Character Creates Opportunity® – Goals: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, an important topic to address is setting goals and making plans to accomplish our goals. 

For most businesses that desire to exist beyond a few months or a few years, an essential element is setting direction and answering the big questions like “where are we going?” and “how are we going to get there?”  Most businesses conduct detailed work on an annual basis to make funding decisions on plans and many conduct routine, long-range planning sessions to account for investing in the organization’s three to five year plans.

In reflecting back on the personal and professional choices I made over the years, I see a clear pattern where I have spent an incredible amount of time working to develop the plans for businesses and managing the progress towards those goals.  However, I have spent very little time in comparison on setting detailed personal and family goals and specific, measurable steps to achieve them.  I have not been completely negligent in setting goals, however, I have been inconsistent in developing the process for setting goals and the detailed plans to achieve them compared to my professional, “on the job” goal setting process.  After discussions with a number of people, I can see that I am not alone in this reality.

Faced with the sobering reminder that no accomplishment in the workplace could ever compensate for a failure at home, it is important that we develop the rigor around setting personal and family goals and the plans to achieve them.  This planning process is a key aspect of building and strengthening our character.  It will ensure we are putting forth intentional effort to reach our full potential in the only permanent area of our lives, our family.

Personal planning and goal setting is not rocket science.  It is a basic blocking and tackling exercise… allocate some time, think things through, make some decisions, and put things on paper.  There are numerous helpful tools available for free on the internet or in your local library.  There is no shortage of tools to develop a plan.  Many of us just simply fall short with the discipline to do it and work the plan. 

I prefer to address personal plans into some large buckets:

  • Near Term Goals (the upcoming calendar year -12 months)
    • Address the four basic needs of us as humans: (1) Spiritual (2) Physical (3) Mental (4) Social (relationships).  Just a few per category that are realistic and “raise the bar” from the prior year.
    • Time: From prior blogs, this section deals with expanding time spent on “important, but not urgent” activities…mostly addressing the four needs above.
    • Financial…always a fun one
    • Career/Profession
  • Long Term Goals (the big, bold hopes and dreams) that need steady progress in the near term

There are two learnings that I have come away with over the years in making personal plans:  (1) Be as specific as possible so you can really “see” what you are striving to achieve and (2) Less is more.  Focus on the important stuff and avoid making an endless list of goals that will result in more frustration than motivation.  

As always, a good planning session should begin with some reflection and decision on answering the big questions around a personal vision or purpose that you are working towards.  It is helpful to ensure alignment of next year’s goals with the overall “true north” direction in our lives.

In conclusion, I would just reinforce that life continues to grow in complexity and intensity.  If we just rely on “winging it” in the critical areas of our own personal growth and important relationships, we will most definitely fall short of our full potential. 

Being intentional with our personal life-plan is an important aspect of building and strengthening character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to make a positive impact.

What have you learned in building a personal life-plan?  Please share a comment below.