When you were a teen, think mid-late high school, the question that was posed to you on an incredibly frequent basis was, "So what do you want to do with yourself after school?", with the intention being that you would give some sort of well formed and thought through answer about what career, profession or trade you were going to pursue. Whilst the question seems good intentioned, I think it places the focus on all the wrong things.
I was challenged in my thinking recently to change my focus from being on the "What" to the "Who" and from the "Who" to the "Why" - a complete shift in my goal-setting thinking! Rather than benchmarking what I want to achieve, I started to look at people or the "who's" who are achieving the kinds of things that I want to, looking at their history, their past, their study, their work experience. Doesn't mean we need to replicate these people, but learning about their journey so that you can put context into yours!
But further to this - why are you drawn to these people? Why are you drawn to the kind of achievements they have accomplished? What motivates you? Ultimately your "Why" will shape your "Who" which will create your "What".
I know, I'm up in the clouds. Talking about these things like they're all just fun concepts, so a simple illustration for you.
I have a dream to be a CEO. My "What". I want to be able to cast vision and empower leaders and represent an organisation with enthusiasm. Make strategic goals and objectives and decisions and inspire executives to engage with the mission and see these things come to fruition. (Sounds like a glamorous life right, I've heard it's pretty hard work). So I have been doing my research on other CEO's of organisations (My "Who") that I would love to lead - but how did I come to the conclusion as to the kind of organisation I would like to lead? My "Why" because I want to not only lead an organisation, I want to lead an organisation that's changing the world. One that is playing a part in the fight for equality for people all over the world who are living in poverty. I want to be a part of changing the lives of those who have lost hope, and I don't want to do that just be throwing money at them, I want to do that by engaging people in wealthy nations to the cause, and empowering them to be a part of the change.
Without taking the time to reflect on really why I wanted to pursue what I wanted to, my goal setting had no meaning.
Now, hear me when I say this but I acknowledge that really not everyone's "Why" is going to be to fight poverty. Your "Why" might be to always be doing something that you love, or to becoming a thought leader or a change agent that businesses and organisations turn to for advice and help. Your "Why" might be as simple as this is what I'm good at. But use that why to think bigger! To dream!
Because your motivation means everything. Don't get stuck in the rut of working a job to pay the bills or have a fancier car - let these things just be the benefits of pursuing your dreams!
Inspired rant over.