How to Focus Fuzzy Goals


Not every goal in life presents itself with a bulls-eye clearly marked.

Sometimes you know you want or need to move your life in a new direction, you see the direction, but can’t quite get the destination clear.

Better health. College degree. Happy life. Get a job. Publish a novel. Find a church. Get out of debt. Get married.

Those are all examples of Fuzzy Goals.

Reachable goals are focused.

A couple years ago I was lying in bed recovering from cancer surgery. I needed a goal or two that would keep me fighting to get well.

Browsing through Facebook I saw an ad for a webinar by a Blog Guru. It promised that I could learn to be a blogger and make money from the work. I bought the course and studied, and worked through the Modules.

I am fortunate to have opinions, and my college minor was English, so I had no difficulty writing blog posts. I count 60 posts that I have published.

But I have attracted only a dozen subscribers. A typical week sees only 4 who actually read the posts.

Something is wrong.

I have come to understand that my goal was unclear. Fuzzy.

My fuzzy goal was to ‘help people’ who wanted to reach Life Goals (again, Fuzzy).

An interesting thing about working toward a fuzzy goal is that when you get close to the target, you’re in the fuzz, and it can appear that you’ve hit the target.

Goals 101

Shoot at nothing and you’ll likely hit it, but, so what? What have you accomplished?

You can be very busy doing, and get nowhere.

It was time for me to take my own advice and learn more about Goals. I discovered there are:

Time Categories of Goals

1. Short-time goals – Changes and Improvements that can be accomplished in a few months to a year.

2. Long-time goals – Shaping yourself and your life that will potentially take years to complete.

3. Life-time goals – Results for these goals may take decades to realize.

Goals are reached in steps.

When the steps are carefully chosen, based on experience and study, the journey is quicker and more pleasant.

A coach is a good investment. Sometimes books, blogs, Internet search results can serve as coaches. Sometimes a flesh-and-blood coach is best.

Identify Your Goals

Get in an environment that encourages you to think, to reflect, to meditate. Have paper and pencil or your favorite device for recording your thoughts and ideas.

I like to work with noise in the background, the TV or music. That blocks out other intermittent noises that are distracting to me.

As you begin identifying goals you will undoubtedly include fuzzy ideas in your lists. That’s okay. It’s a starting point.

Create a written list, a Note on your phone, Google doc, something that you will have access to when a thought or insight pops.

Some prompts that might help you uncover your true goals:

>>You have met your Genie and have heard the fateful words, “You have three wishes to ask of me.” Only three. What would you wish for?

>>List what you DON’T want.

>>Describe your ideal self.

>>Write your eulogy.

>>What accomplishment idea motivates you to ‘get up and do’?

>>In Reflection mode: think about your life as a block-buster movie. What scenes and accomplishments would be featured?

Own Your Goals

Send me a copy of your list. I’m interested in what you want to accomplish. You can use the Comment box online or email me: eldon@eldonroberts.com

Oh, regarding my Goals for writing this blog and the content that I publish, I recently participated in a series of Webinars from Michael Hyatt which helped me clarify my purpose and my message.

Next week we’ll look at the 7 categories of goals and ways to build paths to accomplishment.

Achieving Your Goals In an Onion Way

Success, at its heart, isn’t complicated. But defining success seems to be squishy.

Many people write about success, but emphasize different paths to reach the destination.

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Many claim to be experts on the topic, but disagree on what it actually looks like when you arrive.

Does money equate with success?

Is freedom the measure that counts?

How does traveling the world fit in?

I look back at my 50 years as an educator and see Success.

I didn’t get rich. I didn’t always have the freedom to do as I wished. I traveled little of the world.

I don’t regret my career path. I don’t see it as less than what I should have achieved.

Food might help to illustrate some features of success.

Stop right now and remember the best meal you’ve ever eaten.

What made it great?

I would venture to predict that you know friends who would not consider your meal to be even acceptable. What makes the difference between their taste and yours?

Your taste buds revel as they bathe in the juices and flavors and textures of cuisine that you have experienced by choice and opportunity.

My choices and opportunities have been different from yours. But my description of one of my meals as ‘exquisite cuisine’ is just as true – for me.

It all depends on the personal choice and definition.

So it is with success.

My definition may not match yours, but my joy as I achieve, is real and complete.

The definition, the expectation, determines the quality of achievement.

Achieving the goal that you defined produces great satisfaction in the accomplishment.

The most satifying Successes are layered – like an Onion.

I have loved writing since my early teen years. I wrote poetry and short stories and essays, but dreamed that one day I would write and publish a novel.

I created a definition of success many years ago that invloved being a published author.

I achieved that goal a few months ago. I achieved success – based on reaching that goal.

What next?

You know that it doesn’t take long before the thrill of achieving wears off, and you’re casting about for something else to challenge you. A new goal is needed so a new journey can begin.

For myself, I have embarked on a journey of Onion Goals.

The outer layer of the Onion is a short-term goal. One that I can reach soon enough that the anticipation of the reward keeps me working.

 

My weekly blog could equate to the first layer of my Onion.

But, one can write and publish a blog within one week. The mind needs more complex goals than that.

Publishing my first novel was a second layer. I already had the rough draft written by hand. Typing, editing, proofing and publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing stretched out for several weeks, but is now completed. That success still feels good.

Other layers of my Onion involve: publishing a Learning Podcast; writing Book 2 and Book 3 of my novel; creating a showcase website for my Nature Photography; a Teacher Skills member website offering CEUs around the theme of Excellence in Education.

As I accomplish one onion layer, I define the next layer to continue the challenge with a new goal.

I did not set this as my goal, but, I am now Manager of the Social Media outreach of my local church. This makes use of my photography skills, refreshes my video editing skills, and forces me to work on my social persona.

I also teach an adult Bible study class each week. These were not intentionally defined in the layers of my Onion Vision, but God has His ways.

Success, you see, is not a final destination. It is a journey. Sometimes it’s a short, straight drive. Sometimes there are valuable, scenic stops throughout the trip at learning stations.

Victory Celebration locations are also important to arrange and manage.

While my definition of success is different from yours, we probably have common portions within the Big Picture. I have three wonderful children and an amazing wife who persists in loving me. Those alone certainly qualify as Achieved Success.

In a variation on the Haiku style of poetry ( 5 – 12 – 7 ) a poem:

Life is like an onion:

It holds the nuances of savory goodness;

Sometimes it makes you cry.

Reach out to me through the Comments or the email options. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading.

Increase Your Stamina

As we continue to work toward achieving your goals, let’s look at some physical and mental abilities that work for you to reach your goal.

 

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The Connected Skill: Organization with its skills and habits moves you to your goal faster.

Disorganization is evident when you spend more than a few minutes looking for your materials and tools.

The good news is that you can get more organized.

I’d recommend that you identify a friend who is admired for being organized and enlist his or her help. Be open to change. Don’t get your feelings hurt when you discover that you have to make some changes to your habits.

The Connected Skill: Consistent Effort is a must to move you toward your goal.

Create a schedule on paper. Digital schedules and calendars are great, but a paper hanging on the wall will be seen more often and stick better in your memory. Plus others around you need to know, and can be useful to support and encourage you.

The Connected Skill: Persistent Effort is also critical in achieving your goal.

Doing the work once on a schedule will achieve only the weekly goal. Your long-term goal will require repeated effort over time – perhaps years.

The Connected Skill: Stamina refers to how much pain can you tolerate and still keep pushing toward your goal.

A lack of stamina is often the enemy that prevents people from reaching their goals.

The story is told of an old prospector who had been working his claim for years without finding gold. Finally he gave up. He traded his claim for 6 sticks of dynamite, went into the mine and blew himself up. The man with whom he had traded went into the blast area and discovered what turned out to be the richest gold strike in history.

We need Skills in:
Organization
Consistency
Persistence
Stamina

The lack of these connected skills will hinder you, perhaps even prevent you – from achieving your dreams.

How much stamina we will need is hidden from our view at the beginning of a mission. I have been writing and publishing my blog for over a year now. I don’t have hundreds of subscribers, nor am I banking any profits from the work.

A Previous post (Stamina Achieves Your Goals) encouraged you to create a goal over which you have control. My personal goals are 1) Publish a post each week, and 2) that my ideas and efforts will help someone. I know it has helped me.

It is my opinion that stamina is the most important from the list above.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about research done to better understand the relationship between performance and physical stamina.

Mental stamina is where physical stamina originates. So the information from the research is useful for those of us who are athletes of the mind.

The feeling of discouragement in continuing an effort, whether mental or physical, is really just a feeling. The good news is that feelings are under your control, and can be changed.

In practical terms, by changing our belief about how difficult the task is, we can change the results of our efforts.

Research has also shown that what we look at influences our achievement. Cyclists who were shown photos of smiling faces achieved a performance boost over when they were shown photos of frowning faces.

Perhaps the most powerful and widely applicable technique for changing how your brain interprets incoming signals is to train yourself with motivational self-talk.

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have an internal monologue running through your head during difficult tasks, and it has a measurable impact on how effortful you perceive those tasks to be.”

WSJ Appeared in the February 3, 2018, print edition as ‘Head Games The Mental Tricks Of Athletic Endurance.’

How could this be applied to mental stamina?

I propose a 5-Step Plan that will implement findings from the research.

 

Suggested Plan

1. Establish a written schedule, a day or days that you will work toward your goal

List each day

Schedule all of your events for each day

Lock in a time that you know will be available to work toward the chosen goal

You might begin with 1-day of work per week if you need to fit this into a regular work schedule.

2. Use Circuit Workouts; break the work time into a Work – Rest pattern.

Decide on a length of time per session

break the length into 12-15 minute bursts of undistracted work

followed by 3-5 minutes of rest

then back to the next workout.

3. Plan Recovery time in your schedule. This is different from the Circuit Cycle rest time.

For some, a good night’s sleep is all the recovery time they need.

For others it might be a day or two between episodes of work.

I recommend building a Sabbath into your weekly routine. Take the entire day off.

Maybe go to church; maybe do a family outing.

God time and Family time are both important.

4. Feed your mind with performance abilities advertisements

Read the writings of Self-Help and Self-Improvement gurus.

Carnegie, Hill, Ziglar…

5. Push your perceived abilities boundaries

Your mind has a Limit setting. An “I can’t do any more” switch.

Push to do more when you reach that limit.

 

Think about areas about which you regularly say, “I’m not good at that.” Write a list. Begin working on one or more of the listed skills. Get a teacher to help you.

Pushing into the skills you’re not good at or comfortable in will create growth in all areas.

Other factors that contribute to a life focused on achieving your goals:

Diet, what media you use to feed your brain, how much time you spend with screen media, the types and quantities of liquid intake, physical exercise, your overall health.

Reach out to me with comments or suggestions.

Thank you for reading.

Stamina Achieves Your Goals

If you have been reading or listening to the email and webinar messages in your Facebook feed and Inbox, you are likely convinced that success can be defined in specific numbers.

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Dozens of people, perhaps hundreds, preach the Gospel of Success with promises of your achievement in return for paying them to access their courses.

You are dazzled by the exorbitant “values” of the Bonuses offered for a short time. The threat of a limited time to act increases the thrill of ordering. Are these courses really the keys to success?

If you Join and pattern your online presence according to their formula, will you experience a sudden popularity, and have email addresses pouring in to your aggregator?

But, No guarantee.

From my perspective of 70-plus years, success is not specifically defined by large numbers.

Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint Water explains, “My definition of success is knowing that what you are doing is helping you and others lead a better, happier, healthier life.”

Success seldom results from an unexpected encounter with magic. I am not intending to cast any doubt on the value and validity of the “get 1000 email addresses and start making money” programs offered in webinars. I have friends who have achieved monthly income from pursuing a writing niche.

Let’s get started with putting some ideas about achieving goals to work.

Write your definition of ‘success.’

Be careful with this step. The definition you choose will be used to measure your achievement. If you decide that 1,000 email addresses will define Success, then 800 will be a failure.

Quantity that you cannot control probably shouldn’t be used to define your achievement.

Work to come up with a measurement that you can control.

Example…

I write this blog. I can control whether or not I write and publish something each week.

Apply quantity to that and I might define my success this way: Write and publish a meaningful blog post each week for one year.

Or I might limit the time more closely to achieve a reward in a shorter time: I will write and publish each week this month.

Soon that achievement will become a habit that doesn’t need as much approval to be continued. Then I can go for a full year of posts.

I had to hire a yard service to take care of mowing my yard while I was going through cancer treatment and recovery. At the beginning of the mowing season this Spring I decided to tackle the task myself. I wanted to build up my strength and endurance.

I enlisted the help of my 9-year old grandson. On the day of mowing I’d arrange for him to come to the house about 30 minutes after the time I knew I’d start mowing.

I would mow as long as I could, then turn the job over to him to finish. He did great!

For three months we followed that plan. Each week I tried to mow for a longer time.

Finally, I decided to tackle the whole yard, about a one-hour endeavor. (It had taken about 45 minutes when my grandson helped.)

For the past month I have done the job without help. It now takes about 30 minutes for me to recover after the exertion.

My definition of Achieve Success has been reached. I celebrate and reward myself after each workout.

Include a service component to your definition of success. Reach out to someone and help that person in a meaningful way. Contribute to that person achieving a personal need.

In my grass-cutting example, I paid my grandson each time he helped. He used the money to buy books that he wanted to read, and otherr things that his family budget couldn’t provide.

He also was rewarded with the knowledge that he had helped me, and that he was big enough to learn to handle the mower on his own.

Each of these parts of the definition of Success involve stamina. They are not one-off events.

Developing endurance is in itself ‘success’

Stamina achieves goals.

If one person is helped as a result of your efforts, consider yourself to have achieved success.

The worthy goal of providing information, counsel, guidance, encouragement to another person may be adequate to motivate you to continue in your work.

Truth be told, the goal of ‘one person helped’ is impossible. The one person you touch will reach out to another, who will continue the ripple effect.

The real purpose of reducing the goal to ‘one’ is to make it obvious that achieving success is possible, maybe even ridiculously simple.

Once you have reached your goal of ‘one’ and have attained success, the natural thing is to reach out to another. And the ripple spreads, ripples criss-cross each other; waves reach shores that you have never walked on.

In the beginning of an effort to reach your goal you will encounter distractions, detractors, and discouragements that will threaten to break your dream, to stop you from achieving.

From the very beginning of your interest in setting and achieving a specific goal, you will need stamina, endurance.

The dictionary defines ‘stamina’ as:

The ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort, resistance to hardship.

The ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.

Synonyms are: endurance, staying power, tirelessness, fortitude, energy, toughness, determination, tenacity, perseverance, grit.

Worthy goals are seldom easy to reach.

Effort is demanded.

Consistent, persistent effort aimed at your goal takes stamina. Stamina reaches goals.

Reaching out to another person, whether it is in writing, speaking, teaching, witnessing, encouraging…

Continuing the effort when you cannot see the desired results –

That’s endurance, stamina.

I think it is safe to say that we each need more stamina, no matter where we are on the road to achieving success.

Share with me your thoughts and experiences with effort, stamina, and achievement.

If you are a writer, consider a guest post on my site.

My Theme is Achieving Success through Finding the Gold in Life’s Experiences.

Make the Commitment to Achieve Success

One of two things will happen after you commit to a specific goal.

1. Success, or
2. Failure.

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Every achiever goes through cycles of confidence spiraling down to discouragement.

Confidence is the mental acknowledgment that “I can do this!”

I have the skills.
I have the will.
I understand the process.
I have made the decision.

What could possibly go wrong?

Delay. That’s what could happen. It takes longer to achieve than I first thought. It’s not as easy as I first thought.

When there is delay, is when the skill of persistence needs to kick in.

Remember when you were a kid and you really, really wanted a particular toy or game that “all the other kids have”?

Remember how you wore your mother and/or father down to resemble jello, and they caved – and you got your toy. Remember?

You still have that skill. Persistence.

To achieve your goal you may have to become that kid again. Work to remember the thoughts that you had as you planned and executed the battle to achieve the treasure as a kid .

A big difference now is that you’re going to use those persistence skills against yourself. There will be no surprise attack.

Persistence will not work without Determination.

Determination – grit. That’s what will combine with persistence to accomplish the work. Any work that moves you closer to achieving your goal.

Determination is inside you. It’s a voice that talks to you when you are making choices. Especially when you are thinking about excuses to not persist. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I’m too tired. It’s too hard. It’s easier to watch TV. It’s more fun to go out with the friends.

Every achiever fights the battle of discouragement.

Discouragement may come from one or more of these seven sources.

1. Looking at and comparing yourself to someone else.

Someone else achieved while you are still working at it. Someone else is reaping the rewards while you are still planting the seeds.

Another word for this is Envy. Envy is always destructive. Envy is filled with excuses and results in ruined friendships. Envy takes your eyes off your own goal.

The only antidote for envy is celebration. Celebrate your friend’s achievements. Throw a party to acknowledge their success. Humble yourself and ask the achiever to become your mentor, your coach.

2. Being unaware of or ignoring the basics of building your business.

Study the basics. Talk with your coach. Be sure you are on the right track.

3. Skipping steps in the process.

Again, get someone to evaluate your process.

4. Insisting on doing it ‘my way’.

It’s easy to believe I’m smart enough to know how. My way is just as good.

5. Attempting something that does not fit you

Go back and look at the study you put into choosing your goal. Then talk with your coach.

6. Leaving God out of the process

I believe in prayer. I believe that God wants me to be a success. I need to be careful not to work toward a goal that moves me away from God.

7. Going against the revealed will of God

If the Bible clearly identifies a goal that is not approved by God, don’t expect success if you set that as your goal.

Even achievement can bring discouragement.

Elijah had an amazing victory on Mt. Carmel. But, 24 hours later he was so discouraged that he asked God to kill him. “Let me die!”

This is the same Elijah who a few months later rode a chariot of fire right into heaven.

Feed your determination every day, several times each day.

I am determined to be consistently persistent in working to achieve my goal.

Consistently. Create a schedule and stick to it.

Schedules are great. But, I know…

Things Happen

We are in the process of trying to close on buying the home we have been renting. We agreed to an “As-Is” purchase. The appraiser came – one of the last steps.

We heard the dreadful words, “The deck has to be fixed before the loan will be approved.”

I knew there were some boards with decay problems. We had plans to remodel the whole deck and fix the problems after the sale.

On the days I was supposed to write last week, I worked on the deck. It’s July. We are having the “hottest days of the Summer” right now.

My schedule to be consistent in writing so that my post is done and scheduled for broadcast melted into the heat and sweat of working on the deck.

Things happen. Don’t let them stop you. Work toward your goal with a different schedule, a different time, a different effort.

But don’t let things bring you to a stop. Pause, recalculate, persist.

Rewards

Persistent, consistent effort builds stamina, creates confidence, and adds real-ness to your goals.

Failure will not win.

 

Write to me about your goals. How do you keep your courage strong?

Eldon @ eldonroberts.com