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Goals - Why they are so important, but so useless

4 minutes
01 December 2018

In my opinion, goals are the epicentre of achievement in life. Without them, nothing has direction, nothing has importance, nothing has meaning. Goals are everywhere, in many different forms. Small to giant, from making a morning coffee to making a million dollars.

So we all know that goals are awesome right? But in all honesty, they are actually pretty damn useless.

Goals are just one step away from a “Dream”, which is just one step away from a “Hope”. And Hopes, Dreams, Goals? They are easy to have, everyone has them, everyone can talk about them.

What you need to do, is turn your goals into Projects.

Let’s say you have a goal that you want to go on holiday. Cool, let’s go. You jump in the car and start driving until you hit somewhere that feels like a nice place for a holiday. Now you might get lucky and end up somewhere stunning like Wanaka, but more likely you’ll end up somewhere like Twizel, not bad, but not Wanaka. So let’s start giving this goal some more thought. Let’s get more specific with the goal, think about it a bit more and realise we actually want to go to Wanaka for a holiday. So this time, as we drive, we are at least heading in the right general direction, and if we see a sign for Wanaka then we might just get there.

Eventually. So let’s try again and put some actual direction into it. Let’s put Wanaka into the GPS as we drive. Now we’re going the most efficient way, with the smoothest route. So much better. But you know what, we arrived at New Years and there is no where to stay! So next time, let’s really plan out our “goal”, let’s turn it into a Project. We think more about our goal and decide that we want it to be a Summer holiday, but don’t want to pay the earth for it. We start planning it out a bit more, decide that the best time for that will be a few weeks after New Years when prices are back down, people have left to go back to work, but the weather is still hot. In fact, if we leave on a Tuesday the roads will be less busy. And we should build into our plan getting the car checked over and serviced the week before and stopping at a petrol station as we leave our city. So now we’ve taken that abstract goal, specified it down to what we really want, and planned it out. Now we’ve got the best chance to really making it happen.

So it was never the goal that was important, it was turning the goal into a project and giving ourselves the best chance of making it happen.

And the coolest thing about goals? You can set yourself any goal you want. You can make it as big as you like! Because once a goal is turned into a project, it’s broken down and doable, step by step. You can do anything in life! But we need to be brutally honest with ourselves before we start. Once you’ve broken it down and seen just how much it will take to reach that goal you need to ask yourself if you are really committed to every single step on that project plan, to reach your goal. And that’s the beauty of a project vs a goal. Anyone can say they want to be an Astronaut. I mean, sure, who doesn’t want to be an Astronaut? And you might even take it as far as signing up to Astronaut school (or whatever it is you do to become an Astronaut). But that’s where failure steps in. That’s why so many people never reach their goal. Not because they aimed too high, but they never stopped to look at what it would really take and then compare that to how badly they wanted that goal. If they’d taken the time to turn that goal into a project and really lay out everything it would take to become an Astronaut, most people might go, hmmmm, actually, I’m not willing to do all that to become an Astronaut. And that’s ok! That’s way better than wasting 3 years and thousands of dollars before realising that you don’t want to be an Astronaut bad enough to put the work in.

Anyone can say they want to go to the Olympics, but few want it bad enough to spend the hours training, the diet sacrifices, the social sacrifices, to actually make it. But on the other hand, you might also look at that long list of everything you have to do, all the years it will take, the money it will cost, the sacrifices you’ll have to make, and go.

Yep. I am willing to do all of that because that’s how bad I want to be an Astronaut, or an Olympian, or whatever you want in life.

So start thinking about what you want in life! Once you've decided on something, take your first step and start to look at is as a project. Begin to map that project out. And then just continue taking each step to work out the best way to make that project happen. Sure things might have to be changed and reassessed along the way, but as long as you keep taking each step you can do whatever you want....As long as you want it bad enough to put in the work that is!

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