Progress in life and work involves setting goals, laying a plan you will follow towards those goals and taking the first step, the next, et cetera. Right? Is it really that simple? Perhaps. But, what if you are hamstrung by life’s circumstances, age, competing pursuits or demands. How do you even know if you are ready to pursue that brass ring? When other people suggest to you, “hey, you should apply for that promotion”, and you hear yourself saying, “I’m not ready”, what are you really saying? Could it be that this is a goal that you simply didn’t consider? Are you prepared enough? When will you be ready for that move? In short, what’s the hold-up? And more clearly, what exactly are your goals in life, in work? No small task to get to the bottom of that one, but well worth it. You are worthy of the effort.
I have often been baffled by people who cannot articulate their goals. I always knew what I wanted to be and everything was part of that larger plan, in pursuit of that goal. I was a driven child, teen, young woman, a self-described “real trooper” and clearly action-oriented. (Sitting still continues to be a challenge!) So, I didn’t get it when others couldn’t say what they wanted to be when they grew up, graduated, moved away; I also lacked sympathy for those who didn’t just get on with things and move towards some goals…ANY goals. Until it happened to me. My goal to become a professional actor was attained and there was, suddenly and unexpectedly, something missing. My goal was a flop and I had no idea why. It was heartrending and confusing; moreover, I had no idea what to DO next. And that is the rub: I was confusing action for progress. I lacked my own sense of clarity around my goals simply because I had been pursuing the very same thing for so long such that it never occurred to me to get clear on what it was about that dream – acting – that stirred me to pursue it. It was a goal disconnected from who I was and what I valued.
In order to set a goal, one that you can commit to, hold yourself capable of attaining and accountable for pursuing, regardless of the hurdles, you need to became clear about why it is important to you – the value it will deliver to you. If you are unclear on the value a goal has for you, it’s impossible to set the right goals, to pursue the right goals or to stay the course when hurdles emerge. Goal setting, for the sake of goal setting, is an activity, a series of actions masquerading as progress or fulfillment. Goal setting first requires clarity in order to anchor those goals, to ensure they are true and to test them out before you hit any rough water.