This is a webinar I presented for the ACRL University Libraries Section Professional Development Committee.
The Set Big Goals, Get Big Results PPT.
Why Big Goals?
When it comes to goals, the general thinking is big, non-specific goals are pointless and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results Oriented, and Time Bound) goals are best. While SMART goals have an important part to play in goal attainment, without a larger direction they can just lead you in circles. Burning 10 calories in a thousand different directions will burn a lot of calories, but will take you nowhere. The same goes for SMART goals: you can achieve a plethora of them, but without any larger aim you risk never leaving the starting line.
Goals should not be about a discrete activity, but where you want to go in life and the direction you want your career to take. Goals are a journey. And just like any journey, arriving at the destination is great, but what you learn along the way, who you become on the journey, and enjoying the trip are far more important. We can only do this with big goals.
By setting big, great, huge, gigantic goals, you can challenge yourself, change your life for the better, do things you never thought you could do, experience things you never thought you would. develop important skills, and learn about yourself. These are big results.
So, if you want big results, then you have to set big goals.
How do you determine what big goals to work towards? You could take your career in hundreds of directions and your life in thousands. How do you narrow down these choices and find your true aim?
Better yet, how do you go achieve these goals? Choosing a direction to take your life is one thing, but planning for and working hard to achieve goals is quite another.
This is where the OPIE method comes into play: Options, Plan, Invest, and Enjoy. This is by no means the only way to choose and work towards goals, but it includes a lot of tried and true methods. As always, take what works for you and forget the rest.
Before you set about changing your life for the better, you need to prime the pump and put yourself in a state to create as many options as possible. Below are some activities that will get your brain in goal creation mode.
Grade the Areas of Your Life and Work
Examine the different areas of your life and work. For life, that could be physical, mental, emotional, and financial. For work, your areas might be professional responsibilities, research, and service. The areas you create are up to you. Give each area a rating of from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
What areas do you feel you are doing well? What areas could use improvement? For those areas that need improvement, think about why you want to improve them, not just what you can do to improve them. There are many “how’s” to reach your “what,” but it all flows from your “why.” With a strong enough why, you can achieve whatever goal you want.
What are your life values? Think about the values that guide your life and work. What are your life priorities? What are the things in your life and work that are most important to you?
Make one list of values and one of priorities. Do not stop to think, just write what comes into your head.
After you have made your lists, read through them and group like values together. What term would you use to describe that group of values?
Examine your over-arching values. What do they say about you? Do they lead in a particular direction? Are you happy with them? Do you need to cultivate new values and priorities?
Personal Characteristics and Traits
This step is similar to the one above, but instead of listing values you will list the personal characteristics, traits, and strengths that are your best and you most admire about yourself.
Do not be shy, modest, or reserved!
This is your list. No one else will read it, unless you choose to give it to someone else. Be honest with yourself and celebrate yourself. Feel free to list big achievements in there as well.
Again, do not think, just write. Once you are done, group like traits and strengths together. What do they say about you?
What kind of work do you like to do? A lot of people, surprisingly, do not know. They may be well aware of what they do not like to do, but not what they like to do.
Keep a journal of the work that you perform each day. Rate the work on a 1 – 5 scale and describe how that work made you feel (tired or energized) and how you felt doing that work (focused, scattered brain).
After a few weeks or a month, look over the journal and figure out what work you liked the best, made you feel the best, and what work allowed you to get in a flow state. This is the work you like the best and is a great place to start mining for your goals.
Mind mapping is a great way to explore the concepts of a particular value, trait, or work and discover what about it is important to you.
Start by writing a word in the middle of a page. The word could relate to your values, personal traits, or work you like to do.
Next, write down all around that term the words and phrases that relate to it. Once you are done, look over the map and find the three or four terms that really resonate with you and decide what they have in common. This can be a good way to start hone in our direction and priorities.
As an example, you might have mind mapped the value “student success.” The three terms that you found most important were research, using information, and creating knowledge. You then decide those three terms all fit under the concept of “information literacy.” Information literacy then is an important way for you to promote student success.
The above activities may take you a few days or even a few months, but once you have some big areas you want to explore for goals – like information literacy – then it is time for a brain dump.
List everything that comes to mind in those big areas you have identified as important to you. These can range from small projects of a few days to giant projects that can take years to complete.
In this step, it is very important not to limit yourself. Do not think, “I do not have the money for that. Or the skills to do this.” You can get grants and develop new skills. The important thing is to let it all out with no filters.
Using the above example of information literacy, you might write down “information literacy consultant,” “nationally recognized information literacy scholar,” and “develop a new framework for information literacy.”
As you look over this list of possible goals you just created, determine which are dreams and which are goals. A goal is something you are willing to work and work hard for. A dream is something that would be great if it happened, but you are not willing to work for it or put much time into making it happen. Dreams need to be crossed off the list.
You might look at what you wrote for information literacy and decide becoming an information literacy consultant is more of a dream than a goal. You are not willing to start your own business, and all the travel would mean too much time away from your family. So that gets crossed off the list.
From here, you can map out a five year plan for each of the remaining possible goals. What would it take for you to develop a new information literacy framework in five years? What would those milestones look like? What kind of work would be involved.
Take your time with this step. Come back to your plans to not only tweak them but think deeply about them. What looks appealing to you and why? What do you not like about the plans and why?
Now comes the moment of truth, select your big goals. You can select big goals for each area of your life or work, or you can make one overarching big goal and have goals and projects in each area that move you toward your uber-goal.
When you decide on a goal or goals, write it down and read it over. The goal or goals you chose should excite you a lot and scare you a little. That is how you know they are big goals! If you are not sufficiently excited or scared, then you may need to go back a few steps and develop an even bigger goal.
For this example, you decided after much deliberation, you want to be a nationally recognized information literacy scholar. That is a big goal!
Once you have selected your goal, you cannot waste time looking back because you are not going that way. Many people never move toward their goals because they are too busy wondering if they made the right choice and what might have happened if they choose another direction. All of that looking back is wasted energy. That is not to say you cannot alter or change your course if the one you chose is not working, but life is too short for regrets. Keep moving forward.
In order to achieve your big goal, you are going to need achieve a series of SMART goals. Yes, those are the same SMART goals I put down at the beginning of this post, but here is where they become valuable. To get to the top of this massive goal mountain, you will need specific, measurable steps with deadlines, and that is exactly what SMART goals are.
What steps will you need to complete in order to reach your big goal? To become a nationally recognized information literacy scholar, you could create a comprehensive, across the curriculum information literacy program on your campus, write a book, or a create and lead an information literacy symposium.
Break down each of those mini-goals into smaller, specific steps. Include every piece of work you would need to do and place them in a 1 – 5 year plan with a rough deadlines. From there just focus on the goals for the next year, and break them down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. Now you have taken a big goal, which seemed unmanageable, into small discrete steps that you can complete with ease.
Remember, most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can accomplish in 5 or 10 years.
And with that in mind, why not take on all three of those mini-goals above? Think about it. Creating the information literacy program would be the basis of your book, and the work on your book would inform the workshops you could lead at conferences that when taken together could be a symposium.
Now comes the time to do the work of achieving these goals. You may be thinking that you actually like to sleep so you have you no idea how or when you will get this work done. Being productive, however, is a lot easier than you think. I wrote several pieces about productivity and gave a webinar on the topic, all of which can be found here, so I will not go over it all again, but a few important points about being productive and working towards you goals.
Create good habits and routines. Motivation is fleeting. You would not count on a happy moment to keep you happy for weeks, so do not rely on motivation to keep the important work going. You need to create the right environment consisting of good habits and routines to get the work done.
Make to do lists consisting of your most important work. Get rid of work that does not lead you to your goals and work on your most important projects first thing in the day.
Get rid of and manage distractions. Facebook and Twitter can always wait, but the work that is important to you cannot.
Be a pro. Show up to work every day, not just when you feel like it. Go deep on your work instead of remaining shallow. Never quit and rid yourself of excuses.
Finally, enjoy the process. The work might be hard and at times frustrating and aggravating, but overall you should enjoy the process. You will never be able to achieve big goals doing work you do not like.
Keep track of your successes and what you could have done better. Celebrate the successes and the milestones, and make adjustments and improvements at every step.
We all like to achieve goals. It gives us a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment; but being too attached to the outcomes can have negative consequences. You can become so attached to achieving a goal that you lose track of why you are working towards it and what you are getting out of it. Effective goals. Great goals. Big goals are about who you become on your way to achieving those goals. If you never become a nationally recognized information literacy scholar but have a positive impact on your school’s curriculum and student learning and help other librarians do the same, then you succeeded mightily in your work.
Here are a list of some resources that may be of use to you as you set your big goals and get your big results.
- Should I Kill Myself or Have a Cup of Coffee?
- Jim Rohn: These Five Questions Will Define Where You Are Going in Life
- Holstee Manifesto
- The Cult of Done Manifesto
- Designing Your Life
- Jacked on the Beanstalk: Podcast #13–Goal Setting: This is a vegan fitness podcast, and the episode focuses on fitness goals but the information is applicable to all types of goals. The podcast does contain some sassy language.
- Jim Rohn Guide to Goal Setting
- Goal Setting Workbook from Living Well, Spending Less
- No Meat Athlete: 31 Action-Focused Days to Take Charge of Your Life
- James Clear: Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year
- Jeff Sanders: Podcast # 228 Box It In: How to Decide What to Do Next
- James Clear: The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Business