November 2nd, 2017

In the process of doing a bit of blogcleaning, I came across this post from 15 March 2005. Gawd only knows what I was thinking at the time, but I decided to dive in anyway because the post was associated with—it appeared at the very bottom of my list for—Oliver Burkeman. Go figure. In addition, I’ve decided to share with my students who, as Steve Pavlina, in The Power of Clarity, writes:

[G]o through years of schooling and never receive any instruction on goal setting at all.

So, if you’ve begun to think about your New Year’s resolutions consider this:

Clear goals and objectives are essential to the success of any enterprise, 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.

Goal setting is daunting, however:

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.

Not doing something is not the same as doing nothing. The former requires a decision to act in the negative, the latter is a matter of not deciding and that can be fatal.

The most valuable advice Pavlina repeats from many, many others is to be specific as hell:

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.

For example: If I want to set a goal to finish my current novel by 1 June, I might say, I will finish a clean draft of Absent Son by 1 June. That goal meets Pavlina’s criteria. I might further set smaller, intermediate goals based on say, word count such as, I will complete a clean draft of the first 20,000 words of Absent Son by 1 February, &c.

What goals do you have?

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