Infinite Goal Setting!

I can hear the moans and groans of pain already; after all I would imagine that almost every business person on the planet has been through at least one, if not many “Goal Setting” workshops or sessions in their careers. As such I’m willing to bet that you have been taught goal setting almost the exact same way that I have. See if this sounds familiar.

You have to set 3 kinds of goal, Long Term, Short Term and immediate. Your Long Term Goals are 10 years or more, your Short Term goals would be 5 to 10 years and your immediate goals will be anything within the next 10 days. Also when you set your long term goals I don’t want to see any wimpy little goals I was BIG I want HAIRY I want AUDACIOUS or OUTLANDISH goals. Goals that are so HUGE you almost have difficulty ever imagining yourself achieving them.

Once you have written these goals down, yes you must write them down, the 5% of folks who write down their goals achieve more than the other 95% COMBINED. So once you write those goals down, and when you write them down make SURE you put your date of fulfillment on them, after all a goal without a date is a dream! So you have them written down and dated; now you’re going to make a second copy of them and give them to your accountability partner!

What you don’t have an accountability partner; you MUST have an accountability partner. It could be your spouse or your father; it might be your best friend. Ideally your accountability partner is someone for whom you have SO much respect that if you DON’T hit your goals, on or before the date you have set for them you will feel bad! You will feel so bad that you may even find it difficult to face your accountability partner, but face them you MUST, for only in them will you find the strength and encouragement you need to REACH for and stick TO your goals, and perhaps one day even EXCEED them!

Now does that sound familiar? I hope so, because to me that sounds like almost every single goal setting session that I have ever been a part of, and now, believe it or not, I’m going to rattle your world, by telling you that that technique as proposed is ALMOST certainly leading you down a path to failure. I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth now, I’ll bet I have just slaughtered most everyone’s “sacred cow” when it comes to goal setting. Listen closely, names like ZIG and LES and A.L. are being bandied about on the wind. I don’t mean to say that EVERYTHING about that is wrong, just that there is a really big flaw in that logic, and here’s why.

You have just used a concept called “binary goal setting” to set your goals. Now if you know anything about computer basics you know binary means 1’s and 0’s, on or off,  TRUE or FALSE, those are the only two states that a PC knows about, and its that LAST set of values that’s killing us. By using binary goal setting you either REACH your goal, WOO HOO HAPPY HAPPY JOY, JOY! Or you do NOT reach your goal, in which case you are going to feel bad about telling your accountability partner about them. Now I am ALL ABOUT accountability partners, I teach the concept and I believe in the idea, and in the write scenario you will not find a better person to be around.

But think about this, when you were little your mom said, “Don’t touch the stove, or you’ll burn yourself.” What did you do? Well if you were a little boy, like I was, you waited until she left and immediately grabbed the stove. Assuming you ended up with less than 3rd degree burns you almost immediately registered in your mind, “OK, I’m not going to EVER do that again.” By the way, my wife has explained that most women don’t actually require such physical proof, this reinforcing the idea that women are naturally better equipped to work in the kitchen than men. So you are NO longer 5 years old, but you have ingrained in you, from an early age, wither with the stove or some other ‘training event’ the idea that ‘failure feels bad’, add to that the idea that your accountability partner is someone that you greatly respect and admire, and you may be able to see where this is heading.

When you sat down to develop your goals, and remember no wimpy goals, you may have set something like: (let’s pick weight loss)

Short Term: Wake up every morning and do 20 pushups 20 sit-ups and run 5    miles

Mid Term: Lose 30 lbs in the next 6 months.

Long Term: Run in the NY Marathon next year.

Before I continue I will say that those are NOT unattainable goals, I know folks who have done just that, however if you’re short fuzzy and out of shape, are ANY of those goals REALISTIC? I can hear the speaker now, “Realistic has NOTHING to do with it, your goals should be unrealistic you will have to STRETCH to reach them.” I agree stretching is good, but you should give yourself some chance of reaching them.

So instead I say we should choose “infinite goal setting.” What is Infinite Goal Setting you may ask?” It is the ability to set goals with a potential of reaching some of them so that when you RESET them next time, after all if you DON’T reach a goal what SHOULD you do? Reset it. Going by the Stove Burn however, the first time you have to go to YOUR mentor and tell him, “Wow Phil I didn’t hit the goal, I made some calls and only reached 5 people.” Then the next question, “How many calls? Umm er ahh, well, 6.” You NOW feel so small and so insignificant in that person’s eye that you swear “I’m not going to do THAT again!” So no matter HOW important your goals may have been, you will never have the chance to reach them, because you won’t ever want to experience missing them ever again!

With IGS it’s much easier, and you math geeks like me should enjoy this, you set 3 goals, one infinitely small, one average, and one infinitely large! Going back to our weight loss example, what REALLY is the goal? Is it to exercise more? Lose weight or run in a marathon? Well if I were a betting man, I would say, based on the name of the goal, that what you’re REALLY trying to do is lose some weight. 30lbs in 6 months in 60 lbs in a year and that’s an AMAZING goal. If, like me, you have gained or stayed the same weight for the last 3 years, 60lbs looks HUGE, but let’s look at it through the lens of IGS:

Infinitely SMALL: Wake up 15 minutes early and do 5 push ups

Average Goal: IS Goal PLUS eat ¾ your normal breakfast

Infinitely LARGE: Average Goal PLUS runs 2 Blocks when you get home.

Now I’m sure you’re saying a few things to yourself as you look at these goals, the first of which is that they seem awfully wimpy, next probably something line,”A goal without a date is merely a dream!” You would almost be right. But what’s our ACTUAL goal here? TO LOSE WEIGHT, and if you have been completely unable to do that for the last THREE YEARS, how dare you burden yourself with such a massive idea TODAY. But lets say you set your alarm for 30 minutes early, you got UP 15 minutes early, you did your 5 push ups, but then went ahead and ate your regular breakfast. “Worse”, or so you think, you got home and tried to run 2 blocks, you got as far as the mailbox and got a cramp! NOW WHAT!

Now, you call your accountability partner and whoop it up that’s what! You ANNHIALATED your INFINATELY SMALL Goal, and you accomplished a portion of your Infinitely Large Goal! You are AMAZING! If your accountability partner is not telling you this, than get a new partner! Because you should be very proud of yourself! Now its time (yes, now, right now, while you are whooping it up!) to set your NEXT set of Infinite Goals. You can’t keep repeating the ones you had, that’s boring. So for tomorrow you have:

Infinitely SMALL: Wake up 15 minutes early and do 6 push ups, 2 sit-ups

Average Goal: IS Goal PLUS eat ¾ your normal breakfast

Infinitely LARGE: Average Goal PLUS run 1 Block when you get home.

Now I know your saying, wait, I scaled up one goal, but scaled BACK one and stayed the same on one. You’re not paying attention! Remember these are ADDITIVE (got to LOVE math); you scaled UP 2 goals and adjusted the 3rd. So day 2 you set your alarm for 30 minutes early, get up 15 minutes early (am I the only one who does this?) perform 6 push ups 2 sloppy sit ups. You then go and eat your normal breakfast, but when you get home, you run TWO mail boxes, before you get that cramp. Are you seeing some progress? Because once again both you and your accountability partner should be celebrating, and before you finish you should be setting those goals for tomorrow!

At some point, the thought will have entered your mind, “Exactly how LONG do I have to work this way?” Well there are several ideas along this path, one, which I’m sure you have heard goes, and “It takes 21 days to create a habit.” This may have been tested in laboratories the world over and found to be true in almost 100% of the cases. I however like to find things that work in the real world for 100% of the cases. So let’s say that there are TWO answers, the FIRST is that we will say, “It takes 52 days to acquire a new habit.” Why 52 days you ask? Well let’s say it will take you THIRTY days to BREAK the old habit, one day to recover from THAT and 21 days to set the new habit, you now have 52 days.

However, were going to do something at the end of the first WEEK that you are 100% compliant. On THAT day, you get to set some Infinity plus ONE goals, these goals are a little more like what your used to, however, instead of just pulling them out of thin air, like you used to, your going to be able to create them based up some solid past performance and your own evidence. You will do this while factoring in 2 other things, the first is how you define a week of compliance and the next is using our definition of the time it takes to effect a habit change.

For value one, what’s a full week of compliance, let’s define this as the first time you achieve one or more of your infinity goals every day for 6 days, after all God rested the 7th day, so should you. So if you begin your journey on Monday morning, as many folks do, then the first time you achieve your goals Monday through Friday and Saturday (or Sunday depending on your calendar). So let’s say it takes two cycles to do that, that’s two weeks to you non math folks. By now you should be getting up at least 15 minutes early, or more, every day, performing some light exercise and running several mailboxes and back, each night. That is amazing, even if you haven’t completely conquered those eating habits we will!

As you and your accountability partner are celebrating that second Saturday you will now start your Infinity +1 planning, you know how to set you Infinitely Small, Average and Infinitely Large goals, now lets get to your Infinity +1. Your Infinity +1 starts to define not only what your actual goal is, but when you can expect to reach it.

So the end goal is you want to lose weight, how much? Well again, we will use my situation as an example and say 60lbs. I’m lucky, my wife is a cardiac nurse and experience as shown, along with medical research, that losing 1.5 and 2 pounds a week is a safe bet. Our +1 goal is 60 pounds, giving some flex time for holidays; let’s say one year, 12 months or 52 successful weeks. Because everyone starts in January, we will be a little different and begin in February. So your +1 goal is to lose 60lbs by 2/28/2013, your intermediate goal is to lose 30 pounds by 8/31/2012 and your short term goal is your Infinite goals + portion size management.

So starting today, January 23, 2012 you will be continuing you Infinite goals, you will just be setting them slightly farther apart, because you now have your plus one goals to work on as well. By that Monday you will have had three weeks of IGS so it’s only right that they be reflected in your new goals:

Infinitely Small: Wake up 30 minutes early Drink ½ liter of water 10 Push ups,                                                10 Sit ups and 10 leg Lifts

Average: IS + Decrease your Breakfast by 20%

Infinitely Large: Average +, decrease Lunch by 10% and Running 2 Blocks after  work

Are you starting to see how this works? Now the ONE change you will be making with your Whooping it up with your accountability partner is that you will be weighing yourself at the same time. Notice that your weight LOSS is not part of your IGS, yet, but you will start MEASURING it your weight. Why? Because whether it is your Return On Investment for your Marketing Campaign at work (bet you were wondering how this would tie back to business) or your weight loss, if you can not, or have not been measuring your progress, you are throwing money (effort) in the street. NO ONE wants to do that!

“But J, when do we start aiming for our weight loss goal?” Truth to tell you’ve been aiming there all the time, but you just didn’t know it, however your Plus One goals and your IGS goals can start to meld as soon as you have consistently reached your new IGS for 6 days in a row. What would that look like? How about something like this:

Infinitely Small: Wake up 30 minutes early Drink ½ liter of water 10 Push ups,  10 Sit ups and 10 leg Lifts and lose 1 pound this week

Average: IS + Decrease your Breakfast by 20% and lose an additional ½ pound

Infinitely Large: Average +, decrease Lunch by 10% and Running 2 Blocks after work and lose an additional pound.

Now you are markedly making progress the proper way, in the proper amount while setting yourself p for SUCCESS not failure. Sure looks easy doesn’t it? Well that’s because its all on paper at this point, the area it gets hard is when you start trying to defeat that one bad habit that is a monster in everyone’s closet, impatience. Because about your birthday, when you look at that awesome cake that the office bought for you, and you naturally want the BIGGEST piece cut, you start to feel slightly frustrated that you haven’t lost more weight to make it show so that its easier to say NO!

Now, PLEASE do NOT think that this is all I have to say on the subject. HOWEVER it is the best introduction I could give you to my goals program w/o having to spend an entire day with you. We WILL be going farther into the subject!

That comes with a whole NEW set of goals, and we will work on THOSE another time.

but remember if you’re GOING to pick and excuse, pick a GOOD one, you will probably have to live with it for a very LONG time!