I have posted before about the importance of goals. We will all end up some where. The question is where will we end up? How do we decide where we want to go. The vast majority of people never will. They will simply wake up and start the day not really considering where the day will take them. But what about the people that have measured the outcome and have set goals and charted their course.
And they have failed.
I was talking to a friend the other day who was facing this very question. He was trying to determine what he wanted out of his life. This is not the same as deciding what you want to do with your life. He said to me, "I think I want to do this ______ but I don't always know how to follow through with it."
I asked him why he had set the goal. I responded to his next question with another question of why. See his goals were measurable, he knew how he would define success. He knew why he wanted to accomplish the goal in broad terms.
The problem was that there were other things that he wanted that worked against his goals. You might know these as first order and second order change or desires. Then I asked him the question that I think matters most. I asked, what exactly is the payoff for you regarding this goal? Why will your life be better if you achieve this goal? I think this is the key component that most people miss when they set goals. What will make the sacrifice of change worth it?
The truth is that most of us don't ever really experience real change in our life. I would suggest that it's because we fail to tap into the power of our emotions. We fail to realize that most of our decisions are emotional.
Our bad habits have an emotional pay off and our new choices that will lead to change can often look like they will emotionally punish us. This is not always true. Certainly there are times when we make decisions based on cold logic. I'd submit to you that our logic often lead us to consider our emotional pay off.
Let's say that someone sets a goal of not eating fast food for the next six months. The measurability of the goal is fairly obvious. Either he will eat or not eat in a fast food restaurant over the next six months. But what is the emotional pay off to not eating fast food over the next six months? How will her life be better by not eating in those restaurants over the next six months? We need to understand what motivates us. We need to understand what we really want out of what we are trying to do. By doing this, we can increase the likelihood that we will actually accomplish our goals.