The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Journey is the Reward,

Goals provide many benefits.  First, they give you direction in life.  Second, they are often the fuel for our discipline.  Third, they often become the catalyst to personal and business growth.  As the old adage goes, you have to grow before your business grows.  I learned years ago that possibly the most important part of the goal is not achieving but what you become in the process of pursuing it.  Here are some key distinctions that I have made over the years that enhanced the ability for my goals to drive momentum in all areas of my life.

Strengthening The Vision And Why – In reality, every goal is a vision of how the future can change your life.  That vision or thought process is an examination of how your life will be better as a result of reaching some defined goal.  In essence, it is about accelerating your needs (more money, better friends, more growth, greater contribution, etc.) or accomplishing some need that might not be present in your life (financial freedom, time freedom, love, sense of purpose or significance).  So what drives the fuel behind any goal?  It is the impact that achieving that goal will have on your life.  One way to enhance your vision is to take more time to examine how many different ways fulfilling a goal will change your life.  Remember, we all have many needs.  For example, if your goal is to start a business, most people immediately connect business to money.  However, you should ask yourself these questions.  How will having a business increase your value to the marketplace?  What difference can your success have in your life and the life of your family?  What more can you do in life and be in life if you are financially successful?  Of course there are many other “needs questions” that I could list, but here is the key…  if you really want to fuel your dreams, make sure your dream is bigger than your greatest obstacle.  That means your analysis ultimately must get “out of your head” and “into your heart”.  Emotion is a much more powerful force than logic.  The key to fueling any goal is the connection to that emotion (whether that emotion is pain or pleasure).
The Greatest Dreams Are Ones Bigger Than Your Own Needs – I often see people set “personal goals” like a new car, new home, vacation, etc.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with these types of goals.  However, in my experience, I find that the fulfillment of these goals is often met with great disappointment.  As I began to examine that conclusion, an important distinction came to me.  I found that people who used goals to make their life magical had goals that were focused on OTHERS vs. THEMSELVES.  As you think about your goals, I think you will find the journey of fulfilling your goals will be so much more meaningful when (1) you meet your needs, but more importantly (2) make a difference in someone else’s life.
Make the Journey More Important Than the Destination – A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a Spiritual Retreat in Fiji with a group of spiritual experts from India.  They were both religious and cultural scholars.  They had spent their lives without judgment of any religion or society in an effort to determine how best to serve others.  They shared with me an observation about our Western Culture that changed my entire perspective on goals.  In their observations, the greatest sources of suffering in our culture were (1) comparison to others, and (2) obsessing about the future.  The obsessing about the future was a real eye opener to me because as a typical “over achiever” I was driven by goals.  However, within that process, I was so focused on the destination that I forgot to enjoy the journey.  When I came home from the trip I changed a few key beliefs.  First, I think the journey is more important than the destination.  As one of my mentors would say, success without fulfillment is failure.  Second, when you obsess about your goals, I believe that not only do you suffer but so do those around you.  Finally, it made me realize that the important part of fulfilling goals is the focus on the activity.  Activity was the only path to results so that became the focus of all my goals.  At this point I implemented a simple strategy that had a profoundly positive impact on my life.  I made sure my day was defined by 4 words – growth, contribution, fun and gratitude.  When those words defined my activity, then the journey to fulfilling my goal was not only more worthwhile, but the reward of achieving the goal seemed to be much more fulfilling. 
As you build goals around your businesses, don’t forget that the real purpose of business is to become all you can be and to use that to serve others.  If that last statement defines your business, then I can assure you that your journey in business will be successful, fulfilling and long-term.