I know this won't resonate with everyone out there, but I invite you to keep reading anyway.
I have ALWAYS struggled with the process of goal setting. Always.
Knowing exactly where I want to be at the end of the year is difficult for me. It always has been. One of my most dreaded interview questions was, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" That question would bring immediate constriction to my throat. I've never had a "career plan" and never knew what my next job would be until I got there. Even when I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. It took me several years to land in Human Resources, where I ultimately stayed for 14 years - but only because I was able to grow into new roles and focus on what I enjoyed doing most. My preference with my professional endeavors has always been to stay open, to see what opportunities emerge.
My view of goals is that they are future-focused, usually on something we want to do or achieve, some desired end state. As I noted in yesterday's blog post, this tripped me up a bit in 2014 as it related to the revenue goal I set for myself.
Last year, I had an overall intention of growth and I set three goals: in addition to the revenue goal I mentioned yesterday, I also wanted to facilitate my first retreat by the end of the year, and I wanted to have at least 40 new and different experiences in 2014.
I wrote about the revenue goal in yesterday's post. What I'll add today is that with this goal, I did document specific action steps to take, which I thought would help me achieve the goal. When that didn't work out, I scrapped the goal and the plan. The goal became much less measurable: I wanted to integrate my values into my work and life, make my passions my business, and attract the clients I was meant to serve. There were no specific action steps, there was no plan for how to do that, no checklist to complete. But by the end of the year, I said with confidence that I accomplished the goal.
With the other two goals I wrote last year, I did not create a specific plan. There were no action steps documented. I knew I wanted to facilitate my first retreat - but I didn't know how or when it would happen and I never "got around" to writing a plan to make it happen. I just released it out into the Universe and let it be. And then something amazing happened. I met another coach and we had a spark. A few months later, she asked if I would co-facilitate a retreat with her and a third coach. Because I was open to the possibility of this experience, it was easy to say yes. The retreat came together in a matter of a few short months and it was an amazing experience (you can get a sense of that on our website). And now we are gearing up to do it again. But more than that, I gained two dear friends from the experience.
My third goal was to have 40 new and different experiences last year. I never generated a list of what those experiences would be. Instead, I looked for opportunities to try new things, to lean into fears. I exceed the number of 40 - by a long shot - without a plan. And that too, was amazing. I learned so much about myself and did things that I had been terrified to do.
So this year, instead of setting goals, I'll be setting intentions. My view of intentions is that they are more focused on the present - on what's happening right now. Intentions draw from and align to our innermost desires and aspirations for who and how we want to be. Looking back now, I think all three goals that I ended up with were actually intentions. There was a broader picture of what I wanted to bring into my life, rather than a specific, tactical, outcome of something to achieve.
I will still incorporate a few traditional goal-setting ideas. For example, I've documented a few things I'll measure throughout the year so I know how my business is performing. They'll serve as guideposts for where I'd like to be at the end of each quarter and will help me stay focused on the measurable aspects of my business.
But I'm letting go of the expectation to set goals. My attention will go to my intentions, my priorities, living my values, following my passions. I know what I want to bring more of into my life, and I'll be open to receiving it when it comes. I'll continue appreciating the experiences I have, the connections I make.
Because life... "life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments" (Rose Kennedy). I don't want to be so busy pursuing tactical goals that I miss the moments that matter. Because at the end of the day, at the end of life, I want to be able to look back at my life with appreciation, not regret.