4 Keys to Goal Setting
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men`s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.”
– Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect and city planner.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on all you’ve achieved and ways you’ve grown. If there are any important unmet goals, this may also be a good time to identify the next best steps to knocking them off. It may also be your chance to make “no little plans.”
Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. A goal without a deadline is just a wish
Very little is achieved in a timely or efficient way without deadlines. Marking something on a calendar is essential in driving us to prioritize, sequence, and map out the most effective path to our goals.
This applies to weekly or monthly calendars, just as it does to sweeping, long-range goals.
If you do not plan and execute while adhering to deadlines, your goals tend to float off, and feel out of reach or fade away altogether. They are simply then put into the sad drawer of dreams you once possessed.
2. Set goals that are way too high
The quote at the top of the article is often misattributed. However, it was Burnham who said it and it was in print in the Chicago Record Herald by late 1910. Here is the full passage to give it more depth, beauty, and context:
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men`s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”
His words ring just as true today, but we would of course add that our daughters and granddaughters will also do things that stagger us!
Ambitious plans and vision often have a way of becoming manifest in time, as if the dream is willed into existence. It is, however, a clever and careful blend of sustained effort, focus and luck that bring a dream or goal to life.
For instance, you can just look at this recent second wave of space exploration to see how big endeavors are carried aloft on updrafts of audacity, vision and planning.
It is primarily the result of a few emboldened entrepreneurs who reimagined space travel and realized it can be rebooted, rebranded and commercialized based on better technology and innovation.
3. Set specific numerical goals, not just abstract ideas
If you create attainable benchmarks, you’ll be able to chart your progress as you move closer towards your goals. It’s a great way to keep your head in the game and stay focused on the prize. Otherwise, you can too easily get lost in abstract thinking that may leave you feeling like you’re spinning your wheels and feeling stuck.
Even incremental movement forward is better than guessing as to where you’re at along a trajectory.
Charting your course is no different than navigating a ship. You must know where you’ve been and where you are to capably measure if you’ve got adequate resources stowed away in the hold, allowing you to reach your destination.
For instance, start with creating a budget for that next big purchase or dream trip. Decide what is the right amount to put aside each month in order to make it happen and hold yourself accountable to keep on track.
Once you see how beneficial this approach can be, it will become a template in some shape or form, for every major goal you can dream up.
4. The benefits of reverse engineering
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men`s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.” – Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect and city planner.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on all you’ve achieved and ways you’ve grown. If there are any important unmet goals, this may also be a good time to identify the next best steps toward knocking them off. It may also be your chance to make “no little plans.”
Here are a few ideas to consider:
5. Final thoughts
“Ah, but man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”, wrote Robert Browning, in his famous poem Andrea Del Sarto.
He puts forth the same message as Burnham, but in a more poetic and romantic fashion. It is often something gleaned over the course of decades. But the sooner you can embrace this philosophy, the sooner you can reach for things that may seem unattainable to you now. You may or may not obtain them, but the important thing is that you persevered and tried as hard as you could.
You just need a good plan and a place to land, and then you can leap from soaring heights and competently build your wings on the way down.
Lisa Ryan LPC
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