Goal setting is a term or phrase which all working professionals are aware of and have a love-hate relationship with. Most goal setting exercises start with a senior consultant standing by a whiteboard and asking something like, “What does success look like to you? In very specific terms, what do you want to achieve?”. If we are serious about achieving our goals, however, we should start with a much different question. Rather than considering what kind of success we want, we should ask, “What kind of pain do I want?”.
Everybody wants success; everybody wants to earn more money; everybody wants fame and popularity; everybody wants to start up and run a successful venture. The real challenge is not determining if we want the result, but if we are willing to accept the sacrifices required to achieve our goal. Do we want the lifestyle that comes with our quest? Do we want the boring and ugly process that comes before the exciting and glamorous outcome?
It is easy to sit around and think what we could do or what we would like to do. It is an entirely different thing to accept the trade-offs that come with our goals. It is easy to compare ourselves with successful leaders and entrepreneurs but it is difficult to step into their shoes. A glimpse into their career would reveal the numerous hurdles they have overcome to become what they are today.
Everybody wants a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian. This brings us to our first key insight. Goal setting is not only about choosing the rewards we want to enjoy, but also the costs we are willing to pay.
Goal setting is, therefore, an attitude and not an activity.