Separating goal from measurement

Think of a goal you’ve made for yourself recently, one that you feel is currently active or in progress. Choose one from any stroke of life. In 2020, I have many areas of life under development: gaining traction with Soldrevet as a business, living in a new town, building my athletic skills, and staying mentally healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s story is about flipping typical goal-building structures on their heads in the form of personal examples from Soldrevet.

The old me would have made goals that were entirely based on numbers. Why, I wonder? Well, because they are easy to formulate, easy to measure, and likely how I was taught what a goal was. Before we proceed, I’d like to you keep playing along. Go back to that goal I asked you think about. How will you feel when you accomplish it?

Happier than you are today? More at ease? Prouder? Stronger? Wiser? More agile to meet future challenges? Hang on to your answers while you read the rest of the story.


Let’s make some “goals” from a few parts of life, but using our old style based on numbers. Here are some candidate thoughts:

  • Increase website traffic to Soldrevet.com by 10% each month for the coming 12 months.
  • Have 10 new clients by 31 December 2020.
  • Run 10 km per day in 2020.
  • Read 1 hour of a novel per day.

Now, these are what I might call reasonable starter goals. By “starter” I mean starting our mindset for building goals. They are clear and concise. They give some measure how to reach them, and how and when I might hold myself accountable. So let’s start tearing them down to show how I have started to rebuild my goal framing.

As a visitor and reader here, how would you feel if I were to write on 1 January 2021 that I have only 9 new clients? Did I fail? Honestly, we have no idea what to interpret from this number. Nine eager and active clients could be enough to hire 3 new employees and totally break all of my expectations. Nine small, although perhaps enjoyable, clients might bring only 1 hour of work per week, total. Or, should I start chasing the number as the goal itself, I might find myself hamstrung by new activities that lead me astray from my real goal of happiness.

As an eager outdoors adventurer, how would I feel if I ran 3651 km in 2020? This year is a leap year, so in a non-leap year I would have completed my numerical goal while in 2020 I would be 9 km short. We also need to appreciate that 2020 is anything but a typical year. For me, 3600 km is a crazy high distance for a year, yet 10 km is less than a typical day’s run.


I should be giddy to sit down in front of the fire on 31 December 2020 and, reflecting on the year, that Soldrevet has 9 new clients and I have run 3651 km. Surely I have fulfilled my real goals. What I did in my fictitious framework here, was that I conflated my measurements with my goals. When I made measurements and goals one and the same thing, I diminished the emotion behind the goals. Furthermore, I set up the dangerous compulsion to deviate from those emotional drivers to complete an ill-formed goal. As December nears, might I start taking clients who cost me more stress than it’s worth, thereby consuming my readiness to start with a fantastic new opportunity? Might I start running on the flat highway, giving up the joyous freedom of the mountain trails that fill my backyard?

It takes work, don’t get me wrong, to shift my mind away from numerical goals. We’ll return to this topic again in a future post. Until then, here’s an outline for how I reframe goals, starting from the measurement and then turning it upside down to separate my goal from my measurement.

Instruction

  1. Make an old style goal, which I now recognize as a measurement.
  2. Imagine a conversation in which I tell a friend that I am “1 short”, although this friend doesn’t know about my (fictitious) goal.
  3. Visualize my friend’s smile, pat on my back, and follow-up questions about how I did it.
  4. Grab that visualized emotion and test out some new goals for their wording and feeling

Example

  1. Have 10 new clients by 31 December 2020.
  2. “Soldrevet has active 9 clients.”
    “Oh wow, that’s so cool. You started from zero just in July!”
  3. (…)
  4. Feel confident about running my new business because of how my customers respond to working with Soldrevet.”
    “Have the patience with myself to let Soldrevet’s reputation grow.”
    “Keep finding the pride to sell the Soldrevet name to build a supportive foundation of clients and mentors.”
Folldal sunrise in autumn

Building my goals where emotion is substituted for numbers is one part of the Soldrevet perspective. It can be hard work to even make a goal. It often takes reiteration and always requires evaluation the question, “Why am I doing this?”. Future posts (use the search feature at Jeg er jo Soldrevet to look for goals and/or goal setting) will pick up various loose threads that I’m leaving here.


Soldrevet helps you find this freedom through our Professional Coaching outlet. Making more space for ourselves starts with a few short responses on the Soldrevet Initial Contact Form.

Published by Soldrevet

I support the people in my sustainable-development community through soldrevet.com

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