Why do we do the things we do?
I’m not talking about Simon-Sinek-Start-With-Why, I’m talking about why we choose the goals we choose, why we fail to achieve so many of them, and what we think will happen if those goals are accomplished.
Most goals are set in the month of January and usually those goals (that are abandoned by February 1) are set without any thought of what will happen once that goal is achieved: the end result we want to happen.
We decide we are going to make $10 million this year, without ever understanding what benefit that money brings into our lives. What will that money provide? Freedom? Purchasing power?
We decide we are going to lose 30 pounds in the next six months without ever deciding on the real goal of doing that. Is it health? Is it aesthetics?
What is the end behind the means – because a simple number just isn’t going to move you when the path gets hard. We need emotion to move us forward, and emotion is rarely found in a spreadsheet. We need to know how the means will lead to an end that we can get excited about day after day. The problem with focusing on the means rather than the ends is that we are giving up our highest level of motivation, and we are robbing ourselves of the joy that comes after achieving a goal.
Because we haven’t identified the actual end goal, once we have $1 million in the bank we will immediately start looking for the next big thing, simply because we didn’t decide what to do with the million dollars in the bank. The means did not lead to a satisfactory end because the end was not the goal in the first place.
This goal setting philosophy allows us to have a vision that we are constantly working towards, while never losing focus on how we are going to get there. It also keeps us from the “What’s Next” trap: when we achieve goals only to find they’re empty and we are still hungry for fulfillment. When you’re working toward an end, the work is easy. When you’re working toward a randomly chosen number…that’s when things get tricky, when we can start making deals with ourselves, when we put off the things we should do because each action is such a teeny tiny part of the whole.
How do you turn means goals into ends? Try asking “Then what?” over and over until you get to the core of the goal.
I want to make a million dollars in sales by the end of 2021.
I will hire 3 additional staff and be able to focus on growth instead of fighting fires.
I will be able to bring _______ into the world.
There is your end goal. The million dollars is just a means.
Let’s try it with weight loss.
I want to lose 30 lbs.
My favourite clothes will fit and I’ll feel good walking into any room anywhere.
I’ll feel confident and more motivated to do more things.
My life will be filled with beauty and new experiences.
That’s the end goal. And the means are just a vehicle to get there…and in this case, they’re just one version of those means – so you can’t fail at this.
Setting an ends goal that makes you happy ensures that you won’t be left miserable while on the journey to achievement, and that the achievement won’t ever feel empty. You are striving for something bigger than a number, bigger than yourself, and you will find myriad ways of achieving it – ways that you are blind to while being dedicated to the means you’ve chosen.
Last year I set three end goals, three ways I want my life to go, three reasons that I have all of the means goals that I have. Those goals rolled forward into 2021 naturally, I still seek these things, and now I have a million more paths to achieving them than I could have imagined originally. Ends goal setting opened my eyes to possibilities instead of limiting myself to my own ideas.
I want to live in beauty,
I want to give from my surplus,
and I want to experience miracles.
In order to do those things there are a whole lot of means to those ends, but that’s never my focus.
I am able to live my life constantly working towards larger visions, while never losing focus on the way I’m going to get there.
So if you’re looking to do more, be more, and have more of what you want, start this year by setting end goals and let the means be achieved through aligned habits and actions.