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  • Writer's picturedereklovett

Fall Short of Your Objectives, Not Your Goals

March 19, 2024

Consider an athlete that you have watched doing an interview after a championship win. No matter the sport, when asked about his or her perspective on what contributed to their success you have likely heard him or her respond something to the effect of, "I knew I had put in the work; I just trusted the process." While this is the most predictable and unglamorous of answers, there is probably not another that encapsulates the truth any better. Athletes that perform at the highest level day-in and day-out have grasped a concept that many of us have not: they understand the urgency of focusing on "the work" more than the outcome.  And in a lot of ways, their careers depend on their capacity to do so.

When a professional athlete falls short of winning a championship that doesn't mean that his or her objective has changed. He or she still desires to win a championship. However, it is indicative that they need to go back to the drawing board and evaluate where they may need improvement. (Of course, there are some external factors --such as the team they play on-- that they do not have much control over.)  When they ask themselves if they did everything possible for their success, they are ultimately evaluating two things: (1) how well they met their goals and (2) how those goals may need to be modified for improvement.  So, how does this translate to your life? While the outcome for professional athletes might be the score at the end of a game, for you this might represent a job promotion or a long standing personal aspiration. The question is, are you focusing on the objective alone or on the goals that support the objective? Differentiating between the two is critical to your capacity to make the progress you desire in life.  

Proper goal-setting actually allows you to evolve in your capacity to regulate results in your life.  Let's dig a little deeper into our test analogy. This time let's say that you have set a goal of studying for 20 hours in hopes that you make a certain score.  Your desired score would then be your objective but the 20-hour study benchmark would be your goal.  You may be asking, why wouldn't the goal be my desired score?  Simply put, this is because your capacity to make a specific score is not yet measurable.  As of this point, there is no precedent by which an outcome can be reasonably predicted.  And if there is no metric to measure progress then you only have an objective and not a goal. Now let’s say that you took that same test 3 times and improved by an average of 2 points each time.  In that case, you could then reasonably project that you would improve by 2 points the next time you took the test.  And based on this correlation, you could set a goal for making a specific score. For instance, if you made an 18 the last time you could set a goal to have a 24 by taking it three more times.  In essence, you would have derived your own “formula” of predictability.  That is the essence of goal-setting!  

Don’t get stagnated in your quest for progress.  Make sure you carefully regulate your progress by focusing on objective-driven goals. Subscribe for more.  And be sure you sign up to get notified for my new app launching April 1st which will help support individuals in the areas of time management, productivity, goal-setting, wellness, and mental health.

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