I despise goals. Even though it seems to be the key factor in any “Be Successful!” book or lecture, no matter the topic. A slick public speaker will convince you goals are necessary. Vague yet inspirational quotes will be used against you. Then when a quote is utilized, it’s only to prod you to do the next thing: make goals. But I don’t wanna. I’ll admit this is a preference and some people are inspired and motivated by them.

To me they are far-fetched. Depending on the range, it’s either unrealistic or narrow-minded. I hate the overall concept. Questions like “Where do see yourself in ten years?” Ugh. Nevermind the fact that in any previous ten-year increment, I would have guessed wrong.

(That’s cause you didn’t have goals!)

Touché. But I like where I ended up, so maybe goals would’ve been worse!  D’you ever think about that?

It’s all a speculation to a degree. Seven years ago there’s no way my wife and I would’ve said a second baby is in the future. But here he is. Quite real and 100% without regret or goals. I could have never plotted on a map what my ten years at NASBA would look like. A year or so into my first entry level position, I was determined to end up in Communications or Marketing. Why wouldn’t it? My degree is in Marketing. That’s what they told me would happen in college.

Speaking of college: I had the same anti-goal attitude then. It was half-way through my junior year when my Adviser forced me to make a decision on a major. I enjoyed all kinds of topics and classes. Had any course, professor, or grade been different I might have ended up in Bible, Psychology, Music, Accounting, or Computer Science. My lame (passive, pleaser, indecisive) way of choosing was that Marketing seemed to incorporate any or all of the other topics, depending on how you swing it, so that was it. I will be an Accounting-minded Internet Marketer for the Psychology of Biblical Music. Perfect. Now to make a list of goals to get there.

Well…. not before we up and move to Florida to live on the beach for a while! My real-life proverbial slap in the face at Goals. It ended up being the “best… decision… ever” (quoting my wife just now).

BUT… while I’m realistic enough to know that I can’t just make the impossible happen because of goals, I also can’t sit on the beach and wait for blessings to fall from the sky and land in my lap. I’ve considered this dilemma in regards to wanting to do public speaking. It’s something I’m curious about, but don’t necessarily want to jump all in right now and make that goal happen! So what if I eased into it intentionally on a regular basis? Similar to my mantra about Christian living: you may have a goal to love God and love others, but it means nothing if you don’t actually do it on a day to day basis.

I think of what Dave Ramsey is known most for, the Baby Steps. You could call those goals, but actually the goal is getting out of debt, the baby steps along the way are what gets you there. In the case of Public Speaking, I’m OK if that goal ends up looking different in the end. I fully expect the future to not look like what I could imagine in the present. What I should do is be intentional now.  What is something I can do today? Anything. As long as it’s something.

My current baby steps:

  • My first thought went to my two least favorite hours each day: traffic to and from work. So I started downloading relevant podcasts, lectures, and speeches (just as soon as I’m done with Serial) for my otherwise wasted time.
  • Another actionable task was just to discover what I have to talk about, and ended up being the genesis of this blog.
  • I’m purposefully spending less time on Facebook and more following specific people/brands on Twitter.
  • I’ve put together a list of potential places to speak (Toastmasters, Chamber, Church, Youth Organizations) and have a few lined up.
  • I tried to think any connections I have to professional speakers, reached out to one, and have a meeting pending.

Not goals, but steps. Maybe I’m mincing words here, but it’s obvious to me that I’ve done more in this month than I have in years of simply having theoretical goals. Whatever happens, it will be because I took steps to get there or my direction intentionally veered as I was taking those steps. But either way I won’t be disappointed, at least not because my “goals” weren’t met, weren’t correct, or weren’t attainable. Inaction, laziness, or preoccupation will not be an excuse. I will have taken steps to get there. And in a way, it’s exciting to not know exactly what there is.

One thought on “Steps, not goals

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