Around the beginning of the year, an eruption of articles on goal-setting and resolutions can be found on blogs, in magazines, and elsewhere. We take a stab at a fresh start when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year begins. The upside is that these goals and resolutions give us new hope that we can make constructive changes in our lives. The downside is that most of us fail to follow-through in meaningful ways that create lasting transformation.
As I reflected on this conundrum, I realized goals are about more than getting there. Here are four benefits of setting goals, whether we get there or not.
Purpose: Goals give us purpose as they reflect our values, dreams, and desires. We know what we’re trying to do and why. They inform our choices and our tasks by giving us an end-point to move toward. Like athletes trying to make it to the playoffs, each goal is part of a bigger picture infused with purpose. The movement has meaning because there is a goal at the end of it.
Direction: Standing on a soccer field, I recalled my early years as a soccer player. We switched sides at half-time. Knowing which goal was ours and which goal was the opponent’s defined the direction we moved the ball. It dictated the placement of our players and told us which way to move down the field. In the same way, a clear goal keeps us moving in the right direction.
Strategy: If you watch any sports team during the time-outs, you will see them gathered around planning a strategy for moving the ball (or puck for my hockey fans) toward the goal. They have plays figured out for maneuvering around the obstacles, most often the other team’s players, and getting the ball closer to the goal until it’s within reach. When we have a goal in mind, we can consider the obstacles and create a plan for overcoming them.
Stretch: In the world of sports there is nothing more inspiring than watching a player stretch toward the goal. Football players stretch to catch the flying ball in the endzone, basketball players reach to the sky to slam the ball in the net, soccer players have a powerful kick and goalies stretch sideways as the ball passes the goalposts. When we are reaching for a goal, we have to stretch. Sometimes we make the shot and sometimes we miss, but we are always better for trying.
Sometimes we reach our goals, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we encounter unexpected challenges that delay the achievement. No matter what happens, goals keep us moving forward with a clear sense of where we’re going.
We want to hear from you! Share your ideas for setting goals. How do goals help you stay on track and move forward?