Successful people are usually always goal setters and achievers. I challenge you to find a successful person who has not mastered the art of personal accomplishment. But is goal
setting really the key to their success? As a young professional or aspiring entrepreneur, you probably have a list of SMART goals located in an easily accessible place to remind you of your roadmap to success. However, what if I told you that sometimes goal setting, and your goals in and of themselves, may be two of the biggest overrated strategies to achieve success. Although important, they are secondary to something that is more critical to your advancement.
According to Fred Smith Sr, former president of the US management consulting firm – Fred Smith Associates and a world-renowned leadership guru, “choosing a goal in life is not our most important decision choosing our direction is.” Goal setting and achieving are important and fulfilling. They result in endless rewards and an increased drive to keep moving. But why is it that so many successful goal achievers aren’t happy and fulfilled? A great job, benefits, a lovely family yet something seems lacking.
Our education system teaches us how to identify and solve problems. We are taught how to find the most effective solutions to these problems, but does this teach us how to determine which problems are worth solving? Each goal we set is a problem waiting to be solved. As bright students, we seek to solve problems or achieve goals set by ourselves, social network or society. We bask in the feelings of accomplishment as we solve each problem. However, soon after, we realize that these feelings of satisfaction are short lived, and we are left with the need to conquer a new challenge.
Although we may can identify and solve problems, how many of us are able to find and take advantage of opportunities? Opportunities give direction and purpose; goals and problem solving don’t! After the achievement of an elusive goal we often realize that it was the attaining, not the attainment that brought a feeling of fulfillment.
How many of us pursue higher education or a bank loan with no real idea of what returns it is likely to yield in our lives? We endure years in unhappy employment situations en route to the cherished promotion. One Master’s Degree and one promotion later we’re still unhappy and looking for a new problem to solve.
Your success as a professional and entrepreneur starts first in the choosing of the right direction. By doing so, you are able to appropriately ignore problems/goals that aren’t worth wasting your time on. Imagine you are a cartographer asked to map out a specific territory. You spend months exploring the real terrain, gathering all the relevant technical information and as you put the finishing touches on your assignment, you realize you have made a grave error – you spent months mapping out the wrong territory. Truth is, the work you’ve done is great and will be useful to someone, but it was not the territory you had intended to cover.
While initially charting the territory, and setting and achieving your goals may have given you a sense of fulfillment, ultimately it turned out to be short lived. You climbed the ladder only to realize you rested it against the wrong wall.
It is important to pick the right direction so that your goals can achieve the true purpose intended. When on the right path, one realizes that the joy is in the journey. Your career or your business will cease to be a mere goal or series of goals to achieve, but rather a life process of fulfillment and new challenges.
Here are a few tips to help you assess whether you are going in the right direction:
Often, we choose directions for our lives because of the influence of our social network, be it family or friends. Some of us have no direction, just an extensive list of ambitions, all because someone or the society said this is the path we should follow. Ultimately, the responsibility is ours to place our ladders against the right wall.
Always remember that determining your direction is a personal choice. Continuously comparing yourself to others can impair your judgement, thereby causing you to go in a direction that does not suit you.
Furthermore, remember that: