An Effective And Exciting Goal Setting Strategy

By Buffy Greentree

There is a lot of information out there about how to set good goals. And for unknown reasons a lot of that information sets my teeth completely on edge. Yes, I know they should be 'Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Realistic - Timely' (aka SMART), but who wants to be smart when setting goals? Where is the fun in that?

Instead, imagine if the process of setting and achieving goals was an exciting adventure in itself? What if they were an Indiana Jones movie, instead of a workplace professional development video?

How does my little analogy work? Follow me!

(It helps a lot if you have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you haven't, just search on YouTube 'Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark Famous Scene'.)

You should first see the goal in front of you like an idol (this is just for illustration purposes, as a Christian I never recommend idolatry, unless you like plagues). Can you see it? Gleaming on its little pedestal asking to be reached? Good. This is your goal, what you want to achieve and take back home.

Now look at the bag of sand you have been carrying and work out if you have enough sand for the weight of your idol. Sand is the every day material that you will need to give up: time, resources, money, etc. How heavy is your idol? How much will you have to hand over in order to achieve it? Do you have enough?

You hold your breath as you test out your theory - is there really enough sand there to take the weight of the idol? When you schedule in all the time you will need to spend on your goal, is there enough there? You celebrate when you pull it free - you have just agreed to a goal you believe you can reach.

But wait! That is not the end. You still need to get out of the cave with your goal to realize it. It doesn't count until you are safely back home with the idol. It's usually once you have decided on a goal that everything in your life tries to stop you from achieving it.

You begin running. For Indiana, the first obstacle was a pit with stakes. For you it might be difficulty meeting your mortgage payment, or a sudden change in circumstances.

Someone will suggest throwing them the idol and they will give you the help you need to cross the pit. Maybe it is in exchange for a sensible job, just for a little bit so you can pay the bills.

You can throw them the idol, and struggle to the end of the cave, but then you have gone through almost as much effort, and have nothing to show for it at the end. Trying to win back the idol afterwards is a whole lot harder.

Maybe you are brave and you keep hold of it, working out some way through yourself. But then life might throw a giant, rolling boulder at you. Just remember, as long as you are running towards the entrance, it is all good.

Obviously, when you break free of the cave with your goal, there will always be people who want to cut you down and criticize you. Therefore, think like Indie, have an escape plan set up to enjoy the results of having fully achieved your goal.

That is the way I think goals should be dealt with. A lot more exciting and adventurous than being SMART.

The final thing this model teaches us is that if your goal is not worth the sand you are trading it for, or you are not prepared to jump across pits of stakes for it, then it's not a very good goal. Stick with your sand and your day job.

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