Why set goals?
How clear are you on your future direction? What are your goals – for the next 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years….and beyond?
The Harvard MBA graduate class of 1979 were asked about their future plans and surprisingly 84% of those graduates had no specific goals defined; 13% had goals (but not in writing); and just 3% had clearly formulated, documented goals with associated plans.
A decade later when the graduates were surveyed again, the 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% without goals; and the 3% who had clear, written goals were earning around ten times as much as the rest of the 97% put together.
Whilst we are not suggesting that human worth or success should be determined by financial earnings, this experiment certainly points to the connection between intention and outcome.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence of the value of intentionality, many people don’t have clearly articulated goals that they are proactively working towards. At MindNavigator we’ve come across a number of reasons why people fail to set goals, including:
Lack of clarity – around what they want, or overly focusing on what they don’t want, which can paradoxically create inertia
Lack of prioritisation – maintaining a focus on their options, becoming scattered or stuck in a cycle of procrastination or inertia
Lack of ‘know how’ – difficulty in creating a well formed outcome, resulting in goals that are too general or have poorly formed plans to support them
Lack of flexibility – failing to adjust their goals and remain agile as things change
Lack of structure – feeling an impossibility of ‘the whole’ rather than breaking the big picture down into manageable chunks, which often leads to not even starting
Lack of ownership – moving down a path that is really someone else’s goal for them rather than something they are genuinely committed to
The importance of purpose
Beyond the more technical aspects of goals and goal setting, the most common reason we’ve found for people not achieving goals (even if they have made plans) is more human-centred. It is simply because they don’t have a big enough WHY.
Being clear on your highest intention and the impact you are seeking to have helps inform why you do the work you do, how you engage with others and where you place your energy.
Articulating your intent when engaging with others and proactively enquiring into theirs also supports healthy inter-relating. Not only can you can reduce misunderstandings, you can also invite feedback around optimal ways to achieve the results you’re looking for.
Take a moment to reflect on your values and purpose. What is your highest intention? What is your passion, your purpose? What is it that really moves you?
A concept that can assist with this inquiry is ikigai – a Japanese concept meaning ‘a reason for being’. The island where ikigai has its origins, is said to have the largest population of centenarians in the world. Your ikigai is the convergence of the following key elements:
– What you love (your passion)?
– What the world needs (your mission)?
– What you are good at (your vocation)?
– What you can get paid for (your profession)?
You can read more about finding your ikigai here.