Fuzzy better than SmartIf I asked you the question “What do you want?”, would you really know the answer? ... Immediately and without hesitation; with complete certainty and conviction?

Would you know even if I woke you from a deep sleep at 3:30 in the morning and asked you?

Or interrupted you when you were totally immersed in the best film you’ve ever watched in your life?

So let me ask you now:

What do you want?

For your life; your work; yourself; your family?

What do you really want?

Take a few moments and think about your answer.

If you’re like most of us, you can probably only give a fairly generalised answer. And even if you think that your answer is quite specific, you may find that it’s a lot more vague than you thought when you start to drill into it - that the thing you thought was solid rock turns out to be rather flakey plaster.

And that’s completely fine, because despite what many of the goal setting gurus tell us, you don’t actually need to have Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound, or “SMART”, goals in order to move forward.

You see, to a very great extent, goal setting is an iterative process - you create your goal; you move forward a bit; you learn; you modify the goal; you move towards it a bit more; you learn; you modify; you move; and so on. When you look at it this way, you can see that a goal is something that develops as you move towards it, rather than something you have to fully form before you even start.

And the need to fashion perfect goals set in concrete before you start is, for many of us, just another subtle form of procrastination.

Far better to start working towards a somewhat undefined, or “Fuzzy Goal” than to wait until you have created the perfectly honed, beautiful object that you are happy to hold up as the representation of your “true direction” in life. Because, for those of you struggling with defining those solid, SMART goals, you may have noticed that the troublesome little so and sos keep on changing and slipping from your grasp.

And you really don’t need that perfect definition in order to ask the next, and even more important, question:

What will it take to get there?

Now, if your goals are a bit fuzzy, then the answer to this question will be too, and that’s actually the point.

Because as long as you understand what it will take in generalised terms you can start to answer the third, and even more important, question (which we’ll get to shortly).

Let me put it this way:

If you were planning a road trip from London to Rome, and the only extent to which you have defined the goal is “I want to travel from London to Rome by road.”

What will it take to get there?

Well, presumably it would take a car - or perhaps it wouldn’t because maybe you’d like to use a combination of walking, busses and hitch-hiking, so you’d need a stout pair of boots, the right clothing and a backpack.

And a map and route plan would be useful - but, there again, you could actually ask for directions along the way. In which case what it would take would be a willingness to ask questions and trust people.

It will certainly take some time - how much depends on a number of factors, including your chosen method of travel and the level of detail in your map and route plan.

Now, we could continue this example and build a list of all the things that we think it would take to get to Rome. Or at least the most important things that would allow us to get on our way, because again this is an iterative process and some of the things you will only discover once you get underway, however like the initial goal setting, this stage also contains the same procrastination trap, so aiming to build an exhaustive list before we start getting in action is really not a good idea.

All we really need is enough of a list to be able to ask the most important question:

Are you willing to do what it takes to get there?

Let’s say you did choose to take the walk/bus/hitch approach with no map, and that you came to the conclusion that it would take 3 months, substantial physical discomfort and the daily overcoming of a temptation to quit.

Are you willing to do what it takes?

Alternatively, the car choice with the latest sat nav might take just two days and be a lot more comfortable, but it would require the investment of several hundred pounds, that may not be easy to come by.

Are you willing to do what it takes?

Now you can take these questions and steps and start to apply them to real goals in your own life. So.....

What do you want?

For your life; your work; yourself; your family; or any other area you choose?

Remember, it is completely fine at this stage that your goal is Fuzzy. In fact it’s better, because you’ll have it defined and get into action much, much quicker.

Important caveat here: Although I’ve offered you unlimited areas to choose from, it is important to focus on and work through the questions for only one goal at a time - anything else is likely to set up what I call an “Inertia Loop” where trying to hold and work on several ideas at the same time means you end up making no real progress on any of them. (This also applies when you come to actually working on achieving the goals.)

Once you’ve defined your Fuzzy Goal, ask yourself:

What will it take to get there?

While it is very important to be completely honest about what it’s going to take in terms of time, effort, energy, money, and other resources you can, again, be comfortable with a Fuzzy answer. This isn’t about getting it right, or complete, or perfect. It is simply about defining it enough to allow you to authentically answer question 3: Am I willing to do what it will take?

If the answer is “Yes”, then you can go right ahead and get to work on achieving your goal, making use of the iterative process to refine and develop as you progress.

And if it’s a “No”, then you can drop it and shift your focus to something else, without wasting hours, days, weeks, months or even years reworking and honing your perfect goal without ever getting into action.

I invite you to “Fall in Love with Fuzzy.”

 

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