How to Know Your Goals Suck….And What to Do About it

I’m a big fan of accountability. Especially public accountability. Some of the things I am most proud of accomplishing were achieved simply because I told so many people what I was doing that I felt huge pressure to deliver lest I lost face. But that sort of thing only works on good goals. And by good goals I mean goals that don’t suck. And by goals that suck, I mean goals that never will and never can get done.

What’s A Good Goal Look Like?

Defined End States

In soccer, a goal is a goal when the ball goes in the net. In football it’s a touchdown if you get the ball in the paint. Sports being life depicted in a microcosm have well-defined, easily identifiable ways to know if you win or are on track for winning. Good goals are the same. You need to have an end point.

Check your current list of goals. Does it have an end point? No? Then it sucks. “My goal is to be the best martial artist, ever.” “My goal is to be the best Dad I can be.” Really? Thanks for sharing @#$er! How do you plan on measuring that? How will you know when you’re done?

Value

In today’s world there is a never-ending list of crap we must do. Everything isn’t a goal. Some things we do have absolutely no value. Why we humans do that sort of thing is beyond me. We don’t make sense. I think Seth would refer here to our Lizard Brains.

Do you goals have value? What will happen if you achieve them? What will happen if you don’t? What is worth doing is a different conversation entirely. Just make sure those goals have value or else you’re just wasting your time.

Time Boxed

Just like the milk in your refrigerator, goals should have an expiration date. No one wants to hear again and again and again about your goal to write the Great American Novel. Back to sports, everything has a time limit. 15 minute quarters, 3 minute rounds, 9 innings. Time waits for no goal.

Do you goals have a time period?

How to Fix Sucky Goals

No End State?

Make an end point for your goal. Stand up and paint an end zone on your goal. Tie a finish line across it. Define what success is. Be specific. Phrases like “I want to lose weight” suck. There’s too much ambiguity in that statement.

No Value?

Examine why in the world you’re doing this. Life is short and time is a preciously limited in quantity. You can do something better with your time.

No Time Box?

Put an expiration date on that baby! Give yourself a well-defined chunk of time to get it done it. Now let’s see if that goal doesn’t stand a much better chance of getting done now! Try starting with 3 days and expand as necessary.

What if that Doesn’t Work?

To paraphrase George Carlin here; “It’s time to drop some of your needs!”

If you can’t fix your goals by simple modification, they probably aren’t really goals to begin with. There more like the senseless ramblings of an empty suit. So drop kick them to the curb and move on with your day. This time with goals that don’t suck.

Real World Examples of Sucky Goals

As I have mentioned earlier, I am a big fan of public accountability. I even have a space on the side of this blog dedicated to goals I have achieved and ones that are currently in progress. The problem is that those goals have been there for months and they can’t possibly move? Why? They have no end state, they have no time box, and they have very little value. Fail, fail, and fail.

The funny thing is that I am working and producing more today than I have ever in my life. I am constantly busy. Doing what, right? If the things I am doing have value they should be able to be well defined and broken into discreet chunks. I should be able to then martial my resources as I have them to best achieve them. Hmmm… methinks I need some good, new goals.

What goals are you working on? Do they suck? How are you doing on them? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

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