I’m going to make a confession. I realise that this is probably a cardinal sin for a coach, but there are times when I actually prefer not to set goals.
I absolutely agree that goals are vital and that without them we can easily drift aimlessly through life. It’s really important to have a vision and to know where you want to go. But goals have their downsides too. Sometimes we can be so relentlessly focused on a particular goal, and so blinkered, that we don’t spot the potential opportunities that may present themselves to us.
For me, one of the joys of life are those completely unexpected things that occur and which can change the course of our lives. But you’ve got to be open to seeing them and prepared to abandon your original plan and follow a new path.
A colleague recently told me a great story about a completely ‘goal-less’ day he had spent a few weeks ago. He arrived at his local train station and asked at the ticket office for a return ticket. When asked where he wanted to go, he invited the ticket officer to suggest a destination. And so it was that he ended up having a wonderful day in Lyme Regis! He had no plan. No goal — other than to spend the day somewhere different. He was completely open to chance encounters and experiences.
I’m not suggesting that we abandon the concept of goal setting altogether — far from it. It remains the bedrock of focused action and productivity. Maybe the key is being prepared to do things differently every now and again. So if you’re a ‘go with the flow’ person you could try a spell of setting and sticking to specific goals and see how that feels. Equally, if you’re a stickler for living by your goals, why not experiment with being goal-less for a day.
There are times when we need to set sail towards a fixed and pre-determined point on the horizon, but others when we can surrender to the joy and delight of going wherever the currents take us.
Wherever you’re headed, have a great month.