Make sure you understand the distinct difference between goals and priorities. Align your goals with your priorities and achieve the level of success you’ve always dreamed of.
With the timely pressure that we place upon ourselves in the New Year when declaring our resolutions and charting our goals, many people often fall short of attaining their goals or honoring these resolutions. Sure, there are many reasons why we may not reach our goals but before we point our finger at things like lack of execution, resources, skills or effective time management, we need to first look at the source of the problem; that is, the goal itself. In other words, are you sure you’re setting the right goals for yourself?
Sure, our goals are supposed to resemble and support that which we want to bring into in our life or career, yet many times, people set goals around what they think they want, what they think they need or what they think they should be doing.
Several years ago, I introduced the difference between priorities and goals and the importance of aligning the two when setting the right goals. Here is the full definition and an example to make sure that you’re setting the best goals for you.
Priorities vs. Goals – What’s the Difference?
Priorities: What is most important and meaningful in your life today (activities, values, beliefs, lifestyle, principles, standards, hobbies, integrity, etc.) that you are not willing to compromise or sacrifice in pursuit of something else (such as a goal).
Goals: A future based anticipated expectation, possibility, measurable end result or experience that you are working towards creating, achieving or bringing to fruition that has not yet been realized in the present.
- Present Focused vs. Future Focused
- What Is Happening vs. What Will/May Be
- In The Present vs. In The Future
John had a goal of being a top producer in his company. As such, he looked at the other top producers and the activities they engage in which make them successful. The top salespeople are working twelve hour days, sometimes even seven days a week. Thinking, “It worked for them, so I guess I should do that too,” he decided to give up a chunk of his family/personal time and other enjoyable activities/hobbies in his quest to become financially successful.
Although John’s priority was spending time with his family, he didn’t understand why he felt miserable and encountered resistance while attempting to achieve this goal.
Once he created a personal strategy and a routine for achieving his own bigger goals that supported his lifestyle and priorities without having to sacrifice what matters most to him, he was able to reach his goals with less effort and enjoyed the process even more.
The Key Point
If you are encountering resistance while attempting to reach certain goals or performing certain tasks, chances are it’s either something you really don’t want to be doing, an old goal that may not serve you anymore (a “should“) or you are operating from someone else’s agenda (also a should)! The bottom line is, these goals don’t support your priorities and you’ll continue to feel “off” or out of your integrity throughout your pursuit of these misaligned goals.
Take the time to align your goals with your priorities. Otherwise, you’ll feel confined or powerless to make changes, allowing situations, circumstances or other people to influence or control you. Discover what YOU truly want by aligning your goals with the priorities in your life rather than the “shoulds.”
The fact is, “Should-based goals” do not support your priorities or personal vision. So, if you are unsure whether the goal, activity or task classifies as a should, take a look at your lifestyle, values and priorities and see if they are all in alignment. If the goal doesn’t support them, it’s a “should.” So, don’t “Should” on yourself!
Benefit of Getting This Distinction
At the end of the day, your goals need to be aligned with your priorities. Honor the priorities in your life by making them non-negotiable.
Before you map out your goals, determine the priorities in your life that you’re not willing to sacrifice. This way, you can identify the activities you need to engage in and what you are willing to give up today (maybe even a conscious, short – term sacrifice of certain priorities) in pursuit of a bigger dream tomorrow.
When your goals are aligned and balanced with your priorities, natural strengths and talents, you’ll maintain your integrity, feel calmer and will experience greater peace of mind while traveling on your path to achieving bigger goals and meaningful, long lasting results. You’ll find the process of working towards these goals more enjoyable and fulfilling, without feeling as if you’re continually pushing for something to happen. Instead, you’ll be pulled towards your goal with less of an effort.
Once you can orient your life around your priorities, you’ll find that you will actually have fewer goals that you’ll feel compelled to attain or be driven and consumed by. If you design your life and career around what is most important to you on a daily basis, you’ll avoid becoming hooked or attached to creating something ‘better’ at a future point in time, which can rob you of the quality of your life today.
Photo Credit (Background): Marit Welker