My 8 year old waffle chef What if you're the barrier? A new approach to achieving your goals.
- Are you aiming too low?
- The paradox of goal-setting
- A formula for setting bigger, better goals.
Are You Aiming Too Low?
What are your most important goals right now? Do you have them written down? If you do, take a moment to pull them out - I've got some words to have with them. If you're not up for putting your personal goals on the line, pull out your latest strategic plan instead.
I need to ask you this question: Do your goals excite, inspire and scare the living sh*t out of you?
If not... you might be setting yourself up for failure. If you've listened to advice on setting achievable, realistic goals, this newsletter is for you.
The Paradox of Goal Setting
There's an interesting paradox in goal-setting I've been reading a lot about lately. In short: bigger, scarier, goals can be easier to achieve than smaller, more realistic ones.
Here's a few reasons why:
- Bigger goals eliminate potential pathways to their achievement. This focus drives more progress.
- There is more competition for incremental improvement than for transformation. Big goals eliminate competition.
- Big goals require more learning, pushing you to the edge of your potential and driving meaningful change. You get better, faster.
- Big goals require risky trade-offs that increase your commitment and create more motivation to succeed.
This theory is summed up nicely in this recent tweet by Tim Ferriss:
A Formula for Setting Bigger, Better Goals
To nail this approach, you need to be SMARTer in your goal setting. But not the classic SMART you might see bandied around (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). Oh no. A much more powerful, much more fun iteration that I like to call: Crazy SMART.
Specific. Meaningful. Aspirational. Risky. Transformational
The OG SMART goals had this nailed. This doesn't work if you're vague. If your big goal is to "thrive" (personal), "excel in your field" (professional) or "be a market leader" (organisational) then you're going to flap around in ambiguity.
It's better than nothing. You can use these goals as a lens to make decisions through - i.e. 'will this help me thrive?' 'is this what a market leader would do' - but the answer will usually be... sure, yeah, maybe.
But you can do better than that.
- "Thrive" --> "Be so fit I can run the November 2024 Queenstown marathon in less than 3 hours" or "Make 10 new best friends and take them all on a trip to Fiji next winter"
- "Excel in my field" --> "Be awarded CPA of the year at the 2024 annual event"
- "Be a market leader" --> "Grow to $50 million in annual revenue by EOFY25"
If your goal was specific enough, it would be measurable. We don't need that kind of double-up around here. What we need is meaning.
You have to care about this thing. It has to be so aligned to your values and vision, that you're willing to put things on the line for it. When people hear it, they should go "of course, that makes sense for you" because it is a perfect reflection of your core purpose and values. If it doesn't hit you in the heart, find a new goal.
Achievable goals are a fools game, remember? There's too many potential options, and the competition is too crowded. That's why we have to blow the gates wide open. Your goal should be so aspirational that it makes you feel a little bit sick. When you write it down and look at it, you should think "how the f**k? Am I mad?" Perfect.
Relevant? What does that even mean? If you're not lining up your goals to what you want, you need more than an acronym to help you. Nope, Crazy SMART needs risk.
If you don't have any skin in the game, you're not going to pull this off. Your goal is Crazy SMART if you'll have to say no to a lot of perfectly good things, in order to pull this off. If you'll have to stop doing literally 80% of what you're doing now to make it happen. People might not get it. You might fail miserably. The options are narrow, and the risk is high - but the payoff is astonishing.
Time-bound... should be covered in specificity. Do you think they just liked the acronym and decided to repeat themselves? Boring.
Your goal should be transformational - that is: if you achieve it, you will be completely different by the end of it. But here's the kicker: in order to achieve this goal, you'll have to start behaving as though you're already that person, right now.
And that's where the magic really happens. Running a 3 hour marathon is a one day event. Living the life of an elite marathon runner, making the sacrifices of an elite marathon runner and making the decisions an elite marathon runner makes (getting a coach, designing a nutrition plan, investing in gear, regular physio) is what will change you.
Being awarded CPA of the year is a good night on the turps. Going above and beyond to serve your clients, building an incredible team, designing innovative solutions, showing up as a leader in events, development and advocacy... those are the choices that will change you.
Hitting $50 mill in revenue will feel great when the numbers click over. But slashing your least effective product lines, creating an irresistible customer experience, building a world-class team, pushing the boundaries on marketing, securing new funding streams, and accessing expert advice - those things will change your business forever.
This is the most important thing about all of this. It's not the goal that matters. It's who you become in the process. You can be a slightly better person, professional, or organisation than you are now - or you can be permanently transformed beyond recognition.
Up to you.
Til next week,
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