I’m doing something for the first time ever — an annual plan. I first got the idea from Chris Guillebeau at the Art of Non Conformity. It seems like a no-brainer. I mean, I’m an adult, I’m in charge of my life, and it’s up to me to make happen! Plus, for the most part, I’m self-employed.
However, my past experience with goals and planning has given me a strong message that goal setting is something to be avoided at all costs. After so many times of setting goals and not reaching them, goals = failure became part of my hard wiring. It’s taking some new thinking and some hard work on my part to overcome this defeatist mindset. So, here’s what I’m doing to conquer these fears.
1. Have multiple possible successful outcomes. If I set a goal to read thirty books this year and only read twenty-five, does that mean that I failed? At one point in my life, I would have said “yes.” It seems like a more mature response would be that twenty-five is many more than I may have read without the goal.
2. Set goals that will require discipline and consistent activity, but not “miracles.” I know that there are people who will tell you to “aim high” but as a realist, it doesn’t seem wise to me to set goals to work toward all year that are unachievable.
3. Plan to do small actions consistently to build momentum. So many activities are all about “momentum.” Work on keeping up momentum rather than trying to block out time to complete each project.
4. Remember that a general trend is to vastly overestimate what can be done in a day or a week and to vastly underestimate what can be done in a year or a decade. In other words, the plan or the goal is not the ultimate end. It’s a tool to unleash creativity and productivity over a longer period of time.