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Insights: Goals, what Goals?
December 15, 2009

Goals, what Goals?

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In this issue, Bill argues that December is a great time, not to set goals, necessarily, but to consider the greater context within which you should be setting personal goals that will lead to a life of greater joy and fulfillment

Welcome to the last edition of Insights for 2009.

Time to ease the writer's cramp with a well-earned break, methinks! Normal service will be resumed in the second week of January.

Personal goals

As the year draws to a close I want to dwell a little on personal goals.

If you're an employee of a company, my guess is you will have had some sort of annual review to assess where you are in terms of the goals and targets you set at the beginning of the year. If so, I hope the review went really well and that it translates into some form of recognition - financial or otherwise!

But let's talk, for a moment, about personal goals.

Reactive mode

"Goals, what goals?"

The majority of people go through life in reactive mode, that is they take what life throws at them and handle it as best they can, hoping, each year, that life will be a little easier on them than it was before. For these people, life doesn't provide either the space or the time to dabble in the illusory pursuit of goal setting.

Many people, who operate in this reactive mode, go through life without ever consciously setting goals or even knowing what it means to have goals. Like all humans, they have dreams, desires and wishes - but these remain highly conceptual - vague, remote ideas and aspirations, totally disconnected with their daily lives.

Some reactives have flirted with the idea but without a proper understanding of what makes effective goals and how to achieve them, their relationship with goals remains uncomfortable and their attitude sceptical. Any goals they may have set remain, needless to say, elusive.

Mastered the art

A minority in this world have mastered the art of goal setting and goal getting in their personal lives. They are the ones with a spring in the step and a twinkle in the eye. They know what they want and they have a good idea of how to get it - or at least have fun trying. They understand that they are the creators of their own destiny and they worry little about the surprises that life may throw at them as they have a plan B and a plan C, just in case.

A few of these special 'goal-setting and getting' types have taken things one step further. They have successfully put the whole idea of goals into the right context by taking time to get to grips with what their true purpose is on this planet and using goal setting as an effective technique to move them steadily along the inspired path that they have chosen.

Immensely powerful tools

Goals, as goals go, are useful and often constructive motivators of action. Goals, when conceived and structured to align with an overarching purpose are immensely powerful tools for achieving joy and fulfillment in life.

Let me switch back to the corporate environment in order to illustrate what I am saying.

If you have ever worked as part of a company, division or team with a strong, clear and appealing vision of what it is aiming for, you will no doubt have found the attainment of appropriately aligned goals to be quite exhilarating. The feeling of achieving something that substantially promotes the common purpose can be pretty heady stuff.

On the other hand, if you've ever worked with a team that has no clearly articulated idea of its purpose, you'll know that getting goals can be a bit like having friends who overstay their welcome late on a Sunday evening, enjoyable - but a touch disconcerting!

Now, on that subject, you're probably reading this with half a mind on all the things you need to do before downing tools for the year or getting away on holiday or whatever, so let me get straight to the point...

Connect with your life purpose

If you want to enjoy a proactive and meaningful life, then learning how to set goals and go about achieving them, is vital. If, however, you want to experience true personal freedom and a life of genuine fulfillment and joy, you first need to connect with your life purpose.

How, you might ask?

You'll make a good start if you use the break in day-to-day routine - that most of us are fortunate to have during the festive season - to find some personal space and simply reflect on what it is you are passionate about and truly love doing. Try to quieten the voice of your ego that will be shouting: "Don't be silly, what if..." as it tries to drown out the soft, yet powerful message from your inner voice.

In 2010 we'll visit the subject of goals in more detail - highly appropriate really given the world cup is 'coming to town'!

Until then, I wish you a joyous, constructive and relaxing time.

Warm regards,


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