Moving from Fridge Goals to Real Goals
I was chatting with a friend recently about the forthcoming christening of his first child, to which I was invited, albeit online because of the pandemic. As we talked more about the impact of his son, he shared how his priorities and goals have changed since the birth.
Predictable income and more time for his family had surged nearer the top of his priority list. Then he shared with me that he has a list of aspirations in the kitchen, and that these fridge goals serve as a “north star” of sorts. However, like making Pinocchio a real boy, it turns out that “fridge goals” require a bit of work.
How do we make fridge goals as likely to be achieved as picking up milk or toilet paper on the grocery list?
Start when you have the time, or make the time
If you are going through your third re-watch of Law & Order SVU Season 8 you probably have at least a bit of time available to take on some goals. But a fairly common mistake is adding to an already crowded plate. Your first move may be to review your set of obligations and clear away those that are not a priority, whether they are taking time now, or not. My friend stopped taking Spanish classes and teaching yoga to make more time to spend with his child, for example. It took him a couple of months to make the adjustment, but he just did not have time for it all.
Have a realistic number of goals that fit together
Time is a precious commodity for all of us. And many goals have component parts. For example, if you decide that a goal is to deliver a Ted Talk at the end of the year you will need to determine your topic, practice your public speaking at home and in front of others, apply to present at a number of venues and finally, deliver it. That is quite a bit of work behind one goal and the list includes some variables you do not have total control over. If your goal is to drink three gallons of water daily, the time and access to water is hopefully something much more manageable. As you consider the available time, you will need to watch this blend.
Ensure that the goals themselves are realistic, in and outside a time frame
Using the two examples we used above we need to consider whether they could happen and at what pace. If you are only drinking a gallon of mountain dew daily and planning to switch to water you may need to not attempt an immediate complete swap, rather you may have targets that build up your water consumption over months. Similarly, depending on how competitive the Ted Talk is near you, your uniqueness of topic, and your speaking skills, you may need to expand your timeline.
Rely on an accountability partner
Realizing your goals is not always easy and having help along the way makes a huge difference. If the goal is one that you have struggled with before, you might want to seek out someone with expertise in a paid coaching role to help you. However, we are all better off when we rely on the someone(s) in our life who have made the kind of changes we are about to make or can provide us with the encouragement and perspective we need when we might be about to give up.
Show yourself grace
Success for most of us is not linear. Normal is messing up such that you finish off that pint of frosting, apply to 30 online job openings regardless of fit, or skip your online writing class and do not do the homework. Recognize that you would be kind to a friend who made the same mistake and help them get back on track. Do the same for yourself.
Celebrate the successes
When you hit your targets and your goals, share them with the people you like the most. You just had a great second interview. Fantastic. You just got up to running two miles on the treadmill. Amazing. If you do not celebrate well, make sure that your accountability partner(s) include someone who can make you take a moment and own that you are realizing your goals.
Revisit goal setting
These goals we have are going to change over time. Your doctor tells you about some new expectation for your health, or you feel anxiety about your work situation. Revisit your goals at least twice a year, to see if they are now the right ones, and what you have learned about what helps you to be successful in realizing them.
I hope this helps you see a realistic way to take that old sheet of paper off the fridge and move it into your heart. And into action in your life.
—Russ Finkelstein is the opposite of your High School Guidance Counselor. A career coach, social entrepreneur, and advisor to founders, he is currently the Director of Coaching with the Roddenberry Fellowship, Coach-in-Residence with StartingBloc Fellowship, and a Co-Founder of Title8 a Legal Marketplace. He was a founder of the noted careers website Idealist.org and his new book, "Let's Sort Out Your Career Mess, Together..." is forthcoming in 2021.