When it’s time to ditch your goals

At the beginning of this year, inspired by Michael Hyatt’s goal planning course, I set out to make 2015 my best year ever.

I set audacious goals, reviewed them regularly (a minimum of once per week), set the big rocks in my calendar and set the tasks needed to achieve them in Omnifocus.

But some time in the last couple of months, I’ve started to feel internal resistance to following through on them.  My friend, David, had the courtesy to poke me with a sharp stick recently, and challenged me to revisit my commitment level to achieving my goals this year.

So I spent some time this week re-evaluating my goals and have come away with a renewed vision and sense of purpose.

I also learned some powerful lessons in the process:

1. Some goals are like an old pair of underwear

If they stink and have holes in them, throw ‘em out.  I realized that several of my goals for 2015 no longer pointed me in the direction that I wanted to go.  As a result, they became a distraction and a discouragement to me, instead of an inspiration.  These were the first to get ditched.

2. Vanity goals don’t have staying power.

One of my goals for this year was to see one of our businesses hit $5M in yearly revenue.  Although this has been our best year so far, by every metric, I realized that “bragging rights” (or perhaps “self-worth”) was my primary motivation for this goal.

The truth is, vanity is a crap motivator for me, and doesn’t sustain me through the slough between the beginning and the end.

Plus, if I were to focus all of my efforts on hitting that number, it would take away from some of the slow-brew efforts that have much better long-term potential (and that really get my fire burning). So I ditched another one.

3. It’s never too late to add new goals for the year.

In ditching some old goals, I realized I had capacity for a new stretch goal for the year.  This particular goal is perfectly aligned with my vision for the future, and will have an impact on all of next year when I hit it.

4. Goal setting is just a tool.

I’m VERY motivated by goals.  But sometimes I let them become my master, and forget that they are simply a motivational tool to achieve the things that are important to me.

I’m going to be more deliberate from this point forward to regularly review my goals to see if they are still serving me. If not, I’ll (you guessed it) ditch them.

5. “Standing for…” is not the same as “hoping to…”

I forced myself to evaluate each goal under the lens of this question: “Is this something I’m willing to stand for this year?”  If I’m not willing to really commit to achieving it, I don’t want it dividing my focus.  If I can’t find it in myself to truly stand for a goal, it needs to go.

6. Sometimes a goal just needs a haircut

You ever notice how much of a difference a trim will do to your appearance and confidence?  Sometimes a goal is almost right, but not quite.  I had two goals that could be tweaked, and version 2.0 was something I could stand for, so I did that instead.

As a result of the lessons I learned, here are the changes I made…

  1. I actually took a few minutes to celebrate the three big goals I DID accomplish so far this year (and they were my most important ones).  When we get home from our current road trip, we’re going to throw a party for ourselves to celebrate a couple of big successes we had this year as a result of these goals.
  2. I ditched three goals.  One was a vanity goal, one was no longer relevant, and one was good, but not compelling enough for me to stand for this year.
  3. I recommitted to five goals.  Two of them I’ll be done in the next couple of weeks, I gave two of them a haircut, and came up with 1 new one that I’m really excited about.

I now have a new fire my in belly and am 100% committed to hitting these goals.

When I go on my planning retreat for 2016, I will be more selective on the goals I set (no vanity goals, and a real gut-check on my willingness to stand for them), and will review and revise them throughout the year so they’re serving me, and not the other way around.

Are you standing for your goals this year? Do you have the courage to ditch the ones that are no longer serving you?

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