Friday, February 17, 2017

The Science of Goals - Part 2 - Why Failure is a Win

We began this 2-part series last week and today we finish up our conversation about the Science of Goals.  We know that not everyone sets goals, but even of those who do, most go about it in a self-defeating sort of way.  This series is about you understanding the science of goals and structuring and measuring your goals in a way that helps you gain confidence and grow.  So, if you're feeling disappointed or stuck, this post and last week's are for you.  Last week, we talked about setting up a "win-cycle" for your goals.  This week, let's talk about how we measure the success of our goals.  Initially, you may not believe this, but completing a "failing" % of your goals this year will actually be a BIG win for you.  Let's look at how this works.

This is a quick case study of my own goals from 2016.  When we were near the end of last year, I sat down and recorded what % of my goals I accomplished.  That year, I had six areas I was measuring goals in.  It's probably too many.  For 2017, I consolidated my goals to 3 areas.  However, for clarity, I listed the six main areas and what % I reached on those goals. You can see them below.  Overall, it doesn't look too impressive.  

2016 Goal Performance:
- Faith - 37%
- Health - 36%
- Family - 34%
- Finance - 7%
- Vision - 90%
- Work - 74%

If you average all these, I accomplished about 47% of my 2016 goals.  Sounds even worse, right?  But, allow yourself to think about this differently for a minute.  The reason we are all trained to think 47% is poor is because we filter it through our formalized education system.  We all spent years in school and we all know that 47% is an F - it's a failure!  So, we reason, completing 47% of my goals is also a failure. But, nothing could be further from the truth!

Here's why.  In school, you learn and test to meet a standard.  If you're a kid in 9th grade, there are 9th grade standards and you strive to meet 100% of the standards. I'm not saying that's a good system, but it is the system our culture uses.  When we fall below 100%, we're that far below the standard.  We say (roughly) 90-100% is excellent, 80-89% is good, 70-79% is average . . . you get the picture. In this system, 47% is way below the standard and given a failing grade.  

But goals are completely different than standardized education.  While standardized education says, "this is the standard and you must meet it", goal setting says, "here's where you are and here's where you could be."  Goals are not about meeting standards. Goals about improving and growing. 

So, let's talk about my abysmal 47% performance in 2016.  Can I tell you what my 2016 experience was?  It was, by far, the biggest year of growth I've ever seen.  Wait, what?  Only 47% of my goals accomplished and I saw huge growth?  How can this be? Remember the nature of goals.  Goals are about improving and growing, not meeting standards.  So, if you or I measure goals like we're in school meeting standards, we're going to fool ourselves into thinking we failed when we really won big!

Would it be great to accomplish 100% of your goals?  Sure.  But is it necessary?  No.  Even if you accomplish 10% of your goals, you've seen a 10% improvement in some area of your life.  Who would call that failure?  Not I.  Neither should you.  When it comes to goals, even "failure" is a win.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Leave a comment and start a conversation about it.

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