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150: What Are You Aiming At? – Friday Fundamentals

In Episode 148 we discussed success and the dichotomies that come along with it. Success is something many people strive for but don’t have defined. In order to achieve success, however you define it, you must know what it is you’re pursuing. Along the journey to your success, you’ll experience many dichotomies, and must be prepared to handle those. These are lessons extrapolated and inspired by Jocko Willink, former U.S. Navy Marine and combat veteran.

This episode will focus on goal setting, but with a twist. This is another lesson inspired by Jocko Willink and Leif Babbin in their book, The Dichotomy of Leadership. 

See, success and goal setting go together hand in hand. Rarely does one achieve success with out setting goals. And rarely does one set goals without defining success. Staring with the end in mind, it’s important to think about what you want your life to be like. Here are some questions that will help you determine that.

  1. Who is most important to you and how do you want to spend your time with them?
  2. What core values are important to you? I.e. – money, security, health, happiness,
  3. How do you want to spend your time, right down to the very day?
  4. Do you want to work and build an empire, retire early with a modest lifestyle?

These are all things to consider when building your lifestyle by design. By defining these things you can start to picture what success looks like to you, and how to get there.

Now that you know what success looks like for you, you can begin setting goals to achieve that success. There are 5 specific qualities your goal must have. Without these 5 qualities, a goal is just a dream and nothing more. Your goal must embody the acronym SMART.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Accountable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time

If your goal isn’t specific, then you can get side tracking in your journey. If you goal is to simply “be rich” or “retire early”, those are not specific. What does rich mean? Is it a net worth of one million dollars, ten million dollars, one hundred million dollars? Does retire early mean at 62 and live off social security? Or retire at 40 and surf in San Diego for half the year?

Your goal must be measurable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t track your progress. It must be concrete.

You must be held accountable to your goal. You can do this by telling others about your goal, and even having an accountability partner or mentor to keep you on track. If you are held accountable by reporting progress of your goal to someone else, you’re much more likely to achieve it.

Your goal should be realistic. This is one that trips many people up. People often over estimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in a decade. Just look at new years resolutions for example. While your goal should be attainable, it should also push your limits and force you to level up in order to achieve it.

lastly, your goal must me bound by time. You must achieve your goal within a certain time frame. Otherwise, it will just be a “some day” goal, which isn’t a goal, but rather a dream.

A SMART goal must be specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time bound.

If setting goals sounds like a waste of time to you, and you’re just going to go full steam ahead barreling towards success (that you likely don’t have defined) then you may want to rethink that strategy. Jocko Willink talks about a lesson he learned on the battlefield and how it relates to the real world. You see, Jocko was in command of a task unit, comprised of two platoons. He was leading his troops on high stakes mission in Ramadi, Iraq just like he had for hundreds of missions prior. He and his team were clearing a building, and they came across a scenario, which required direction from Jocko. They knew the layout of the building prior to breaching it, but as with anything in Ramadi, there was a surprise. There was a hallway to an unknown door. Jocko had to make a call. Breach the door with an explosive charge devastating everything on the other side or make forcible entry with less a less lethal option. Jocko, along with his team of Navy Seals, was staring down the barrel of his rifle, aim on the door. It was in this moment he realized that he could only see down this one line of sight, and wasn’t getting the full picture. He pointed his weapon to the ceiling, and looked around, scanning his surroundings. He assessed the situation and made the call to not breach the door with explosive charges, due to the unknown on the other side. After less fatally breaching the door with force, Jocko and his team found on the other side a family who would have been severely injured  had they breached with an explosive charge.

Jocko and his team had defined what a successful mission would be – no casualties to their men, or civilians. With their targets set, they set out to execute their mission. In the midst of the action, Jocko realized he could only see what he was aiming at, both literally and figuratively. Sure, he was aiming at the right thing, but what else around him had changed? The goal was the same, the the approach had changed. It took Jocko adjusting his aim, looking around, and assessing the situation to make the call and stay on the patch to executing the platoon’s goal.

So how does this relate to goal setting? Great question. See, just like Jocko and the Charlie platoon, you too are on a mission to success. You must define that success, set goals to achieve that success, and make a plan of action. Sometime you have to take a look around and make sure you’re still on the right path to success. Tunnel vision is good, if you’re in the right tunnel. If you’ve strayed off path, you might never know without reassessing your end goal, and your current path to get there.

So what are you aiming at? Are you on track to achieve your goals? Do have goals set to achieve success? It’s important to live intentionally and with purpose. Create your lifestyle by design. Define success, set goals, and take aim at your targets. Remember, enjoy the journey and look around every now and then.

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