The importance of small goals
What a revelation. An evening discussing goal setting and I should have been in my element. After all, I'd only been helping to formulate goals earlier in the day with my clients. Each day, it seems, if I'm not reading about the importance of goal setting I'm either ensuring goals are created appropriately or I'm working toward one.
Yet how can someone just go through life without setting any goals? That surely isn't possible unless you're a child with zero responsibilities enjoying the day to day existence being more concerned about just how quick the holidays pass and how slow the term time drags.
"I know I'll do something. I just don't plan it. I do it when I do it. If it takes years then it takes years." A response I couldn't comprehend. Surely, throughout each day there are micro goals, which we just get on and strive to attain. Even if the train network doesn't like leaves of the line our goal is to get to our destination at a given time.
Whilst still pondering the legibility of this mindset and wondering just how accurate and honest such a claim could be, we were tasked with setting a small goal each for 'homework'. My natural reaction was to oppose such triviality. I can't just come up with a small goal off the top of my head. My goals are big and the steps in-between correspond accordingly. Goals need a timeframe. They need SMART methodology.
It was then I realised that actually we all get about our day and do what needs doing. Just some people plan ahead and others do not. After all, creating a goal is one thing yet the commitment to it is fundamental to its success. The honesty of not wanting to attach a timeframe to a goal is therefore a commitment to not committing. The goal becomes more of an idea, a thought, a dream. It doesn't make it bad. It just means there is no priority or importance to it.
"Goals are just dreams with a deadline"
I was asked again what small goal I would choose. Let's just say having those few minutes to think about me was an eye-opener. I don't get time for me. I hadn't actually thought about what little changes I could make to my day. Selfless goals. Not grand achievements like degrees, diplomas, raising money, climbing mountains, changing career or launching a business. Instead this request seemed to me to be a little, insignificant, trivial little goal. It was a no-brainer that to have some time to think of me would be my small goal. The big question was how to do it – how to turn that dream into a goal.
Two weeks on and I've sat, been mindful, I've allowed my mind to wander and have simply enjoyed the moment. That’s all I had to do. That has been my goal. To enjoy a cup of tea and most importantly to really savour the flavour of it, but also to do absolutely nothing else.
There have been times whilst with the cup in my hand as I’ve been sipping on the brew my eyes have caught sight of something, when I've been desperate to reach for my pen or phone, where my mind has wandered off and where I've been afraid of my ideas being forgotten. Yet for those moments I've not just been aware of my distractions, what's going on around me, and just how anxious others are, but I've been made more aware of how much these small moments of solitude and reflection stop me from running on the hamster wheel of life. Instead they allow me to observe, reflect and take a breath.
This week I read the story 'The Lion and the Mouse' to my son. It was ironic to be recalling the moral of it. As we discussed how good things come in small packages, I couldn’t help but smile.