Forget Setting Goals: Focus on Your End Game

10/10/2016 10:28 am ET
Focus on Your End Game
Focus on Your End Game

Everyone has wants, needs, goals, Bucket Lists and things they desire to achieve in their lifetime. Some are as simple as, “I want to learn yoga” or some are more complex like, “I want to retire at 55.” But not only do our goals keep us motivated, they give us a reason to crawl out of bed every day. We all love our goals because they are like the go-go juice in our life tank.

But the deeper and more serious sister to Goal Setting is Your End Game. The Goal Setting sister likes to make lengthy wish lists on pretty floral paper with a super-cute pink pen. The End Game sister is the grittier more active sister who’s never able to sit still and traded in her pink pen for hardhat and work boots years ago. Your End Game is the journey, the process, the movement towards your goals, not just the speculation or yearning for them. Your End Game is the finish line where, after you did your homework, put on the miles, logged the time and took your knocks are rewarded with the victory of reaching your ultimate goal. Your End Game is the reason get out of bed every day, try hard and even make those pretty goal lists to begin with.

End Games are funny things. They don’t come in specially-marked-boxes or are available online with free shipping. End Games are unique to every person and need to be respected and worked just like any good project. Like following a map while on vacation, your End Game needs a plotted route so that every step you take in life is towards your the ultimate result of your dreams. End Games are the laser focus you need to be able to strategically stay on task, avoid getting misled by the inevitable Shiny Object and find yourself taking Origami classes when your end goal is to become a New York Times Best Selling Author.

Find Your Allies: Gabby Douglas is a member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics who won gold medals in both the individual all-around and team competitions. Gabby is the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics as well as being the only American all-around champion to win multiple gold medals. I am extremely certain that everything thing young Gabby has done in her nineteen years on this earth ultimately lead that the End Game of not only making it to the Olympics, but winning a gold medal. No doubt, at a very early age, Gabby and her parents put the wheels in motion for her to reach that moment in 2012 with special coaches, gyms, schools, gear and mentors. The bottom line is; Gabby found and used the allies that helped propel her to success. Creatives and business seekers need to do the same; find the people who are key in keeping their success train rolling in the right direction and listen to their guidance and wisdom.

Don’t “Half-A$$” it: One myth of cultivating our End Game is that we can “putz on it in our spare time.” End Games require commitment and consistency, and those who work on their goal “whenever the urge comes over them” will find their journey a long and drawn out affair. Now, we are not saying you should never enjoy downtime or stop and smell the roses. Everyone needs to allow the time and space to decompress and rest so we don’t end up a whimpering burned-out ball in a corner. But working your End Game, whether it’s as a CEO or a WAHM, needs to have purpose, clarity and the gumption to keep moving forward even on the days you don’t feel like it. Be all in.

Your Gameplan Consists of Routes and Systems: What is point A? How does to connect to Point B? What does Point C need to be? Like I mentioned before, your End Game journey needs a beginning, middle, an end and all the steps mapped out in between. Runners in Ironman triathlons don’t run aimlessly through the woods or “follow the pack” hoping everyone else knows where they are going. There is a planned route with checkpoints and destinations. Just as important as the planned route is a system in which to make that route happen. Systems may sound like something you need after you’ve reached your ultimate goal, but we can assure you that when working towards your End Game, good systems is how good work gets done. Zappos Shoes did not grow its business by hiring people and letting them figure out how to best work customer service or how to sell shoes. Instead, company leaders figured out the best way, secured the tools, documented the process, and trained everyone to do it that way. A good system makes people effective and helps them to work with meaning and purpose. They also ensure all bases are covered and all necessary steps are taken on the road to success. If you were to poll someone who had a dream and achieved it, they are likely to verify that they use effective principles, processes and tools to complete complex tasks. Bottom line; they use a system.

Regroup and Reevaluate: Somewhere within the millions of stories on the Internet is the real-life story of a small town that had a big problem one day. Apparently, this small town had one main highway, and above that main highway was a train track overpass. A long-haul trucker driver, who was new to the area, unknowingly drove his too-tall load under the overpass, got hopelessly stuck and basically jammed up the whole highway. After hours of speculation from a wide variety of law enforcement, local dignitaries and even an engineer, this small town had resigned to the fact that they need to dismantle either the semi or the overpass to resolve the problem. That is until a young boy happened past, tugged on the mayor’s sleeve and asked, “Why don’t you just let the air out of the tires?” Sometimes business pros "can't see the forest through the trees" because they are simply too close to the problem. If you find yourself stuck on one such conundrum, stop, take a step back. Reevaluate and even bring in another set of eyes and ideas.

The path to success is rarely straight but instead is filled with hills and valleys, twists and turns. Understanding this as you carve the path to your End Game will make the trip a much more pleasurable and memorable journey.

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