Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.”
– Alexander Woollcott
It’s still early in the year and time to set our bright and shiny new goals for the next twelve months, often with the grand title of “New Year’s Resolutions.”
Give me a break!
Aren’t we busy and stressed enough just trying to keep up with where and what we are without the added effort of trying to make our lives better? Why waste our time going after goals when we can put our feet up and watch new episodes of The Good Wife?
Besides, if we set goals, our lives might actually change – and who likes change? We’re all comfy cozy with our current problems and headaches. Why rock the boat?
However, you might be surrounded by obnoxiously chipper goal setters and goal getters harassing you to join them. Ugh!
To keep them off your back so you can join that happy 40% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions and fail within the first month, I’ve come up with some sure-fire tips:
The Slacker’s Guide to Goal Setting
Follow these pointers and you’ll never, ever have to worry about goals mucking up your perfect life!
Keep ’em vague.
The foggier your goals, the better. Take “I want the lifestyle of my dreams” as a goal. Excellent! Even if you had an army of brilliant minions, no one would ever know what the heck that goal means or how to fulfill it for you.
But if you make it simple and specific (like, “I want to work 4 days per week and make enough money to cover my current expenses”), your mind might actually get distracted from its normal stress and worry to come up with a positive plan to make that happen!
Make sure they aren’t quantifiable.
For example, “I’d like to lose some weight” is a perfect slacker’s goal! You can, sometime within the next year or two, lose just ½ pound and – Voila! – you’re totally off the hook. (Even better, nothing in that goal says you can’t gain it right back!)
On the flip side, if your goal is measurable (“I’ll lose ten pounds by July 1, 2015 and maintain that weight”), yikes! You’ll be very clear at all times if you’re getting closer to your goal or not. You might feel like you actually have to pay attention to the goal and take some action! Or if you’re getting close to it, you might actually feel proud of yourself and good about your accomplishment – which leads to the slippery slope of setting and attaining more goals!
Keep your goals in future tense. Do not set specific timelines.
You can’t fail to fail with this one! Think about “I will find the love of my life” or “I will write a novel.” Absolutely no pressure to actually do something, right? It has nothing to do with today. It’s later, and how can anyone ever say you’ve failed? If some busybody questions you, cut them off at the pass with “Someday, I will do it and someday hasn’t gotten here yet, has it?”
On the other hand, if you set specific deadlines or put your goal in the present tense, you’re likely to feel that uncomfortable urge to take action toward it. Your subconscious may even start generating great ideas to help you attain the goal knowing that you’ve set a deadline for it to meet.
Set goals that you don’t really care about.
Here’s an easy rule of thumb: If your goal is less important to you than your favorite TV show, it’s a perfect slacker’s goal! Not sure how to find a goal you don’t care about? Just ask your spouse or parents or boss what they think your goals should be.
The sad truth is that, the more important your goals are to you, the more likely you are to achieve them. Passion about a goal just gets us all energized and eager to make something happen. We no longer feel satisfied sticking with our old routines. We think out of the box and actually enjoy doing what it takes. Bummer!
Set goals that are impossible.
Some people claim that nothing is impossible but, of course, that’s simply not true. I mean, honestly, if you’re only 5’7″, could you ever hope to have a successful career playing in the NBA? (Well, okay, so Spud Webb did it. But still…) All you need to do is set a goal that you believe is impossible. If you’re one of those optimistic “possibility” types, just keep ratcheting up your goal until even Tony Robbins would cry “Uncle!”
A huge mistake newbie slackers make is to take a big, impossible goal and divide it into smaller, believable goals. Folks, those small goals become dangerous “gateway” goals. You’ll find yourself achieving them then moving to the next and the next until – oh no! – your impossible goal is within your reach!
Set ’em and forget ’em.
Write up your vague, impossible, uninspiring goals on a 3 X 5 card and throw them in a pile somewhere. Or better yet, don’t write them down at all! Don’t give those goals another thought, and certainly do not do anything about them.
Because if you read them aloud and visualize them each morning and each evening, and if you take even the tiniest steps forward on them, your mind may actually believe you really want these goals. You’ll start getting brilliant and unique ideas about how to attain your goals. Your body will feel energized. You might even find yourself missing Dancing With the Stars to pursue them!
Yes, of course, I’m just kidding. But if you take another look at this article, you’ll find many of the secrets that make the difference between goals that work and those that die on the vine! As Lily Tomlin warned us:
When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.”