Is goal-setting for you a target or a chore? Is it a simple matter of choosing the target and flinging off an arrow at it, hitting the bullseye? Or does it seem like a slog up the highest hill you can imagine? We would all be so lucky to have it be the former, but most times it is the later. The idea of a target is good for goal setting because it is important to focus on what we want to achieve. But we must realize that the time and effort involved is much more. And the expectation of quick sucess can be disheartening.

I think it is better to think of it as a race that you run, or a project – like a building- that you construct. Both involve a consistent effort over a period of time with different phases that you go though.

To run a race you have to be prepared. You have to be in good physical shape which involves working out and building muscle and endurance before you start the race. You have to have the right clothes and especially the correct footwear. Eating properly and hydration before the race is important as well as considering the weather. Depending on the length you will want to bring water and plan for what you will eat after you finish. And if it is a long race, like a half or full marathon, there will be physical and psychological walls that you will need to push through to complete the race. Of course you also need to know where the race begins and where the finish line is and follow all the signs for the course.

For a project, like a building, you have many things to consider. You need to have a plan with many details. You need to master the skills needed to complete the work. And you need to assemble the necessary tools. There will be several phases as you work the project and that can help you see your progress. A good foundation is essential for any building, good framing is important to keep everything together and provide support for plumbing, electricity, etc. And a solid roof keeps everything dry when you get done. You also will need to gather skilled helpers, because no one builds a house by themselves.

Thus we see that goal setting is not just a shot in the dark. It is a process of planned pursuit of a place you want to go, a building of success that you can take pleasure in. And most goals are not an end in themselves but rather a launching pad for further goal setting. We can learn and grow by every action we take and that momentum keeps us forward looking.

Don’t be discouraged at the process. Begin and persist. Tomorrow we will revisit SMART goals.