Posts Tagged With: Clarity

Clear Goals & Objectives

Clear goals and objectives are essential to the success of any business, and this is no less true of building your own career. If you don’t take the time to get really clear about exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish, then you’re forever doomed to spend your life achieving the goals of those who do. In the absence of a clear direction for your life, you will either meander aimlessly or you will build a career that you don’t feel good about. You may make some money, and you may do some interesting work, but the end result will not resemble anything you ever made a conscious decision to build, and ultimately you will be left with the sinking feeling that maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. Do you ever look at your career and think to yourself, “How on earth did I get here?”

If setting goals is so critically important, then why is it that so few people take the time to define exactly where they want to go? Part of the reason is a lack of knowledge about how to set clear goals. You can go through years of schooling and never receive any instruction on goal setting at all. A failure to understand the immense importance of establishing clear goals is also common. But those who truly know what they want often outperform everyone else by an enormous degree.

A frequent deterrent to goal setting is the fear of making a mistake. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Setting virtually any goal at all is better than drifting aimlessly with no clear direction. The best way I know to guarantee failure is to avoid making clear, committed decisions. Every day is already a mistake if you don’t know where you’re going. You’re probably spending most of your time working to achieve other people’s goals. The local fast food restaurant, TV advertisers, and the stockholders of the businesses you patronize are all very happy for that. If you don’t decide what you really want, then you’ve decided to hand your future over to the whims of others, and that’s always a mistake. By taking hold of the reins yourself and deciding where you’d like to go, you gain a tremendous sense of control that most people never experience in their entire lives.

Many people assume that because they have a direction, they must therefore have goals, but this is not the case and merely creates the illusion of progress. “Making more money” and “building a business” are not goals. A goal is a specific, clearly defined, measurable state. An example of the difference between a direction and a goal is the difference between the compass direction of northeast and the top of the Eiffel Tower in France. One is merely a direction; the other is a definite location.

“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” –Aristotle

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Clarity Is A Choice

Career just meandering along ? Life following a course of it’s own ?

Maybe your focus needs to be clearer. If it is all just waking up each morning and seeing what happens, then it is absolutely crucial that you take the time to decide and write down exactly where it is you want to go. How much longer will you continue to climb the ladder of success, only to realize too late that it was leaning against the wrong building? Just pick a point in the future, whether it’s six months from now or five years from now, and spend a few hours writing out a clear description of where you want to be at that time. I know many people who aren’t sure where they want to go, so they avoid committing anything to writing in order to “keep their options open.” What would happen if you pursued that attitude to its logical conclusion? If you always kept your options open and never made any firm commitments, then you’d never get promoted, start your own business, get married, have a family, move to that new home, etc. except to the degree that someone else made that decision for you.

I used to have a friend like this, who still hasn’t decided what he wants to do with his life. He yields control of his life to others without even realizing it, simply because he’s unwilling to take the time to define a vision for his own life out of fear of making the wrong choice. His life is ruled by others who push their goals onto him, which he accepts by default. Ask yourself if you’re in the same boat. If a friend of yours became totally committed to getting you to change something in your life at random — your career, your living situation, your relationship, etc. — could s/he do it just by being absolutely certain and committed that it’s the right thing for you? Could a business associate come along and radically alter your plans for the week without you ever deciding consciously that such a change is consistent with your goals? We all suffer from problems like these to the degree that we fail to set clear goals for ourselves. There is a big difference between recognizing and acting on a true opportunity and being knocked off course without making a conscious decision to shift gears.

Waiting for something to inspire you and hoping that the perfect outcome will just fall into your lap is nothing but a fantasy. Clear decision-making won’t happen passively; you actually have to physically put in the time to make it happen. If you don’t have clear goals simply because you don’t know what you want, then sit down and actively decide what you want. That sense of knowing what you want isn’t going to just come to you in a form of divine inspiration. Clarity is a choice, not an accident or a gift. Clarity doesn’t come to you — you have to go to it. Not setting goals is the same thing as deciding to be a slave to the goals of others.

“The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.” – Conan O’Brien

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