Am I on the right track? Foundational and Measurable Goals

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Society will tell us the importance of goal setting and goal accomplishing; however, sometimes we get lost in our goals. We get so busy trying to do our goals that we forget to put our head up to realize why we set out to accomplish in the first place. It is almost like a race where you are at the starters block and all you know is that you have to get from the start to the finish in the quickest amount of time. When that pistol fires, you are going to put your head down, run straight, fast and far until you have accomplished. Once you go towards the goal, you go!

Let’s stop for a second. Let’s take a moment to see if we are even on the right path. Are we even supposed to be in this race? Sometimes, we have been running on our goal for so long and have not looked up, we don’t realize that the race has changed or that we have changed our race but it was not the original race. Many will say that if you set a goal and you go for it, you are on the right track, just keep going.

Goals, as defined by the oxford dictionary, are the following (not including the kind that goes in the back of the net):
• The destination of a journey
• The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result
I like these two definitions because they outline exactly the two types of goals to consider and that we should keep in mind. One is a goal to a desired journey and the other is the effort required. I call one foundational and the other measurable. Foundational is where you set out on the journey to accomplish and is the bigger picture. The measurable is the quantitative side to help you keep things in mind and on target. Let me share an example to help differentiate them.

A few years back, I set out a goal (journey) to write a book. I put my thoughts together and started to write. Four years ago, I was not a writer or blogger but here I was, writing a book about personal storytelling. As I was writing, I thought to myself, “who is even going to read this?” “Am I even experienced enough to write a book?” Well, the journey said I wanted to write ‘a’ book. So after a couple of years, and lots of thoughts, revisions and edits, the book was released. Did I celebrate, well not really because while I was writing the book, people started to tell me: “you do realize that in Canada, if you sell 5,000 copies (measureable), you are a best seller.” “Sam, you do realize that you know so many people, this will just be a matter of months (measurable).” Based on these comments, my goal got clouded and the goal shifted now to being on the Canada’s best seller list (measurable).

When the book was finished, I pressed the button to send the final copy to the publisher and then told the world, it is done. I sat back waiting for the numbers of copies sold to pour in. I sat, waited and waited and waited. Wait, I told the world I was finished, right? In the first two weeks, I sold three copies. Are you kidding me, only three copies! I suddenly realized that this was not going to be that easy. To date, about 18 months after launch, I have sold or given away as promotions, about 600 copies. It is not 5,000! I did not accomplish my goal…or did I?

Originally, I was disappointed after launching the book because the sales were not happening. It took me a little while, but I looked up in my race suddenly and realized that I was now on the wrong track. I was so busy running from writing my book and the voices saying you can be on Canada’s best sellers list that I had moved into a race I was not supposed to be in. My goal was not to be a Canadian best selling author…no. My goal was to write a book and that I did do. I am sure many years from now, it is going to be a best selling book (I don’t use the word perhaps or maybe).

What is important to realize is that I had a foundational goal to write a book and a measurable one to sell 5,000 copies. In my case, the foundational one was the objective that I set out on (journey) and when I took a moment and realized the situation, I was already over the finish line and I then celebrated. Sure, I would like to sell 5,000 copies (measurable) and that is there, but I am glad that I separated my foundational and measurable goals because they are different. Ask yourself this: “What is my goal”, “am I still in my goal?” “Is it a foundational goal or a measurable goal?”…and don’t forget to look up every so often and appreciate what you are doing!

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