The new year is coming and you’ll probably start thinking soon about your goals for 2022. But is goal setting a good idea? I read somewhere it was bad! Is that true? Setting goals can be powerful but it has to be done the right way. Learn how to set yourself up for success for the coming year!
If you are reading this, you must be falling into one of those categories:
* You’ve never set goals for yourself.
* You want to set goals but don’t know where to start.
* You set goals but never achieved them.
* You are a professional goals setter but you need to stay focused on what really matters.
Where ever you are in your journey, you’ll learn your next step in this article.
Why do we even set goals?
What’s the whole point of life? Well, let’s not go too deep. To keep it simple, I think it is ok to say that it is about creating a happy and satisfying experience.
You have your own definition of what that specifically means, and it is probably different from mine. But what is common to all of us is that we have desires, we all start somewhere and want to go somewhere.
The powerful force that drives you to make a reality of what you are dreaming of is called ambition, and the place you want to go is your goal. Those goals might be material things, accomplishments, feelings, experiences, etc.
Setting a goal is a way of saying to yourself “this is what I want, and I am ready to do what it takes to get it”.
Wishes or goals for 2022?
It all starts with a situation where you are discontent or with the desire to go from good to great.
* I wish I had a better job.
* I wish I had more friends.
* I wish I was more healthier.
* I wish I was richer.
You dream about something different and you hope that one day maybe it will be. This is a wish.
A wish is imaginary and doesn’t create results. It can inspire you but will not change your life.
Although wishing things doesn’t lead you to live your best life, I am not saying that it is a bad thing. Contrarily, I encourage you to dream (big!) and use your imagination. But don’t stop there!
Unhappy and unsatisfied people live a life full of wishes and die with regrets. Successful and fulfilled people transformed their wishes into goals and worked their way to accomplish them.
Before setting a goal, start with WHY
The strategy to be on the successful side starts with making a list of all your wishes and identifying which ones are the most important to you. Then reflect on why it really matters to you.
Ask yourself WHY, multiple times. If you don’t know with extreme clarity why you want something and how it will change your life for the better, then it will stay a wish, or worse, you might be pursuing something that you actually don’t really care about.
To use a metaphor, don’t wait to be on the summit to realize that you have been climbing the wrong mountain. “The greatest failure in life is to succeed at the wrong assignment” ~ Dr. Myles Munroe
Are you ready to commit?
When you have deeply connected with your wish, it’s time to think if you are ready to do what is necessary to make it come true.
I find it really exciting to ask myself this question. “Am I ready? YES!”, “Wow, can I actually make that happen?” This is exciting! Just thinking about it opens up new possibilities and makes you see a new reality for yourself.
A goal is not something nice to have or do, but it is a commitment with yourself to manifest in your life what you truly desire.
“He didn’t know it was impossible, so he did it”
It is written all over that you have to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound (SMART). But when you set your life goals, it is very important to not limit yourself based on your current situation.
“Aim for the moon, if you miss, you may hit a star.”- W. Clement Stone. Sounds a bit cliché, I know, but there is some truth in there. If you aim low, you’ll stay low. Michelangelo said it less metaphorically: “The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in 3 months and underestimate what we can accomplish in 3 years. Don’t give up on something you truly want because it seems impossible from where you stand right now.
Let me tell you a story. For decades, top athletes around the world accompanied by the best coaches were trying to run a mile in under 4 minutes. The longer it remained unaccomplished the more it seemed to be impossible for humans.
Beating the odds, in 1954, the British athlete Roger Bannister was the first person to break the four-minute barrier with a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
What is really interesting is that, once people saw that it could be done, they did it too. Not even two months after Bannister’s feat, an Australian runner broke the record with a time of 3 minutes 58 seconds. A year later, three more runners broke the four-minute barrier. Although it has been considered out of reach for decades, nowadays, almost 1500 athletes worldwide have run a mile in under 4 minutes.
If you don’t try, you are 100% sure to fail. So don’t be shy to dream big, who knows what you will be able to achieve?
But how big is too big? As I wrote in my article “why your comfort zone is dangerous”, the trick is to find the right mix between fear and excitement. If it is too scary maybe you are stretching yourself too much. If it is too exciting, maybe you are not pushing yourself enough.
The magic of setting goals
Setting a goal will help you to stay focused and intentional to make it come true. It is the process of transforming your thoughts into actions. It gives you clarity on your direction and helps you coordinate your efforts to get the desired outcome. I will trigger new empowering behaviors and positive habits.
It will also help you go through the obstacles and challenges you will face along the way by keeping you focused on your desire and helping you reconnect with why it matters to you.
The most powerful aspect of setting goals is that it will make you live with more intentionality. “If you live without intentions, you are settling for random” When you live with intentions, you create step by step the life you have imagined. If you don’t know what to do, you will do what has been chosen for you. It’s not too late to start being in control again…
The danger of goals setting
Reaching your goals has to become an obsession and a priority if you want to succeed. You have to tap into your burning desire of manifesting it and dedicate your time and energy to it. This is the power of commitment.
But extremes are dangerous. It has to be a priority, but not override living fully every day. It simply doesn’t make sense to choose to live miserable today in order to live better tomorrow.
Living without intentions will lead to a life of regrets and unfulfillment, but on the other end of the spectrum, being overly focused on your goals will also lead to unhappiness.
You have to commit, but…
In 2014, I met a girl on a tiny island in Indonesia. I timidly told her about my dream to quit everything and go travel the world. It wasn’t a very rational desire to leave everything behind (a good career, family, friends, stuff,…). I mean, if you have a good-paying job and are doing well, don’t mess around, do like everybody else, and live a normal life.
According to what is “socially acceptable”, my idea didn’t seem to be so rational. But still, I had a burning desire to explore the world. She cheered me on and asked when I would do it! I was astonished. It made me think, is it actually possible?
Then she shared her dream: to live in Nepal. Needless to say that we clicked! Long story short; we quit our job, sold our stuff, left to travel the world and I married her a few years later.
One day I was looking at the paragliders in the sky of Pokhara and I got an idea! If I become a tandem pilot, can I receive a temporary working permit to work as a paragliding pilot? Yes! It will be difficult, require a lot of time, money, energy, and patience, but it is not impossible.
So we created a new plan: I would intensively fly to get my license and become a paragliding tandem pilot and my wife would find a job and take care of the finances. And that’s what we did.
The following 2,5 years, we moved to Indonesia. I spent my days in the sky and she worked hard at her job. We were saving as much money as possible, not being very social, and limiting our activities.
A life lesson
We were focused, obsessed with reaching our goal. Maybe a bit too much… I learned my lesson the hard way. In 2018, I found myself at the wrong place, at the wrong time. I starred at death in the face, miraculously surviving an earthquake and a tsunami in Palu, Sulawesi.
Lots of people lost their lives, including some of my friends. I was lucky to not die. That day, I promised myself to live every single day of my life to the fullest, no matter what.
This is what I learned: it is not worth it to live for the future and miss out on the only thing you truly have: the present moment.
We kept working on our dream and eventually arrived in Nepal, so happy and proud. We started building our house in the mountains (by hand!) and created a life there.
But then we learned another life lesson. Covid-19 came and messed up our master plan. We had to leave the country and go back to Europe, confused. What now? So we created a new plan, opened an online business, and kept living our extraordinary life and nomadic lifestyle (read more about the reality of living abroad).
That confirmed our first lesson: it is not worth it to miss out on living fully in the moment for the sake of a future goal. I could have died in the double natural disaster. And our dream to live in Nepal got cut short after only 6 months because of something independent of our control.
We worked so hard to get there, put our life on pause, for in the end ending up somewhere else doing something totally different.
My take away
It is absolutely important to set goals and create the life you’ve imagined. But it is even more important to live every single day of your life to the fullest.
Being too extreme with reaching your goals can lead to unethical behavior, and over-focusing on just a few aspects of your life. You don’t want to end up rich and with poor health, successful and lonely, or super fit and broke. You get the idea.
If you live for your goals you might also feel empty after reaching them or devastated if you never achieve them.
The purpose of setting goals is to commit to getting better at life, to keep learning and developing yourself, holistically. I’m sure you heard that before, in the end, it is not really about the goal itself, it is about enjoying the journey.
Why do most people fail to achieve their goals?
There is an old riddle that says:
Five frogs are on a log.
Four decided to jump off.
How many frogs are left?
I’m pretty sure that the first answer that came to your mind was… One. Think again! The answer is five. There is a big difference between a decision and an action.
Research shows that around 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail! Here are the main reasons:
Reason 1: Not having a strong WHY
The first trick to make sure to achieve your goals is to set goals that are worth fighting for. In your opinion! You need to have a burning desire to achieve and truly connect to why it is important to you.
Reason 2: Lack of a plan
We set goals for our future self, but it is our present self that has to do the work. Read that again sentence again.
In other words, a goal is not something to go to, it is something to come from. The future doesn’t exist, all we have is the present. So when you think about the “future you” being healthy, it is the “present you” that has to change his eating habits.
If you want to be healthier, ask yourself: What does a healthy person do, eat, drink, say, think, …,? If you want to be more courageous, think about what would your most courageous self say or do in a specific situation.
Get clear on what to do and what not to do. Dial-in new simple habits that will create over time huge momentum and a change of identity. (More strategies in this article).
Whatever goals you decide to set for yourself, it is worthless without having an action plan. Furthermore, your action plan is useless without taking action. Think about those little frogs…
Reason 3: Lack of support
A team will always beat an individual. Although you have to do the work, getting support is essential if you want to succeed in the long-term game. “You have to do it by yourself, and you can’t do it alone.” – Martin Rutte
Surround yourself with people who cheer you up, celebrate the highs with you and give you a hand in the lows. Find people who inspire you and lift you up. You know the path to personal success will be full of challenges. “don’t get ready, stay ready.” – Connor McGregor
Find a mentor, a buddy, an accountability partner, or a coach to help support you in your journey.
What goals should I set for 2022?
If you are not so sure, here is a good way to start: imagine that you are in December 2022 and you are reflecting on the year that has passed, how would you like to answer the following questions:
* If I have to describe 2022 in one word it would be…
* The favourite place I visited this year was…
* An achievement I am proud of is…
* My biggest success was…
* The best decision I made was…
* A new empowering habit that I am glad I started is…
* Something I am proud I learned is…
Then reverse engineer. What do you have to do, and how do you have to show up to make this happen?
I like to say to people, if you don’t know your purpose in life, make of your purpose to get better at life. Work on your health and fitness, develop more meaningful relationships, learn something new, help someone, be more courageous, be a better friend, parent, partner, focus on what matters most,…
I believe the most important is to commit to keep learning and developing yourself and make sure to live with intention.
Leader’s goals for 2022
Here are 5 goals that are worth working on, especially if you are a leader.
1. Done is better than perfect
Waiting for perfection is living in a state of not being ready yet, a state of “not enough”. Instead of looking for perfection, commit to excellence. Show up as your best and enjoy the process and not only the outcome of your journey. An action is more powerful than a word. A word is more powerful than a thought. If it doesn’t work out, keep working on it and make it work, you know that a failure happens only when you stop trying.
2. Speak less and listen more
Most problems are born in miscommunication. It is becoming rare to have someone truly listening. This little practice only will change your life.
Practice deep listening with your kids, your partner, your employees,… Listen to understand how they see the world and acknowledge their truth. Don’t try to find the best smart answer, simply listen and be curious. You will see the quality of your relationships tremendously increase. It might require putting your ego aside for a while, but you will be amazed by how memorable it will make you.
3. Be more strategic
Have you ever found yourself cleaning your desk, decluttering your computer desktop, or rewriting your to do list over and over again? Great things to do but not instead of doing what you should really be doing!
This is a sneaky form of procrastination. When you distract yourself with something useful but not important to avoid doing something urgent that you don’t really enjoy doing.
It’s easy to get lost into details, be busy doing the insignificant easy tasks or spending your time doing things you are good at instead of focusing on what is in your zone of genius.
It happens, and that’s ok, you just have to find a way to re-focus. One of my client had a great idea, he decided to schedule in his calendar strategic thinking time. To make it more playful, he is writing in his schedule “important meeting” which is basically, a meeting with himself. He also put a couch in his office that he renamed “thinking couch”. Sometimes just sitting on a different place in a different position is opening your mind to different possibilities. I found that brilliant. And it works.
So what about slowing down, taking the time to stay focus on what matters most and commit to say no more often?
4. Embrace Change
Our world is changing fast. Technology and innovation are growing exponentially and their adoption time is reducing considerably. Embracing change without getting caught in hypes will be key. The world moves and you better move with it or you will be left behind.
Get away from this mental model : “I’ve always been doing this way so I don’t want to change”. No need to change what works already! But what about observing if it really works as efficiently as it should and stay open minded about new possibilities?
Embracing change is about staying informed about what’s coming and not reject everything that is not familiar. Believe me, your comfort zone is dangerous.
5. Stop working yourself to death
Which goal are you pursuing that takes over the joy of living every single day? What are you making compromise on? Your health, your family, your friends, self-care?
Being a high performer is to achieve success beyond average while maintaining your health, wellbeing and relationships. In short, a successful person achieved success in all different area of his life.
I love to ask this question to mu client: What is the most important to you? But I love even more to ask this next question: Is your behaviour and the way you spend your time and energy demonstrating what is the most important to you?
You see, at the first question most people will answer “my family”, but at the second question, they will be blank. Realising that actually that the way they have been spending their time and energy does not reflect it what is most important to them.
I like to see priorities not on top of each other on vertical plan but on an horizontal plan. Your job is important, your family, your health, etc. There is not really one more important than the other because they all go together. But they all deserve your attention, time, energy and commitment.
Remember that we tend to regret more the things we didn’t do than the things that we’ve done.
Goals setting for 2022: what to remember?
If you want to make 2022 your best year, don’t let yourself be biased by where you are at today to imagine your future. Dream big and turn your most important wishes into goals. Find WHY you want to achieve that goal, create a plan, make the decision and take action.
A goal is a commitment with yourself to manifest in your life what you truly desire. Remember that, it is important to set goals but it is even more important to live every single day of your life to the fullest. So enjoy the journey!
Lastly, if you want to set yourself up for success, seek for support and accountability.