A Noticeable Trend in Goal Setting

Classes are off to a roaring start and graduation is quickly becoming a reality. My MBA capstone class is full of minds who have done their due diligence for two, three, even four years with their classwork and now are preparing for the big day.

After the regular “this is how I teach my class”, “read the syllabus”, etc. etc. the class took turns introducing themselves (nothing new there). We had to share one New Year’s goal and then our favorite song. To my amazement, many of the goals were not quite as lofty or epic as I was expecting, not that there isn’t anything wrong with that, but in the cream of the crop of a nationally ranked MBA program I expected a bit more. Also, I was relatively disappointed in their taste in music :P

The trend that I noticed for goals was divided into three categories:

  • People are incredibly vague
  • People don’t take risks in setting their goals
  • People are incredibly specific and very risky in their goal setting

Probably the most common goal for the year was “get in shape,” “be more healthy,” or “lose weight.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those except A) they don’t give people a lot of room to celebrate their success and B) those are the most stereotypical, non challenging goals ever created by mankind. Everyone knows vague, crappy New Years resolutions are 99% guaranteed to fail unless you have specific goals and a strong support system. That seemed to be missing…

The second category of goals was based around nonthreatening goals or activities such as finding a job so they’re no longer be unemployed, spending less time at work, or things that are practically set in stone such as graduation. Again, there is nothing wrong with any of these, but I found it disappointing that people aren’t shooting for the stars and really pushing themselves forward. I definitely appreciate the need to be employed and happy at work, but should that really be a huge change for the year? I would hope that people can find a way to make that a constant goal in life not just for 2013. Where are the earth-shattering adventures? Very few people had their sights set on running a Fortune 500 company or creating a new multimillion dollar product line.

mouse_with_helmetThe last category contained very few people but the few that had goals in this area were clearly a cut above the rest. One has a one week year old baby, another is trying to complete their first half marathon, and yet others are striving to move across the country, start their own businesses, etc. One particular guy completed his first triathlon last year and finished 4th from last but now he has his sights set on the top 50%. That goal is specific, challenging, and full of (calculated) risk. That’s the way to do it! All of these people will also be able to reward their successes as they progress throughout the year too, and celebration is important!

I’m excited for the year, excited for my goals (I think I’ve got some darn good ones), and excited to see what kind of spontaneous shenanigans come out of the year. Also, my favorite song is Thunderstruck by ACDC!

How are you pushing yourself forward with goals in 2013?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.


  1. Very interesting. I had a similar experience at a Miche “Leadership” Retreat recently. I went expecting to be with like minded people. A day into it, I was overwhelmed by the realization that I couldn’t relate to my fellow Directors, nor they to me! I mean, so few of them had even earned the incentive trip!! REALLY?? I would’ve expected most of them to have achieved that, as a “leader”. At 47 years old, I’m realizing I dance to my own music….and am okay with it. And you KNOW, Russell that I listen to GOOOOD music!! :). Pour some sugar on meh…

    1. Yeah, it’s totally depressing isn’t it?! Brings real meaning to “average” and “normal.” This incentive trip that you mention.. can you bring friends? :P Haha, it’s so true. You do have very good taste in music. Def Leppard all the way!

  2. If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

    Gtdagenda. com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  3. Goal setting is important, but not stressed to people enough. It feels to me that most people would like to have someone else set their goals, that way they have someone to blame besides themselves for failure.
    I personally set goals that are reasonable and achievable with the time I know I have, where my wife likes to set pie in the sky type goals, but then become frustrated when she doesn’t consistently achieve them.
    Moving a pebble each day will move a mountain in time. You can’t just push the mountain and expect it to move.

    But I like your exercise there and want to participate.
    1. Finish a Half Ironman in under 6 hours.
    2. Finish a sprint in the top 3rd
    3. Learn to taper properly

    I can’t give you a favorite song though. That is too much to ask in a world full of great music.

    1. Absolutely! It would be so much easier to blame others for my failures, and then I could say that the goal bar was set too high. Those are some solid goals! Do you have any races selected yet? And I can forgive on not having a favorite song :P

      1. Jun 31: Lubbock/Buffalo Springs 70.3
        Sep 29: Kerrville 70.3
        are the big ones for the year.
        But I do want to crush some of my old sprint times, so I cant count them out. Race 1 of the year is a silly little thing at Lifetime Fitness. They do an indoor tri for newbies. I had so much fun with it in the past I have to do it each time. That is the end of Feb.
        What about you? Whats your A race of the year going to be?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s