Marketing Eye

Set your goals for 2015 and make them stick

"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it." - Michaelangelo

Goals. Not the kind kicked by America's best field goal exponent. More the type set by entrepreneurs, businesses, fitness fanatics and anyone who wants to get the most from life. I’ve edited a lot of pieces about goal setting in the last two months. It’s that time of year. Of those, however, who are taking advice about setting their goals, many fail to stick them.

There are several reasons for this and we’ll get to those in a moment, but first let’s take a hypothetical and somewhat offbeat look at what Michaelangelo may have been thinking if he had doubts about painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

“My god, that is high. How will I ever get up there?”

“Does anyone have a ladder? No. Oh well.”

“You want me to lie on my back for how long…?”

 “I’m sorry Pope Sixtus, but I don’t like your ideas and I just won’t do it.”

“Excuse me Pope Sixtus, but I can’t finish the work unless you actually pay me.”

As a goal setter, Michaelangelo would have banished any type of negative thoughts and just got on with the job.

Yet the problem with most people is they can’t banish negativity. We’ve all been there. It took me years to start my own contracting business. I was racked by fear about going out on my own and losing the security of a regular income. It took me two more years to start my own publication. It’s launching in a couple of months amidst a mixture of excitement and the fear of failure. So to paraphrase the great painter, ‘Aim higher than you dare.’

Don’t set low goals, set ones that will push you to new levels. It’s another element of the goal setting philosophy that people get wrong. As people are scared, they set goals they know they will achieve, not the ones they want to achieve. Goal setting is about reaching new heights; it is not about setting comfort zone targets.

Fear, procrastination and a lack of passion for a particular task are the most common obstacles to goal setting success.

Love what you do and the tasks you set for yourself become much easier and attainable.

The following three pieces of wisdom that I have had the privilege of reading whilst researching and or editing are below. But first, take heed of another great Michaelangelo quote: “A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it.”

1. Set systems. It is as James Clear writes for  “I've found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

“In fact, I think I'm going to officially declare 2014 the ‘Year of the Sloth’ so that everyone will be forced to slow down and make consistent, methodical progress rather than chasing sexy goals for a few weeks and then flaming out.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.”

2. Let emotion and passion guide you. This pearl of wisdom from Forbes. “Most people tend to set financial goals that are more about money than about things that motivate them emotionally. Yet goals that are tied to what you truly value are often easier to achieve than goals that are simply tied to money. For example, setting aside 10 percent of your monthly pay isn’t nearly as powerful a motivator as setting a goal to save $10,000 so that you can take your family on a vacation next December. Part of what gives this goal its power is that it’s SMART—in other words, it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and has a Timeline.”

3. Plan and manage. Terry Reynolds, Regional Managing Director Rogen SI offers this: “You will only be able to set and achieve inspiring goals if you have created the right mindset – get inspired, imagine no constraints, write down the goals, then carefully review them. Have an outcome in mind and then put a plan around it. Be sure that past decisions are not restricting what you can do now or in the future.”

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