I will be rich. I will have the perfect body. I will be super organized. Goals, we all have them. We write them down, and what happens? They just stay in our notebooks or journal or a file on our computer. That is because end goals are what we think we need to set. But the reality is that end goals don’t really work. What does work? Converting your goals into projects. Projects get done. Goals get talked about.
The Truth About End Goals
An end goal is the final place you want to “end up” in a certain aspect of your life. This could be better health, more money, more travel, getting closer to your spouse, whatever. But the truth is, most people don’t achieve the goals they set out to achieve.
According to the Times-Tribune, only 8% of people complete or achieve their New Year’s Resolution. Clinical Psychologists blame this on self-sabotage caused by a lack of self-discipline.
And while self-discipline is a major contributor, I think a big factor is the whole idea of goals and end goal setting. Goals, in our society, have turned into another word for a dream. A goal is treated like something I would like to see happen someday.
This is not the attitude you need to have in order to get things done. In fact, just having a goal sort of sets you up for failure if you tell everyone about it. This is because you get a hit of dopamine just by talking about your lofty goals. This sense of accomplishment actually prevents you from then going on to pursue the goal.
So, in short, if less than 1 in 10 people achieve a goal, there’s probably something wrong with the way we set goals.
What Is The Difference Between An End Goal & A Project?
My current view (and I am working on this as I write this) is that we need to turn goals into projects. Think about it. Goals get talked about. Projects get done. Imagine you had a goal to paint the walls in your bedroom.
If you used the “goal setting” formula, you would bust out a piece of paper and write down your goal. You may even go cut out pictures of people smiling next to their beautifully painted bedroom walls. You would tell all your friends and family your intentions. You might join a Facebook group and share your goal of painting your bedroom wall.
Heck, you might even pick out a color or two or three!
And then you would wait. You would talk about it when it comes up, but you wouldn’t really “do” anything. Maybe you read a book about painting or go to a painting class, or even funnier – buy an online course about painting your bedroom walls.
But at the end of the day, it seems like nothing gets done when you set an “end goal” and do nothing further.
Instead, think about turning that goal into a project. If painting your bedroom becomes a project, you would actually create a plan. First, you would choose a deadline when the walls have to be painted by. Then, everything else would work backward from that point.
Here are the aspects I’ve uncovered when it comes to what to focus on in a project. Again, this is a work in progress, but it’s a good starting point:
- Time – an indefinite period (usually marked by specific attributes or activities)
- Talent – aptitude or skill
- Tenacity – the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence
- Tribe – External group community that supports you and provides feedback
- Team – Internal group who works on the project with you
- Trail- Your steps to get there. This is like a Plan or Strategy
- Target- The end goal you want to achieve including your vision.
What you want to do is focus on each of these areas and fill in the gaps. Obviously, there’s so much more that can be said about this topic and I’ll continue to write about it. But, you really want to change the way you think about goals from now on.
So, to complete the analogy. If you were going to paint your bedroom as a project, you would choose the date it will be done by and the dates you will do the painting. You will make sure you or someone you hire has the talent to perform the task. Your tenacity must exist or you’ll never do the job.
You can consult your tribe (aka Home Depot) for help on choosing the right type of paint, etc. You assemble your team of painters from people you know who can help you. You create the plan of attack. Who will tape the corners, who will paint, who will move the bed?
And you have your final target set – your end goal. You make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them.
Then you go do what you have to do.
Final Thoughts On End Goals
End goals aren’t bad things. I don’t want to come across in that way. I just want you to start thinking of goals as one small part of the bigger picture. Goals are dreams. They are fun to talk about, but rarely do they come to pass.
Projects, on the other hand, are very tangible. They require thought and planning. They get done. The really great news is there’s a whole world of project management theory out there to learn from.
My goal is to take everything I’ve picked up from project management and planning (I got an MBA btw lol) and apply it to goal setting. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.
Any questions, comments, advice, etc please share below.