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By David Harder on December, 19, 2017

New Year’s Resolution? This is Why Goals Don’t Work!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day the year.”

           Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Happy New Years!


On December 31st at midnight, quite a few people are going to make resolutions – again. Many of us will know this when we go to our gym on January 2nd. All kinds of new members will be getting in the way of our machines. Most of them will be gone by March.


Why? What is the real difference between those of us who use goal programs and don’t attain meaningful success and those of us who do something that works?


I have very good credentials on the topic of goals. Before I launched Inspired Work, I was a staffing executive. For twelve years, I led annual, bi-annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly goal programs. My responsibilities also included corporate, regional, branch, and individual contributor goal programs. I served as a leader at two multi-national firms and one locally-based organization. Regardless of the setting, it turned out that 5-10% of our sales professionals generated 90% of the revenue. Surprisingly, our top producers rarely had time to discuss goals. They were closing deals, running to meetings, or taking a call they had been working on for months. The remaining salespeople always had carefully crafted goals and projections.


Something was askew.


Around the same time, Los Angeles Times ran a story on the Platinum Triangle, which is LA’s premier residential neighborhoods: Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Malibu. These areas were in the hottest market of all time. Buyers flew in from overseas to place bids on properties. Some homes went up in value upwards of 20% in a month. The Times story was all about the big players such as Jeff Hyland, Gail Wilson, Mike Glickman, Jon Douglas and Rick Hilton who were making fortunes. However, wedged in a little corner of the story, the average income for real estate agents was disclosed. What do you think it was? The average was $18,000.


Human beings have one biological difference with over other primates. We have a highly developed cerebral cortex that gives us the ability to create, envision, lie, tell stories, and believe anything we want to believe. Our cortex gives us the ability to make things up. What does this have to do with goals?


Goals are based on the future. The human mind has a tremendous track-record in adopting the idea that by committing to change in the future, it will actually happen. By being based in the future, most minds compromise. For example, I have lost 50 pounds so far this year. Up until now, I have engaged in many, many diets with that failed. In January, I was having a check-up with my beloved Internist when he said, “You know, there are not that many fat old people.” In that one statement, he moved me from being healthy in the future to becoming healthy right now. If I had said, “By the end of this year, I will lose 50 pounds,” I cannot even attempt to count the number of cookies I would have had consumed because I had six months to lose 50 pounds. I could have a cookie because we still had four months to go.


When it comes to real living, Americans are particularly impacted by creative thinking. The average American watches Television four-hours-a-day, is involved with his or her “device” eight-hours-a-day. We consume 31 pounds of corn syrup and 80% of the world’s legal and illegal drugs. The statistics indicate that we have real muscle in checking-out and indulging in creative thinking. You see, real creativity requires action and when we take action, we almost always take on some type of risk. The world famous psychologist Arieti once said, “The world’s mental institutions are filled with creative thinking.”


My behavior around food changed when I moved from some goal into the future to become keenly aware that I could die before my time. The big shift was moving the life I into the present rather than settling for some comforting notion in the future.


During the Inspired Work Program, I cannot count the number of professionals who walked in the door wanting to be more successful, make more money, and find one’s true purpose. I’ve watched the moment where they realize the life’s work and suddenly everything changes. Many live as if their hair is on fire. You see, there is a far more motivating place than simply adding to shareholder value or working in meaningless jobs. At Inspired Work, we help all of our and organizational clients recognize the difference between a goal and a commitment. Goals, which for many organizations are kind of a hope-filled opiate, ought to be thrown out the door. Because real breakthroughs require that we are 100% present and engaged. That cannot happen in the future.


As we approach the end-of-the-year, consider the fact that if your work isn’t giving you a compelling reason to be present, to live in the moment, that something is seriously off. Life is short. For most of us, work represents our biggest relationship. The best of our graduates don’t have time to write out 101 goals. If there are any Jim Rohn graduates out there, that one was for you.


For those of us who find our purpose, we become attached to the moment. We develop urgency. One of my readers asked for a phone call. She opened with the lovely statement, “You are so prolific. I find your articles and books. How do you do it?” I laughed and responded, “I’m in a hurry! Millions of people are underemployed, disengaged, unhappy with the work, and out of sync with change. In fact, many of them are role models to their children. I am in a hurry.” Mother Teresa didn’t engage in goals and projections. She had held dying children in her arms. One of the real surprises about her is that many people described her as terrifying. You didn’t say no to Mother Teresa. She would force a broom into your hand or order you to write a check. I don’t believe she ever gave herself the comforting luxury of a future.


This is the nature of full living. If we cannot find a way to be present, then perhaps it is time to define what could bring us into the present rather than embrace yet another six-month goal.


Our clients who launch successful new careers or businesses live in a state of urgency. Years ago, a young bank president showed up at one of our programs. Initially, he was going to get another job just like the one he kind of hated. There was a moment in those two days where his entire dynamic changed. He realized that his brilliance in marketing had made him a hot commodity in the banking world. But, he did not like the banking world. Like many sole breadwinners, he had trouble making enough room for his own truth. Now, he was not only going to take care of his family, he was also going to change his work life for good. So, he called his family and told them he would not be coming straight home. Instead, he drove up to their cabin where he worked on a business plan until it was finished. Five days later, he drove home and launched the business. He made more in that first year than in his best CEO position. A new client gave him a three-month project in Singapore. He was able to bring his family. So, while he worked, they traveled through Asia. Over the years, his business has grown and scaled into prominence.


This year, find something that is so worthy that you are willing to put your life on the line.


Find that one thing that will make the goals disappear and take a back seat.


Find something that is so exciting it consumes your energy and creativity and time. That commitment will propel you into a new life.


As for me? I’m lighter than ever!


Happy Holidays!


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.


(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)


To discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes, Here.