When I joined the John Maxwell Team in 2014, I went on a reading frenzy devouring every one of John's books as fast as I could. Being a bit of a dreamer, I immediately loved his "Put Your Dreams To The Test".
In this specific book, John talks about how you know that the dream you are pursuing is in fact your dream, and not someone else's.
In today's Keys To An Achievable Outcome post, that is exactly what we will look at as it applies to our goals.
There are a number of simple, practical ways to test your dream and determine the ownership of the dream. A goal is no different. If your goal does not belong to you, then what will drive you to achieve it?
So for a goal to be truly achievable, we define two parameters. The goal must be initiated by you, and it must be maintained by you.
For a goal to be self-initiated does not mean that you need to come up with the idea yourself. Many successful people that had clear goals that were achieved, did not necessarily come up with the idea that led to the goal. But when it came down to taking action and setting the path to follow, they took ownership and defined the outcome and steps to take.
Our simple litmus test on our goal being Self Initiated is;
1. Did I define the desired outcome?
2. Am I setting the actionable steps to ensure completion?
3. Did I set all parameters?
4. Will I benefit from achieving the goal?
If you are able to answer yes to all of these, then you can be sure your goal is self-initiated.
Very often the success of any endeavour involving people rides on the buy-in. If you are starting a new project at work its success is often determined by the level of "buy-in" you get from those that have to support you. If people cannot believe in your idea, why would they support it with passion and dedication?
If you have to somehow "buy-into" a goal or be convinced it is a good goal, then you did not initiate it, and though you may start strong, there is a good chance you will lose interest pretty quick.
Have you ever set a goal and somewhere along the journey you were overcome by frustration caused by external factors? Someone did not do what they were supposed to and the goal was missed by a mile? We all have...
Let's say my goal for next year is that the Springboks win every championship they participate in. I guess I have a 50/50 chance of that happening. Because I want the goal to be congruent, I dress in Springbok gear all the time. I praise them for their victories and constantly boast that no one stood a chance.
The only problem with that goal is there is absolutely nothing I can do to influence and direct the outcome of the goal. Sitting on the couch at home watching matches on Saturday will not work no matter how loud I shout or insult the referee. Besides, I am way past my youthful rugby days so joining the team is not an option (not that it ever was...).
We must be the ultimate masters of our goals. The ability to direct and guide the actions - even if not our own - towards completion of the goal is what places us in the driving seat. Unless our goals always remain simple and small, it is inevitable that you will need input from other people to help you complete your goal.
As long as you are in control, there is nothing wrong with involving people to help you, provided you can still direct them in their effort to help achieve your goal.
Take a few minutes to look at your goal and test it to see if the goal is initiated by you and is maintained by you. If not, maybe you need to consider a new, owned and controlled goal for yourself?
A Biblical View
Throughout scripture, we read about God placing a calling on someone's heart. But God also gave commandments to his people and their leaders. If we consider looking at callings and commandments as the goals we then set, and what God has set for us, we are able to see the human factor in the execution of these.
Exodus 3:10 Now I am sending you to the king of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country.”
In the same chapter, we see Moses already looking for excuses as to why he should not be the one to lead God's people out of captivity. He believed he was not good enough (Exodus 3:11). He believed he would not be believed if he approached the Israelites (Exodus 3:13 and Exodus 4:1). He argued that he did not have the qualification, nor the ability to lead the people (Exodus 4:10 and 4:13). Moses' heart was not in this goal. Though he supported the outcome and possibly dreamed of it, it was not his, and he could see no way that he could influence the outcome (if only he had an early edition of the Bible :-) ).
In stark contrast, we have Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 1:4 When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah 1:11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!”
At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah, a simple cupbearer whose goals at the time likely included simply making it to the end of each tasting each glass of wine (the cupbearer had to taste-test the king's wine in case someone tried to poison him...), was so moved by the stories he heard of the walls of Jerusalem lying in ruins that he was moved into action. What he heard moved his soul.
Nehemiah truly owned his goal. He went before God in prayer, praying for Israel and asking God to bless his journey.
All of Nehemiah's actions are directed towards achieving that goal. Though he knew he could not do everything himself, he directed the steps of others, even those of the king, by requesting that he writes letters to grant him safe passage and to provide the resources he needed. He faced great opposition from Jerusalem's neighbours as well as the people inside the walls of the city (even though they would benefit from the walls being rebuilt). Yet he remained steadfast, knowing what had to be done, and simply said: "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down." (Nehemiah 6:3).
When you own your goal and have control of each step, nothing can deter you from achieving it.