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Moving Goals Forward

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Are your goals stalled? Are you determined to get all your projects defined and prioritized? Do you want a shove?

Well, this isn’t it. I’m in the same boat as all of you. I am a productivity, motivation, time-management, fast-charging, organized wannabe junkie. Surprised? Probably not.

I have been all of these things at different times in my life, for specific periods. But like most people, I sometimes have a hard time tieing it all together.


Goals are just vague wishes if they are not written down and clarified. I’ve written on this subject for years on Business Unusual and Motivation on the Run (both taken down). There are SMART goals and SMARTER goals. Guess what? It doesn’t matter what your goals are, as long as you have them.

SMART was the standard for decades. I first defined SMARTER goals back in March of 2006. Now, everyone has an acronym for SMARTER. Most are revisions of earlier editions with a few minor updates.

Here are mine.

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Realistic

T = Time based

E = Enthusiasm

R = Reward

SMARTER Goals … Spread it Around

Listening to a recent podcast by Joanna Penn, Tara McMullins said a few things that got me thinking.

I see goals and process as being two sides of the same coin. You can’t have goals without process, and process without goals is just busy work, right? And that’s one of the reasons we resist process so much is that it’s not connected to goals that we care about.

One thing I’ve learned from the brilliant Natasha Vorompiova, who is a systems wizard, is that systems are not created, they are recognized and documented.

Stop and go back and read that again. Slowly. What is your take on those statements? Could the difficult task of accomplishing goals come down to recognizing, documenting, and implementing better processes?


As is said many times, productivity is not getting a lot of stuff done; it is getting the right things done. I can’t tell you how often I look up at the end of the day and see that I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done, but didn’t push a single goal forward. I’ll bet you’ve experienced the same issue.

It is frustrating but inevitable. It will happen no matter your to-do list, your goal list, or what program or notebook you use. It will happen.

So what. Do you quit and give up. Of course not. Life happens over and over again. We can’t stop it from diverting our attention regularly, but eventually, we must get back on track.

Go back, look at our goals, make sure we have projects defined for each goal and next action. If not, how are you supposed to know how to push your life forward?


What is motivation? It is tough to define and even harder to come by. Motivation comes from the inside. I’ve received some negative feedback on this, but I can not give you motivation. ONLY you can motivate yourself.

I can encourage you. I can offer to brainstorm ideas, goals, or projects, but that is not motivation.

I can threaten you if I have that power over you, but that is not motivation.

I can offer you incentives, but that is not motivation.

Only you can be motivated. Only you can stop procrastination. Only you can decide to push forward with a project or goal to the conclusion.


How much controversy can we cause around this topic? People often cite truisms about time management.

Time is finite and can’t be managed.

We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day.

Time is a master that can’t free you from its bonds.


Of course, how you manage your time does affect what you get done in the course of your life. But sometimes, time is not yours. It belongs to your house, your spouse, your kids, your boss, your job. Owning a home requires a lot of time. If you doubt it, ask a homeowner. Spouses and children can demand a lot of your time. Your job and boss (if you have one) take up about a third of your life for over fifty years. Think about that one.

In defense of spouse and kids, they should be your number one goal anyway. But it is time spent. Do you ignore them in search of productivity at work? Do you trade the time for your kid’s ballgame for another meeting?

I’m don’t want to preach here, but these are decisions we make every day.

Then one day you wake up and time has slipped by, and you have to take stock of where you are.


OrganizedMy favorite part of this is the organization. Without it, none of the others have a shot. But how do you get organized? Is it something we do? Maybe something we decide or think about? Is it a tool or piece of software?

Maybe it’s writing each thing on a separate 3″x 5″ card and spending the afternoon arranging and rearranging them over and over again. 

Or it could be all of these things.

Merriman-Webster defines it this way.

1. to form into a coherent unity or functioning whole
2a: to set up an administrative structure
b: to persuade to associate in an organization
3: to arrange by systematic planning and united effort
4: to cause to develop an organic structure
Well, that certainly clears it up.
Here is how I define organizing.
To get clear on who you are, what you want, and what do you want to be? This begins the journey of organizing. Then determine how to get to that place.

Who You Are?

Who are you? What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Are you a doer or a procrastinator? Exactly, who are you?

I believe it is challenging to make plans and get them organized if you aren’t aware of who you are and your personality. It doesn’t matter what those answers are, but only you can determine how to move forward to get what you want. Once that is done, you can begin to organize or get things in order.

What Do You Want?

What do you want is the hardest question for me to answer. What do I want? There are so many and so few. There are physical and spiritual. There are easy things to acquire and tricky items to desire. 

Matthew 6 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth …” How strict or legalistic do you want to be with this verse? It can affect what you want in a way that is different than a what you desire list.

Those questions lead directly to the last question.

Who Do You Want to Be?

Who do you want to be? Think about that in a completed life context. This question is for long-term. 

What do you want people to say at your funeral type long-term thinking? Of course, we have to think about next month, next year, and the next few years, but what about the end? 

I’m not sure I fully comprehend the magnitude of this question, but I struggle with it and think about it.

Introspection is not my strong suit. In fact, it is not something I even like to discuss, so I won’t. But think about it. How can you organize your life if you don’t know who you are, what you want, and who you want to become?

Let’s Finish This

 When you think about it, this is some serious stuff. Deciding on your life goals, building processing, and to do lists from these to get them done. It requires motivation and time-management, but more importantly, organization.

What do you think? Am I off? Am I strange in my thinking?

You tell me.