The Benefits of Flexible Goal Setting

11918123541664223footsteps.gifIn mid-January, I had an incredible business idea.  I was so inspired that I just began writing. 

Within hours I had a pseudo business plan and surmised the next steps would be to hire a web design firm and flush out proper language for the necessary website.

Then I snapped back to reality. Doubts and questions flooded my mind: What about all the things I was currently working on?  How could I possible juggle something new (and so seemingly time consuming)?  What about all of the present goals I set for myself, should I just put them aside?

And what about my life

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outside of career; would I leave any time for family and friends?

Choosing Between Achieving Goals And The Creative Flow…

In my article How To Set Fantastic, Achievable Goals for 2008 I explained how my system of creating long-term objectives and then working backwards to establish a neat and tidy productivity system can be very effective.

As I contemplated how I would explain myself to loyal We The Changers—that I did not hit ANY of my tangible goals for January—I realized that my stringent system from the previous article does not tell the entire story. 

Expect The Unexpected

fierce-lion.jpgAs you set out to achieve pre-written goals, make sure to reserve space for the “creative you” to craft genuine ideas.  This is the main point I missed in my first article, as no productivity system would be worthwhile without the manifestation of fresh concepts.

And when these ”gems” surface, allow yourself to partake in the process as it transpires; do not put it off or be fearful of the other things you should be doing.  It always works itself out when you follow your heart.

In my scenario, there were at least 2 semi-big projects that I realized did not need immediate attention.  (It’s an amazing experience when you first begin to understand the axiom:  almost nothing in life requires immediate attention).

Quickly, I re-arranged my internal and external calendars and made space for the new concept to take form.  My moments of stress and questions had subsided, I understood that I could easily work on this project, make it great, and not lose my life!

Remember—truly magical and transcending ideas are never planned.  You have to make way for them!

Long-Term Objectives ALWAYS Trump Short Term Goals

It is easy to forget that the primary reason for setting goals and implementing productivity systems is to help you live a wonderful, fulfilling and meaningful life.

When this new project surfaced in my mind, I quickly grasped its potential significance.  Successfully completing it could get me one step closer to my loftier dreams!

Could I really put off the new inspiration for the sake of sticking to a pre-defined schedule of monthly, weekly and daily goals?  No way.  When something happens that strikes a chord within, you have to go for it. 

Always have your long-term goals in mind, they keep you on track to the things that are really important.  And become very aware if you consistently allow short-term objectives to trump your life’s ambitions!

Set Your Goals And Then FORGET About Them!beautiful-flower.jpg

After I set goals I rarely spend any time reviewing them.  I never ask myself “did I accomplish x, y and z”.  Why?  Because I find this activity to be a pointless waste of time! 

What would really be the point for me to review my January goals?  I have just stated that unknowing events brought me new ideas that limited my ability to complete them.  I know that, and there is no point in “reviewing” them.

What IS needed is a continual system of re-assessment.  Be proactive, and always look forward.  On February 1, I started creating my goals for the month ahead and there was a whole new category there (one that was previously unknown).  How exciting!  That’s how you grow.  Don’t review; create!

Should You Set Goals: Yes!

Many readers will ask:  “what is the point of setting goals if the ‘unknown’ trumps it all anyway”.  Great question!  To me, the reason you should set goals is simple:  to create a clear vision of your ideal life.

And I HIGHLY recommend making your goals lofty…even larger then you think you should.  Making them big makes your life electric, and gives you

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something exciting to strive towards.  

Be wary of the relentless pursuit of achieving your goals.  This mindset can be detrimental and may blind you to bigger and better opportunities that present themselves. 

Setting goals should be a flexible, fun, and organic as opposed to dutiful and monotone.  Let the universe work for you…allow the unknown to present itself to you and cultivate awareness to take action when it does!

I hope this article helps.  The points I am bringing up are relevant to me at the moment, and I look forward to your comments and input!

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13 Responses to “The Benefits of Flexible Goal Setting”

  1. Nice one, Todd!

    You bring up the very true point that sometimes our goals can get in the way of bigger picture. Yes, we should set goals, but if something comes along that takes us in the direction of what we want, then we sometimes need to reevaluate whether or not our original goal-setting paradigm is still applicable.

    Thanks for sharing this, Todd!

  2. Great post…now I don’t feel so bad about my goals for 2007. Using this perspective, I was right on track.

  3. Todd says:

    Adam and Aaron– thanks so much for the nice comments, and glad the article helped out (and made you feel better),

  4. Jean says:

    I make plans but I don’t think of them as goals. If I change my mind or something interferes, no problem. I just make another plan. It’s fun. Goals are supposed to set time limits. Sometimes that’s necessary (like income tax), but if it’s not forget it. I’m first and foremost a creative person. I do have somethings I do regularly, like exercise every day, go to the gym every other day, make a short video for the local public access TV station every week, etc., but I don’t think about them much. I just do them. It’s a good balance between getting things done regularly and having plenty of creative time.

    Anyway, thanks for keep us informed about how things are turning out. That’s what I like about your blog, you check out your ideas and share the results with us. That’s a lot more interesting to me than lists of how to improve your life. Been there. Done that. I’m much more interested in sharing our unique adventures in life.

    I have stumbled this post. :)

  5. I don’t think that it is wise to stifle the creative process for the sake of predetermined goals. Inspiration is an internal gift that creates a passion that transcends every aspect of your entire life. It is almost too difficult to explain.

    Your article “hit the nail on the head”. Set lofty goals, but remain flexible and pay attention to your inner, creative self.

  6. Dean says:

    Hi Todd,

    Nice post. I too find myself with major objectives and planned out goals to accomplish the objective and something happens to take me in a different direction. For instance, just before I started to read blogs tonight, there was a message from someone that will be taking me in a different direction than I had planned on going. Now I’m restructuring my goals for February to work this in.

    One never knows when or how the Universe will provide for us.

    It’s like an E ticket ride at Disneyland. (I’m dating myself with this quote.)

  7. Hi, Todd,
    Thanks for coming by and commenting on Is Football Really Like Life?. My response was:

    I’m not a football fan, but I was blown away by the Super Bowl. I always turn it on and essentially stop watching it once it becomes too one-sided. Instead I got hooked and was rooting for the Giants, too. But I think it takes more than belief. It takes talent and a lot of coercion from the coach. Would you be willing to give up your creativity and put yourself under the control of someone else? Judging from your post, The Benefits of Flexible Goal Setting, your answer would be no. In your post you say you motivate yourself by setting lofty, exciting goals. “Be wary of the relentless pursuit of achieving your goals. This mindset can be detrimental and may blind you to bigger and better opportunities that present themselves.” It seems to me that’s just the opposite of the football approach, where you drill, drill, drill and keep pushing yourself within a more narrow mindset. So I don’t see how football is like your life.

    :) Thanks for coming by!

  8. Excessively switching goals can scatter the attention. Yet, we all need to be open to new information and ideas that come our way. I believe the way to balance these two seemingly conflicting perspectives, is to take great care in developing the goal. I believe a good goal should take several days to develop. It should take quiet intuitive reflection. Allow a little time to pass so that you can re-examine your goal with fresh insight. If the goal stands the test of time (a day or two), then it could be a worthy goal.


  9. Todd says:

    Aaron, Jean, Dean and Chris– thank you so much for all the thoughtful comments…means a lot! I am glad the article sparked some interest in you…!

  10. [...] like Todd, have suggested that some flexibility is required in goal setting. Sure, set your goals, and then [...]

  11. I just visited your blog for the first time and I was drawn to this title. Here’s why. “Setting goals should be a flexible, fun, and organic as opposed to dutiful and monotone. Let the universe work for you…allow the unknown to present itself to you and cultivate awareness to take action when it does!”

    The obligation like goals never seemed to work for me. I’m an in the moment adapter who loves the creative energy of adjusting on the fly. I had to give myself permission to be the kind of goal-setter I really was.

    Thanks for the validation and excellent inspiration. I shall return

  12. Todd says:

    Tom, I am glad you enjoyed the article and found your way to my blog. I will certainly check out delightful work as well. Come back soon!

  13. Great post!

    Many people shy away from goals because they don’t like the rigidity of having a concrete deadline. We want room to be flexible when we want to be, and to be bottled up with hard goals can be an unpleasant feeling.

    If more people allowed a little flexibility without giving themselves an easy way out there’d be a lot more success going around.

    Alex Work

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