This is a message for those of us who do not like setting goals. I am like you.

Perhaps you ignored my recent post on the topic at Perhaps you read it and did nothing about it. It was nothing more than Goals Porno. (Ew.)

For most of my life, I didn't set goals. A professional colleague once asked me why: "Everywhere I have ever worked, there was a goal on the wall. Why is there no ambitious goal on the wall?"

Because I disdained goals. They felt like the first step in a prolonged game of Blame 'n' Shame. (Every play Blame 'n' Shame? Bet I can beat you.) I would imagine, 12 months later, scolding myself like a bad dog.

Didn't meet your goals.
And on the carpet, no less.
Bad dog.
Bad Artie.


So, for most of my life, I didn't set goals.

I'm not the goal-setting type.
I prefer to wing it. That's my strength. I'm a wingnut. 

Goals seem too limiting. Or too ambitious. Or both. Or neither. In any case, they remind me of the Five Year Plans of the USSR. (And how did that work out for the Soviets?)

I prefer improvisation. Live right. Just keep the intention clear. 

Oh, wait: "intention." That's a helpful word here. What is my intention? What do I intend to accomplish this year?

Even an improviser needs goals. Not high-falutin' conceptual goals. Just a few goals — a few things I'd like to get done around here.

So here's a how to set goals. 
Right now, imagine it's December 2016.

We are sitting for a cup of tea and chatting.

You say: "Holy Topeka, it sure is warm out. Will it ever snow?"

I say: "Say, how was your year?"

You say: "It was great."

I say: "Oh, yeah? That's super duper. But let me ask this: how do you know? What happened that makes you so happy about 2016?" 

What do you say? How would you know it was a great year? 

Make a list right now of the ways you would know if 2016 was a great year. 

Make your goals SMARTY.
Now look at that list and translate each item into a goal:
  • Keep it to no more than four goals. Keep it to four, so you maximize the probability that you achieve them all. (Covey taught that, the more goals you have, the less likely you will accomplish them. And if you have too many, you won't reach any of them.)
  • Let them percolate. Are these truly your highest ambitions? Do other goals arise to win a spot on the list? Keep it to four.
  • Make them SMARTY goals:
    Everyone talks about SMART goals. I like 'em SMARTY:
    • S — Specific and Savvy
    • M — Measurable and Meaningful
    • A — Attainable and Ambitious and Actionable
    • R — Realistic and Relevant
    • T — Timely and Time-allocated
    • Y — Yours. I added this one, because you want goals that you can attain without relying on someone else's success, so you never blame the failure to meet your goal on others. (Good example of a bad goal: get my kid into college. It's important and noble, but it relies on the kid, doesn't it? This is your goal, wingnut, not the kid's.) 

Now put the list away.

Start from scratch in a couple days. Do that again and again. Not revising the list. Starting over each time. It gets faster, the good goals stick around and get smarty-er, and you don't polish any rotten apples through endless revision. 

But It's Too Late To Set 2016 Goals!
Nice try. No it's not. January was made for goal setting.


What are my goals?

  • Business: Master Chair Performance. This is a designation for Vistage chairs whose groups meet specific metrics. I believe these metrics collaboratively serve corporate goals, as well as the members, my, and local community objectives. A summary of the more complicated formula:
    • 14+ members in each group, and
    • 85%+ retention, and
    • 45%+ of CE/SB members sponsoring 1+ key executives or 14+ members in Key groups.
  • Professional Leadership: Visit Four Chairs. I will travel out of town to attend group meetings chaired by other chairs to better understand group dynamics. Setting this goal has caused me to go ahead and schedule four visits to Cincinnati groups during 2016.
  • Family: ≤36 Nights Away. ("Away" means "away from Alisa," so if we are traveling together it doesn't count against this limit.) While pondering this goal, I flipped through the 2016 calendar and counted exactly 36 scheduled nights away, which is too close to the limit. So, first I wondered if I might increase the limit! Weak! But then, that led to a discussion of Alisa traveling with me more and a couple of those nights being traded for next morning travel. Setting this goal has already helped improve my life!
  • Personal: Protect WAG. Monica works to keep each month's WAG (Week After Group meetings) available for speaking, writing, travel and Alisa. This week keeps me fresh for diligent focus on a predictable schedule of coaching and group meetings during the first 3.3 weeks.

The first one is a stretch goal; I don't think I can get there in one year. Maybe. The second and fourth are available simply through discipline. The fourth goal is important — and always under attack by my Inner Squirrel's love of shiny opportunities. 

Holding Myself Accountable
How about my goals for last year? I got pretty close! Accomplished two out of three of them — and am still working on the book with Matt.

Good boy! Treat!

Still don't know what your goals might be?
Here are some suggestions. Take what you want. Replace the others.

  • Get certified as a Hospice Volunteer. Be someone's last new friend. Here's where:
  • Learn enough Spanish to chat poorly. I took classes at Columbus State a few years ago and found them extraordinarily well taught. Here you go:
  • Read eight books from your tenth grade English class. You are finally ready to understand why they were assigned! Start here:
  • Cut your debt by __%. Fill in the blank. Fill in the bank. Here are some debt-cutting ideas I barely read:

C'mon. You can do it.

Sit! Set some goals. Good doggie!