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Kennetic Expression

A lively take on creativity, business, and life.

What Does Setting A Goal Actually Do for You?

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This is something I've been thinking about more and more lately. I still don't know that I have a good answer to the question, but hear me out.

Anyone worth their salt in life and business will tell you that you've got to set goals for yourself. They chant, "You can't know where you're going until you decide where to go." Or, as I like to say, you have to choose which restaurant you're going to before you can eat.

What intrigues me, though, is that all of these people - probably myself, too - sound like they're regurgitating what they've heard. It's as if nobody really knows what's going on or what they're doing, but this thing about setting goals sounds pretty good, so we run with it.

This is frustrating. I'm looking to add value to others. I'm trying every day to improve my own abilities and life. But what I'm surrounded by - what we're all surrounded by - is a blasé one-liner that doesn't help us.

I view this as significant because I keep a lot of goals, and I always encourage others to do make goals for themselves as well. The question that has to be asked, then, is exactly what this post is titled. What does setting a goal actually do for you? With the right commitment, I think it does several things.

Setting a legitimate goal is making a statement that you're going to do something. You're going to take action. Saying that you're going to be a millionaire by thirty is not setting a goal. That's a biproduct.

Committing to working X hours on A, B, and C tasks is a goal. Becoming a millionaire by thirty is what will happen if you reach your goal of doing ABC day-in and day-out.

Setting a goal can also simply be a framework that you create for yourself. For instance, it's very rare that someone understands their life's purpose and what they're really good at doing. I certainly don't! Setting a goal can help you harness all of those overwhelming thoughts and indecision into something actionable.

You might not know what career is best for you, but you can make a goal to, say, meet with fifteen people in fifteen different industries to help you understand where you might fit well. You might not know the best use of your strengths, but you can make a goal to do XYZ to continue improving those strengths.

Setting a goal also does this. And it might be the most important thing that setting a goal can do for you. Setting a goal creates accountability.

It's not like you write down what you want to start doing every day, and then magically have an accountabilibuddy show up in your life. Officially setting a goal (writing it down, blogging about it, telling a friend, etc.) sets an expectation.

By setting an expectation for yourself, you create accountability. You've made a commitment to do XYZ, and now you also feel an outside pressure to fulfill that commitment.

I do think that setting goals is an important part of anyone's journey to success, however you choose to define it. It's true, too, that you have to set out intentionally. Otherwise, it's like you've decided to eat, but just walked out your front door without any idea of which restaurant to go to or what form of transportation to use.

What setting a goal actually does for you is this. It gives you the map and compass to know where you're going, and creates the expectation that you'll make it.