We’re always being told that it’s a good idea to have goals.
“Make them S.M.A.R.T.!”
“Write them down!”
“Stick them all over your house…”.
It seems that anyone that has ever amounted to anything, set goals to get there.
There are lots of reasons why you should set goals. I think the main two for me are:
- It shows that YOU are the one taking control of your life.
- It keeps reminding you to stay on the right path.
I’d like to talk about having small goals.
Small goals are important. Sure, we all have (and should have) the big fat hairy audacious goal of being a millionaire, buying 15 houses, 27 sports cars and being able to go to the loo in peace, without the kids screaming and banging at the door. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
The little goals however, are the ones that get you that FIRST sports car, that first payment on the house or getting into night school so you can learn a new skill.
Psychologists will give you lots of reasons why it’s important to set yourself small, manageable goals in life – they recognise the importance of small “wins”. Small wins keep you focused, get you primed for success and give you confidence, as you get into the habit of setting yourself, and then achieving, all these little goals. You set a precedent, and an expectation of success!
Not only should we have lots of little goals to keep us busy and keep us on track, but I think it’s also important to keep our goal muscle exercised in other ways. Other, fun, ways.
One way that I’ve recently discovered to do this is to set silly goals. They don’t have to be REALLY silly, just set a small goal that you can accomplish today, in the next few hours, regardless of whether or not it is relevant to your main aim in life. Being silly just makes it a bit more fun.
I’ll give you an example; a few weeks ago I was walking my dog. Right at the start of the walk, I spotted a golf ball in the grass and kicked it up the path. I did this for a few minutes and then a thought popped into my head: “I wonder if I could kick this ball round for the ENTIRE dog walk?”. After I had thought it, I couldn’t let it go. I just had to do it.
At this point, I feel the need to remind you that I am 39 years old.
I’m a grown man for crying out loud.
Anyway, once I had the idea, I then set about the rules, of which there were two:
- I could only use my foot. No picking up or shoving with the hand. If the ball landed somewhere “unkickable” (I’m pretty sure that I’ve just made up that word), the game was over.
- victory could only be mine when I kicked the ball back roughly where I had found it, meaning I had completed the loop.
Now, the dog walk I go on isn’t very long, about 1.5 miles, but it’s uphill on country paths with brambles, long grass and an occasional rabbit to contend with. This wasn’t going to be easy.
The hardest part was trying to pretend I was being casual when I passed other dog walkers. Like when you’re trying to chat up someone at the gym and you’re sweating like a racehorse, but you’re desperately trying to control your breathing (and crying), so that she thinks you’re super-fit and awesome, and that 10 minutes you did on the stair climber didn’t feel like you were conquering Everest.
Anyway, I did kick the ball round the entire dog walk, ending with a neat (almost Messi-esque) sidefooting of the ball to where I found it. I’d done it. I felt good. I hadn’t even had breakfast yet and I’d achieved a goal!
Had it brought me closer to my aims in life? Did it help my career, family or financial situation
No, but it was fun. I had picked a goal and succeeded, and that’s great to have in the memory banks.
Focusing on a silly goal allows you to come back to normality afterwards feeling fresh. And while your conscious mind may well be hating you for choosing to kick a golf ball round for half an hour, your subconscious is still hard at work, processing the “real” stuff, often leading you to some new insights!
So, regardless of what your aim in life is, have some fun and set yourself a little, weird, mini goal.
For example, will today be the day that you finally:
- Buy a new hat?
- Learn to juggle?
- Learn how to say “Hi, my name is John” in ten different languages?
- Finally accept that Facebook invite to play Candy Crush?
- Perform a random act of kindness for someone?
- Talk in a Russian accent all morning?
- Play your usual round of golf, but only using your putter to tee off with?
- Learn a simple card trick?
- Memorise all the words to “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer?
- Eat a new food?
- Ask yourself “what would Napoleon do?” to every situation that arises this morning?
- Write the words “you are awesome!” on 15 pieces of paper and leave them in places where people will find them?
- See if you can get every Abba song title into conversations during the day?
- Answer THAT email that’s been in your inbox since 1996?
- Write yourself a cheque for £1,000,000?
- Be able to recall Pi to 50 decimal places? (I’ll give you a start: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510)
- Eat 10 different types of cheese in one day?
- Kick a golf ball round an entire dog walk?
- Kick a dog round an entire round of golf?
- Set your alarm clock to 5:43am every day for a week?
- Book tickets to a play or band that you’ve never heard of?
- Find a course on Coursera that you’d really like to do?
- Don’t step on any pavement cracks for an entire day?
- Memorise how to spell “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”
- Write a blog post about coming up with silly ideas that don’t relate to your main goals in life, but have difficulty finding where to end it…?