In this episode, let me share the importance of setting goals. Whether short-term or long-term, goal setting is the way to go for a fulfilling life. Goals help you focus only on the direction you want to go; it allows you to measure your progress and enables you to overcome procrastination. At the end of the day, achieving your goals are a reward in and of itself.
Full transcript below
[1:33] Goals in concrete, plans in sand
[6:05] #1 type of goal setters: The no goal
[7:54] #2: Short term goals
[9:50] #3: Long term goals
[14:07] Today’s takeaway
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Mike Malatesta 00:05
Hey, everybody, welcome back to the How’d It Happen podcast. This is Mike, and I’m here again with one of my solo episodes, just me talking to just you. And I want to talk today about goals.
I was on a podcast earlier today ,a great podcast called the Club Capital Podcast hosted by Bradley Hamner. I had not heard of this podcast, and I had not heard of Bradley, but by the time I got done an hour on that show, I thought, Wow, this guy’s really got something going on here. So find it, take a look at it — Club Capital Podcast, Bradley Hamner. But as I was on that podcast with Bradley, we were talking about a whole bunch of things. We spent a good amount of time talking about goals. And he asked me some questions about goals that I hadn’t been asked in a really long time. So I’m going to talk to you about kind of what we talked about, and my thoughts since getting off the podcast.
I want to start with this with this saying: goals in concrete, plans in sand. Goals in concrete, plans in sand. I remember hearing that for the first time, or seeing it actually, for the first time in email that my friend, Chuck Zamora, who is just a real leadership guru, sent me; it went out to his list, so he wasn’t sending it specifically to me, but when I got it, it was sort of this wave crashing on a beach. And these words, you know, “goals in concrete, plans in sand” and, and it was a long time ago when I got that. And I haven’t forgotten it, since, in fact, I write about it in my book, Owner Shift, as well. There’s a chapter where I mention it. And so goals in concrete plans in sand, you think about that?
Okay, you could take it very literally. And you could say, well, if a goal isn’t concrete, it can never be changed. And that doesn’t make any sense because things change, the world changes. And, that’s true. But I don’t think that’s what it means. I think what it means is that goals are rigid. Meaning if you have a goal, you’ve made a choice, a choice or decision to move towards the goal. Until you’ve made progress toward the goal, you need to be rigid about keeping the goal, because it’s not going to be easy to get there. And the way you get there isn’t always going to be the way that you thought you might. So I think the best way to interpret that is that goals are rigid. Plans, on the other hand, are sand. They flow, they change, they’re impacted by the effort of beginning the pursuit of the goal. So I want to start with that as the preface for this.
And then you may want to say, why are goals so hard. A lot of people have trouble with goals, I have trouble with goals, with setting goals, and with achieving goals from time to time. And I think it’s because picking a goal, choosing a goal is really easy. You just imagine something that you want, and you say that’s a goal. The problem, I think, comes in when you have to start making progress towards the goal. Establishing the goal is the easy part, and then trying to figure out what’s the first step I should take towards this? Or, even worse, how do I go from A to Z, like A is where I’m at now, Z is where the goal is. That seems like way too far for me to travel. And so I don’t even take the first step, which means I don’t take the second step, which means I don’t get closer to the goal, which means I’m off track, which means my goal is not rigid. And then I want to start changing a goal or ignoring it or putting it in a drawer somewhere and forgetting about it. So I think the most important thing with goals is that it doesn’t matter what goal you set. Preferably, it’d be nice if it’s actually achievable. You’ll have some hard work, but it’s really the steps towards the goal that require all the work. And the plans, obviously, like the metaphor of the sand, the plans can change. And they have to change, and they will change. Because as you go along, things are going to get in the way, things are going to come up that you didn’t anticipate, people are going to leave, people are going to change their minds, all kinds of things can happen. And you may very well go down the wrong path for a while and then figure out oh, this isn’t the way to the goal, this is the way away from the goal. And you’re going to have to turn around and redirect; that’s the plan. That’s the fluidity of the plans.
But then we started talking about three types of goal setters, and I want to walk through these with you. The first is the person who tells you they have no goals. And I don’t think there’s a human being alive, that has no goals. I think there are a lot of human beings alive who have goals, they make no progress toward achieving for the reasons that I that I mentioned earlier. And so for some, it’s easy to say, Well, I just have no goals. And then when they don’t hit the goals, they can say, well, I didn’t have any goals to hit anyway. And when they do have something good. They say why? Why do I need goals? Look, this happened, it’s great. High performers. I’ve been around high performers who say they have no goals, and I just don’t believe them. Because you don’t become a high performer without goals. And I mean, my sense is that it’s really simple. If you’re a leader, or you’re an entrepreneur, or you’re in charge of anything, even in charge of yourself, and you have no goals, I can guarantee one thing — I shouldn’t say I can guarantee that because I can’t guarantee it. And I don’t want to tell you what to do — but I know from my experience that if you have no goals, you are underperforming what you are capable of, plain and simple. You are underperforming what you are capable of. And you can write that off, you can be okay with it, you can tell me I’m full of you know what, but I will tell you that in my experience with lots and lots of entrepreneurs, for example, if you tell me you have no goals, you are definitely underperforming.
Then there are other people who are really fixated on short-term goals. I love short-term goals, because they’re very, very, very important toward accomplishing longer-term goals. It’s like just like the plans, you start making steps towards a goal with a plan, you achieve the goal, you are that much closer to establishing and achieving your next goal. And I think short-term goals are really great for everybody. They’re particularly great for businesses because businesses need to achieve certain things in order to make the progress they need to make and in order for the company and the people within it to continue to stress and challenge their capabilities. So big believer in 90-day goals, big believer in annual goals, big believer in one-, two- and even three-year goals. If you’re running ELLs in your business, or you’re running some other type of goal-setting, program, it’s probably built similar to that — 90-day, one-year, two-year, maybe three-year. And then you know, a lot of people say well, there’s no point in me planning out further than three years or one year or two years. And I think there’s actually something to that when it comes to business. Because you know, businesses change a lot, they’ve got all kinds of things impacting them, and a five-year goal or a 10-year goal. It just may be very, very difficult to predict and stick with, because so many things can change, but the shorter term ones I think, are absolutely necessary for business and long term goals.
I think long-term goals are exceptionally important for you. They may not be important for the business, or they may not be as valuable for the business ,but long-term goals are really important for you. And what I mean by that — you, as a person are capable of achieving a lot, you’re capable of challenging yourself a lot. And you are not your business. You are you. And you have a long-term view of you. And when you have a long-term view of you, you’ve got a lot of space to fill, you have an opportunity to put things out there that you can work on over time, over a long period of time, without the pressure of hitting it in the next 90 days, for example.
So what I did, and this was through Strategic Coach, when I was in that program, I established long-term goals for myself, this was in 2008. I set these to the next two 10-year periods, so 2008 until 2028. And I separated those into the first 10-year period, when I would be 43 to age 53. In the second 10-year period from when I would be 54 to 63, or whatever the math is on that. And I wrote down a bunch of goals that I had for accomplishing in those two 10-year periods. I was 43 at the time that I that I did this, and I do not include those goals as part of my short-term goal setting, maybe I should, but I don’t. And I don’t look at them very frequently, either. And I’m not particularly concerned with achieving every single one of them. There’s probably 15 or so in each 10-year period. What I am concerned with, and what I am interested in is the fact that I have those goals out there; my mind, my brain is working toward those goals, even when I don’t realize that it is, so I move forward towards them again without even knowing that I am, and when I look at them every year or so; I do have them up in my office, but I walk past them all the time and never look at them. But when I do look at them every year, even though I haven’t included them in my short-term goals, you’d be amazed how many of them I’ve either accomplished or come close to accomplishing over that time. Because even though I don’t remember, in my mind I remember some and it’s working on that. So I think long-term goals, they may seem they may seem silly, and they can be silly, you can put anything out there that you want. Because it’s you and you have a long-term view on you, you have a long-term future on you. And I just feel like it’s smart. And I just feel like it’s worthwhile. And I don’t want to get to the point where I didn’t have those and I’m much wiser than I am now (aka older) and I don’t want to be stuck thinking about what I’m going to be doing. Even if the goals that I have are not the ones that I actually need. I can add, subtract. These aren’t the rigid goals, right? These aren’t the super rigid goals because they are too far out to be rigid. These are the mind-expanding goals. These are the abundance of mind goals. These are my goals. These are goals that are personal to you. So I’m going to leave you with this. I do believe that helping people aspire and activate to be goal-setters and goal-achievers is one of the most powerful things you can do, first of all for yourself, but second of all, for everyone, around you, everyone you interact with, particularly in a work environment. I think it’s the greatest gift you can give them. Because the more people that create and achieve goals and have the habit of doing that, meaning they actually write it down, they do it on a regular basis, and they evaluate their progress towards it, I just feel like that opens up so much human potential. When you open up human potential, you get great, amazing impacts and results that aren’t just limited to the person. They’re not limited just to the person. They’re expanded to everyone around that person and maybe to the world.
So goals in concrete, plans in sand. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.