A goal is a precise, measurable outcome that you wish to attain; it has a specific beginning, middle and end. Goals have deadlines. That is one of the main distinctions between a goal and a purpose. Deadlines are important because when we don’t commit to a deadline, we tend to procrastinate.
What would happen if Christmas Day wasn’t on a calendar? What would happen if you were told to just have Christmas every year when you could fit it in your schedule? Can you image how messed up the holidays would be? Instead, a wonderful holiday happens every year because December 25 is a firm deadline on the calendar. You should do the same with your goals.
Finally, the object is not to go to your goals, but rather for your goals to take you to your dreams or purpose. A purpose is less specific. It may have intangible aspects to it and therefore is not always as easy to measure. It can be an ongoing and unfolding intention or desire. It will almost always encompass specific goals, but a purpose in and of itself has no end. It continues unless you modify it or decide to change it completely. The biggest indicator of a purpose is that it is tied to the service of others. If it does not serve others, then it is not actually a purpose and is simply a goal.
I think goal setting has gotten so much hoopla over the years that a lot of people no longer take it seriously. I think the main reason for this is most people don’t really understand what they’re doing when they set goals. As a result, they don’t think goal setting is important.
If you simply think of setting goals (destinations) as programming your GPS, you may have a different perspective on the importance of goal setting as a practice in your life.
For instance, if you had to figure out how to navigate to a strange address in a big city, wouldn’t you program the GPS? Would you say, “Oh, I know what my goal is, I don’t need to write it down”? No way. The act of programming the destination is simple but critical to get the “universal GPS of your mind” to calculate your route.
You should view goal setting in much the same way. If you’re one of those people who never fill out worksheets or set goals, that may tell you something about why you haven’t reached some of your destinations by now. You haven’t arrived where you want to be or something in your life isn’t going as you’d like.
Surely, it can’t be as simple as writing things down, can it?
Well, I won’t say that it’s that simple, but I will say it is mandatory. If you program a destination into your GPS, you still have to pay attention in traffic and you still have to stop at red lights and turn left when it’s time. You still have to maintain your vehicle, change the oil and get regular tune-ups, etc. But the whole trip starts with programming the destination.
I like to think of it this way: you don’t set goals because of how your mind works; but it’s because of how your mind works that you set goals. Perhaps Zig Ziglar put it best when he said, “If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”