Why you don’t always need a big audacious goal

If you want to get things done you need goals, don’t you? Find out your “why”, get clear on your values and where you want to get to, and then set goals and create action lists.

But is that always the best way?

Sometimes we get goal fatigue and letting ourselves off the hook for a bit will actually help us to make progress.

Take running for example. Running is my medicine – it keeps me sane and gets me out in the fresh air and as close to nature as you can get in the second city.

But I’m also highly competitive, so I like to have a goal, whether that’s training for a half marathon or beating my personal best time for 5k.

Over the last year or so my running has been pretty on and off, largely because I was struggling to get over an ankle injury. Every time I upped my mileage, my ankle would start seriously complaining.

Set simple goals

So I decided to ease off. At the start of the year I made a commitment to run only when I felt like it, for as long as I felt like it. No big audacious goals in sight. I ran about once a week, often for just a mile, and added extra sessions as and when I wanted to.

Meanwhile, the running inspired me to eat more healthily and I gradually started doing a kettlebell routine, just introducing one exercise at a time so it didn’t feel like a big deal.

As the warmer weather made it easier to get up and run, I felt ready to add a couple more miles to my runs, and then once I’d got used to running 3 miles, I decided to try a local parkrun. (In case the parkrun movement has passed you by, free timed 5km runs are held in parks all over the UK and across the world every Saturday morning at 9am.)

My main motivation for doing parkrun was to have something that my eldest son and I could do together, so I had no speed goals. He’s eight and doesn’t do a lot of running, so our best time is 36 minutes 27 seconds for 5km. We both loved our first parkrun (there was a bit of moaning from Freddie but he enjoyed beating me on the hill at the end) and I’ve run a parkrun every free Saturday I’ve had ever since.

Anyway, the upshot of this leisurely, goal-free running is that I just ran the fastest 5km of my post-children life, finishing parkrun in 28 minutes 20 seconds (Freddie didn’t join me as he was saving his energy for a golf competition). I’m not going to break any world records, but I’m three whole minutes faster than I was at the start of June.

Take action

So how can we apply this to our work? My belief is that it comes back to process goals. You can’t always control the outcomes of what you do, but you can control the actions you take.

If setting a big audacious goal is working for you, then stick with it. But if you’re tired of striving towards massive goals, then take outcomes out of the equation for a bit. Set an easy goal of making one follow-up call a day, writing one blog post a fortnight, or sending out a regular email to your clients and contacts.

It has to be so easy that you can’t fail at it. Then make the follow-up calls, write the blog posts, send the emails, put the systems in place – do whatever it is you’ve said you’ll do and see what happens.

You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

If you need help to get better results from your marketing efforts, especially with website copy, blogs and email campaigns, please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 0121 405 0071, or contact me here.