When you embrace the Excelerated Life™, focus comes before goal setting. Without focus, your goals may not reflect your true desires. With focus, you have clarity on what you want and, importantly, why you want it.TheExceleratedLife.com
I have a BIG — Bold, Important, Gratifying — goal. I want to have a blog that rates in the top 10% of blogs in the category of self-development. That is a huge goal and one that will take many, many, many steps. It’s my 5 – 10 year goal.
But I have a plan. In fact, as I recently realized, I have at least a dozen plans. And even though they have the same end, the directions in which they go are all over the map.
I became aware of this fact recently when I reviewed my efforts to get a feel for my progress. There was little or none. I was doing many different things, taking step after step, but making no headway.
So I stopped. I used the WOOP model to identify the next few steps I can take right now. At this point, I don’t even know all the steps that my goal will require, but I do know what my next step is. And once I do that, I’ll know what the next one is. By stopping to focus, I was able to regain control and to stop diluting my efforts by trying to do too many things at once. I suspect — knowing me — this is an exercise I’ll need to do again and again before I reach my destination. Can you relate?
In the Excelerated Life™ model, the principle of Goals and Goal Setting contains 3 practices: 1) Excelerated Focus™ — aligning your actions with your true desires; 2) Excelerated Accomplishment™ — achieving meaningful objectives; and 3) Excelerated Goal Setting™ — planning and achieving BIG goals.
Excelerated Focus is the first step for a reason. Focus brings clarity about those targets that are bold, important, and gratifying. And Focus helps you identify why you want the goal — enabling you to select goals that align with your purpose.
If you realize you are doing many things but making little progress, make the effort to focus on the ONE thing that can make the biggest difference for you right now. This gets you headed in that direction and keeps you from spinning your wheels, gaining no traction.
Following The Followers
Without focus, we are apt to adopt society’s measures of success and set our sights – and our goals – on having more – more money, fame, and power. But as we’ve discussed before, these “extrinsic goals” frequently do not bring the satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment that we expected.
When we select goals based on what others think are desirable, we play, not follow the leader but, as Earl Nightingale has said, “follow the follower.” [Nightingale]
If we don’t have focus, we buy into the idea that success is chasing after what society tells us is important. But when we start to focus on our own desires, we stop and ask, “Are the people to whom I’m conforming qualified to lead me?” [Nightingale]
Why Focus Comes First
Focus brings clarity. Before you can select truly meaningful goals, you must decide what’s important to you. What do you want? What would bring meaning to your life? Focus helps you answer that.
Find Your Why
Focus also helps you zero in on why you want to attain a specific goal. In fact, the “why” is more important than the goal. And the right “why” can be the difference between reaching your goal or failing to make it.
Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH is a “behavioral sustainability (i.e. motivation) scientist” at the University of Michigan and author of the top-selling No Sweat! In the book, Dr. Segar writes about a research trial into the reasons people chose to exercise.
Dr. Segar and her research team found that about 75% of the people they studied listed “better health” or “to lose weight” as their reasons for exercising . . . their why. Segar calls these abstract reasons. They are outcomes to be experienced in the future. [Segar]
About 25% of the participants gave reasons such as “to improve the quality of their daily life”, “to feel better now”, “to be energized and to have a sense of well-being”. These are concrete reasons and ones that are experienced in the moment. [Segar]
The research team found that the 75% whose reasons were more abstract and future-oriented spent the least amount of time actually exercising. The 25% who listed concrete, immediate reasons for exercising spent on average 32% more time exercising. “Human beings,” Dr. Segar writes, “are hardwired to choose immediate gratification over long-term benefits.” [Segar]
A goal gives you direction, but it is more important to have a strong reason why you are working for the goal. [Ramos] Whatever your goal, let your focus be on concrete, immediate reasons for pursuing it. You’ll be more apt to do the steps you must follow to reach the goal.
Let Your “Why” Reflect Your Purpose
A purpose is “a simple, positive statement of why you are here”. [McWilliams] You might picture it this way. Purpose is a direction, like “West”. A goal is a destination, a place to reach. Your purpose can be used for selecting any number of destinations. [McWilliams] So if your purpose is “West”, and you’re in Greenville, you could go to Walhalla, Memphis, Los Angeles, Hawaii, or Australia. Any of those destinations would be “on purpose”.
Your purpose is in two forms: universal and unique. We all share the universal purpose of using our gifts, talents, strengths, and skills in service to the world. And the way you choose to be of service is your unique purpose based on your particular combination of gifts, talents, strengths, and skills.
As you are sharpening your focus by considering why you want your goal, be sure you are headed in the right “direction” by having your goal aligned with your purpose.
Aligning Goals, Focus, And Purpose
“Being in alignment is the ultimate in self-actualization.” ~ Jenn Stevens
In her blog post, “How To Get Into Alignment”, Jenn Stevens identifies five components to being in alignment: desire, thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Alignment, Jenn says, “is when your thoughts, feelings, words and actions are all aligned for one common goal.” [Stevens] (This is similar to the T-BEAR model where Thoughts influence Beliefs, Beliefs influence Emotions and Expectations, Emotions/Expectations influence Actions, and Actions influence Results.)
When you are in alignment, your Focus reinforces goal setting and Purpose reinforces Focus. Purpose gives you a focus for your actions. It enables you to accomplish more and to achieve more meaningful accomplishments.
Aligning Actions With Desires
Without focus, your goals may not reflect your true desires. You are liable to set goals based on what other people or society deem important; you could end up “following the followers” instead of being the leader in your own life. This is why focus comes before goal setting.
With focus, you have clarity on what you want and, importantly, why you want it. Your reasons can be concrete and immediate, making you even more likely to be successful in reaching your desire.
And focus leads you to start with Purpose, your Direction, from which you can align your desires, your thoughts, your beliefs, your feelings, and your actions to reach your desired result. That is the benefit of Excelerated Focus™. And that is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Focus™ — aligning your actions with your true desires — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being and a life of meaning, purpose and service.
McWilliams, Peter. Life 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life In School – But Didn’t. Allen Park, MI: Mary Books / Prelude Press, 1994
Nightingale, Earl. “Lead The Field.” PDFDrive. Asaha Inc., . Web. Date July 17, 2020. PDF file.
Ramos, Kaye. “How To Consistently Align Your Actions With What You Want In Life.” Mission.Org. Meduum.com, November 2, 2017. Web. July 13, 2020.
Segar, Ph.D., Michelle. No Sweat: How The Simple Science Of Motivation Can Bring You A Lifetime Of Fitness. New York: AMACOM, 2015
Stevens, Jenn. “How To Get Into Alignment.” The Aligned Life. The Aligned Life, . Web. July 13, 2020.