, I lost again.
What had started as a promising season ended in bitter defeat. 0-2 in the state tournament and a long offseason to think about the final thirty seconds of a match that was still eating away at me.
That’s when coach pulled me aside and told me to write my goals down for next season. Even in the pain and through the tears, focus on where I wanted to go. How did I want my senior season to end? How did I want to be remembered?
Begin With The End in Mind
That day, I wrote down three goals to focus on:
1.) Beat Blake
2.) Make it to state
3.) Set the school record in reversals.
For an entire year, those were my goals. Every extra practice. Every meal. Every weight training session.
“Beat Blake” became my mantra.
At the start of the next wrestling season, Coach Z put my goals on the board for everyone to see. Now, I was accountable to the entire team.
Every day at 3:30, the music would start, the reps would begin and my entire focus became to “Beat Blake.”
The final regular-season tournament of the season pitted me against Blake in the championship match, with regional and state seeding positions on the line. As I stepped on to the mat, Coach Z pulled me aside, “You’ve worked a year for this match. It’s time to finish.”
Three minutes later, I stepped off the mat and something along the lines of, “Rabid Wolverine” was hurled at me as they raised my arm in victory. From a close loss to a dominating win, I finished my objective and beat Blake.
Goals Create Clarity
Goals create clarity. Put another way, when we begin with the end in mind, we know what we’re aiming for.
By creating focus, instilling discipline, and getting clear on our life ambition, we know how to put a plan in place to help us reach our ultimate destination.
Or, think of it this way: As you near the end of your life, sit in your favorite rocking chair on the front porch of your house, answer these three questions:
1.) What are you glad you accomplished?
2.) What do you want to be remembered for?
3.) What are some of the things you’re most thankful for?
I’ve never coached someone who has answered those questions, “I think I need to spend more time at work.” Or, “My life would be better if I’d burn the candle at both ends a bit more.” Or, “Everyone wins if I’d ignore my family more for a few more late nights of office paperwork.”
Instead, when we think about where we want to end up, we then know how to create the plan to get us there.
I often tell people that coaching is a lot of “reverse engineering.” We get clear on where we want to go and why that’s important to us. Then we create the “how” piece of the puzzle.
We begin with the end in mind and then create the roadmap to success.
Working With Passion and Purpose
Work is a large part of our everyday lives. Whether your work is as a stay at home parent, a business executive, an entrepreneur, or as a skilled service provider. Whatever it is that you have been called to for “work” at this stage of life is vital. For you. For your family. For your employees. For the economy.
God has created you to not just work but work with meaning.
This is accomplished by getting clear on what makes our work significant. We do that by knowing where we want to end up in life, and what makes that important to us. We bring purpose to our work when we begin with the end in mind.
When we know the how and why of our work, the rest becomes clear. When we know where we want to end up, we know how to create a plan that will get us there. When we begin with the end in mind, we will spend our days on tasks that help us “Beat Blake” every time we need to.
After my college graduation, I had a conversation with my older brother about what was next in life. Everyone, it seemed, had a keen interest in me up to that point. They always wanted to know I wanted to be when I grew up, what college I was going to, and what I was going to major in.
But I never had one conversation about what happened after that. How do I start a successful marriage (I didn’t do that one well)? How do I grow in emotional health (took a lot of trips to the therapist’s office)? How do I pass on key values to my children (still figuring that one out…)?
The problem was that no one had taught me how to set goals for what came after graduation.
I wasted a lot of time (and hurt a lot of people) because I was a goalless drifter.
People without goals are people without a future.
Ready, Set, Goal!
One key to sustainable success is the daily habit of setting, reviewing, and reestablishing goals.
One of my practices is to use Michael Hyatt’sFull Focus Planner. I’ve used it for over a year now and absolutely love both the structure and order it gives me, while also allowing a great deal of freedom in the process.
I’ve also discovered the power of paper and what it means to write goals down. It’s easy to think, “My goal is…” because we often forget it. But by writing goals down, it not only gives us a visual reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish but cements it into our brain better.
By getting clear and specific on what we are aiming at, we gain a strategic advantage to sustainable success. The key discipline though is to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.
When you’re ready to say, “Ready, Set, Goal!” you must begin by making sure you have the right format.
S: Specific. Make sure the goals you set are clear on the intended destination. Don’t think, “Lose weight.” Instead write, “I want to lose twenty pounds.”
M: Measurable. Similar to specific, measurable makes sure that what you’re aiming for can actually be hit. Avoid using jargon or filler words in your goal-setting times. Don’t think, “Be more productive.” Instead, write that you want to, “Use my time wisely by spending no more than thirty minutes a day on social media.” Ouch. That one may hurt a bit, but it’s measurable. You can use apps or the integrated Apple Screen Time (if you’re an iPhone user) to track how you’re spending your time on your phone.
A: Actionable. Start your goals with action-oriented verbs (as opposed to “to-be” verbs). This focuses your attention on what needs to be accomplished. Don’t write, “Be better at date nights.” Instead, try, “Take my spouse on one date night every week.” Now you know how to take action to accomplish your goal.
R: Realistic. This one can be challenging, and we’ll talk about short and long term goals in a second. But realism is important in goal setting. Too often, goals fail because they either don’t inspire us or are unattainable. Realistic goals should do both. “Complete my ebook and submit to the publisher by the end of quarter three.” This goal meets the first three points and is entirely realistic (even if you’re not very far into your book). However creating a goal like, “Establish the first hotel chain on the moon by the end of the year” meets the first three steps in the process, but not the last one. To take action that inspires, your goal must be reasonable.
T: Timely. Put some hustle in it. This is where I work hard with my clients to push ourselves on our goals. Strive for greatness and see what you can do. If your goal is to gain three new speaking opportunities for your business, fantastic! But put yourself under a time constraint to reach that goal. “Acquire three new speaking opportunities by the end of August.” It’s clear, concise, and gives you a visible target to know if you’ve hit your goal. It also pushes you to keep working and avoid drifting from your goal. The end of August is coming up quick after all.
E: Exciting. Your goals should scare you a little bit. If not, you’ll never grow. This is honestly one of my big descriptors for the clients that I work with. We always work a little scared. If you’re making $50,000 a year and want to work with me, and your goal is to make $50,000 next year as well, we probably won’t be a good fit. You still might have some great goals, but I want my clients to push themselves. My clients are making $50,000 but want to make $125,000. They know they need to get serious about pursuing their dreams.
And it works in all areas of life too. Want a better marriage? Don’t take your spouse on four dates a year, take them on two a week. That shows me you’re serious about reprioritizing your schedule to thrive in your relationship.
R: Relevant. This one matters, but more in the daily habits of life. I regularly review my goals to make sure they are still what I want. Every year, I sit down and try to project out a year to set goals throughout. A number of times I’ve set a goal in January, gotten to May, and then realized it was no longer relevant. That’s not a bad thing! Those goals pushed me and stretched me in new ways that have forever changed me. But in that growth process, I realized that I needed to rechart my course and set a new destination.
Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals and start a new direction. That’s the fun part of goal setting.