Historical Goal Setting: Why What You've Always Done Isn't Working

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Today, I wanted to take a deeper dive into something I discussed in the inaugural episode of my TV show, The Brilliance Cafe. 

Haven't seen it yet? Watch here.

As many of us are using this month to review and begin planning for 2022, I wanted to especially focus on goal setting. 

What many of us know as goal setting is actually based on historical performance - what we already know, what we can calculate or measure, and how we have been able to perform in the past. 

Say, for instance, your revenue in your business has grown by 3% each year over the past five years. You set your goal based on that 3%, and maybe try to be a little brave. You shoot for 5%, or even more brave, 10% growth. 

There are automatically some limiting thoughts springing up, even as you write that down. "I worked so hard last year, I can't think of working even more to make that 5%."

Then, the social aspect comes in - what if I am open with this goal and I miss it? What would people think of me? What would my partners or associates think of me? 

Really, it comes down to this burning question: What if I fail?

Friend, you can't do something you've never done, based on what you've already accomplished. 

You don't have context for the brave new future you want to build - because you haven't been there yet! 

Your historical past says nothing about your future potential or even your future performance. 

Secondly, goal-setting in this way is a perfect setup for hustle, hustle, hustle....and burnout. Followed by the guilt, shame, and self-recrimination that goes with that cycle. 

Yes, it may be specific and measurable, which is also comfortable. There's also no emotion. 

Which also means there's no excitement. Does thinking about your action steps or your executable strategy excite you? 

Yeah, me neither. 

It's the numbers, usually money or hours, that we actually get excited about. It's what those numbers represent. 

The freedom, the financial security, the time. 

So, how do you create an executable plan you are actually excited to do?

You start by aligning your goals with your priorities.  Take some time to think about your main priorities, and extend your goals out from those priorities. 

If your family is your priority, what does a goal that supports that priority look like? Is it more time with your family? More vacation time? Family dinners? 

What about your professional priorities? Is your goal a promotion, a pay increase, a specific position? 

Do this process through each area of your life, including relationships, recreation and hobbies, physical health, mental health, etc. 

Keep in mind your priorities are like the spokes of a wheel - the goal is balance. Have you ever ridden in a car with unbalanced tires? Feels a little wonky, doesn't it? 

The more balanced we are, the smoother the ride through our daily life. 

Keep in mind your goals are designed to be a bit more fluid- life is going to happen, and you're going to need to be able to adjust accordingly. You may get sick, and you achieve your goal of losing 15lbs in a matter of days. That doesn't necessarily mean you're healthier.  You may lose your job, and have to take your side hustle full time before you're "ready." 

Your goal should be to plan a way for your priorities to remain balanced, and a part of your daily life - not just a list on paper.