At this time of year I love setting goals and encourage everyone I meet to do the same. Most every notable accomplishment I’ve experienced I can track back to having a clear goal. The books I’ve written, trips to places like Africa, selecting the cars I drive, having a Sanctuary on our property, developing a beautiful hosta garden, and learning Spanish all began as a written goal. However, I know that some of you just resist the process, believing that setting goals takes the spontaneity out of life. That you will never again be allowed to impulsively go to the movies, take a walk or enjoy the sunset. Actually, I expect the opposite results. I expect you to have more time to do those things – and more. And that has caused me to rethink my model for setting goals.
I have found that often the most fulfilled and “successful” people are the most spontaneous, have the most time for leisurely enjoyed lunches, and are not irritated at unexpected “interruptions.” I have also experienced that my most creative thinking often comes when I am on the treadmill first thing in the morning, driving along a detour, seeing one of my granddaughters walk into my office, or playing Quiddler with Joanne. Unbroken focus on the goals may lead a person to measurable “success” but may be a hindrance to finding real fulfillment. In fact, blind focus will likely cause us to miss God’s subtle and quiet voice in the rainbow or the unexpected chance encounter.
Here’s my new recommendation: Create a clear focus and plan for 85% of your time. Keep the 15% open for new hobbies, meditation, reading, or just interruptions. Instead of seeing these as hindrances, they may very well be the fertilizer for your ultimate success. This week Joanne and I will be in Chicago for our annual pre-Christmas jaunt. No plans, no phones, no computers, no necessary shopping; just free time with the love of my life. But now that I think about it, I had this clearly on my goals for 2013 and made the arrangements many months ago. Sounds like a worthy goal to me. It appears that unless I have the 85% in place, the 15% will never occur. Without clear goals, everything looks like a crisis and 100% of your time will be consumed.
Too many of us set goals by using the past as our starting point and merely adding 10% to what we’ve done before. Institutions do that all the time. But who wants to live like an institution? Decide now what you are going to STOP doing? That will free up the time for what is more important.
What great ideas have you discovered in the middle of an interruption?
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