Ep 1 – Why Set Goals

I have taken two “no-tech” vacations since I started my IT business. Most recently, to the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina. I spent a long weekend at a tech-free meditation retreat. The weather was perfect. And it was the one weekend that the leaves changed – a delightful new look every hour. I highly recommend quiet weekends for clearing out cobwebs. Whilst waxing philosophical in the quiet mountains, I realized that who I am is not who I am required to always be. Yin and yang. I realized that I could both embrace my perfections and change my imperfections, la la la, kumbaya, woo woo, all that stuff. But, really, it’s true.

I change those imperfections using the process of setting goals. Take, for example, that list of personal goals you have written down. What’s that, you say? You don’t have life goals, business goals, or career goals fleshed out? Oh. Umm…we should talk.

When we are vague with goal setting, it is harder to manage growth. It’s time for a methodical process. Maybe we haven’t set goals because we’re stymied by distraction (who isn’t?). Or maybe we simply do not know how to start. These are not dead ends, but merely stumbling blocks. This series will give you tools to recognize your personal stumbling blocks so you can move around, move through, and move beyond them.

We want to learn to move past our “stuckness,” to get out of the habit of doing what others (or our old selves) want or expect us to do. We want to be living proactively, rather than accidentally. We want to act using our conscious mind rather than our subconscious mind. Defining our goals carefully, often creatively, is how we’re going to reach beyond those things that are keeping us stuck.

In effective goal setting we don’t simply pick some vague goal (e.g., “become a bazillionaire”) and go off on our merry way hoping to achieve financial independence. No, we do not. We take a patient, conscious look at our current life and desires, and build a defined route forward from today. It is a process – scary, exciting, surprising, and often transformational – that can take days or weeks to develop and should be reviewed periodically to keep you on track.

Time’s a-Wastin’ – Let’s Go Already!

Like all good IT admins, the first thing you need is a proper set of tools. For this particular task, you need a notebook (the physical kind…with real paper…I use a dotted journal) and a writing stick of some sort – any kind is fine so long as it helps you progress. I use markers, Microns, and pen & ink. You do you. You’re probably thinking, “But we’re in IT! We live in IT! We love IT! We have all the coolest apps in IT! I’ll just use Word.”


Why no electronics?

When we open our $ELECTRONIC_DEVICE, our workflow looks something like this:

  1. open a $WORD_PROCESSOR
  2. fiddle with margins
  3. find a font
  4. choose a font size
  5. resize the window
  6. type a bit
  7. fiddle with font size
  8. get interrupted by email
  9. look at our notifications
  10. check the calendar
  11. type a bit
  12. choose a new font
  13. more of the same

Further, automatic spellchecks slow down the creative process and interrupt workflow. You want a direct line from your brain, through your hand, to the paper. No middlemen. Paper and pen force singular focus. It forces you to slow down and focus on one important thing – you.

Subconscious vs. Conscious Mind

If you have ever done a sales presentation or interviewed for a job or gone on a date, you know that most of us act/react to situations based on how others perceive us. We’re either selling ourselves, our company, or a product. No matter what we’re selling, though, our “customer” is buying us first and our product second. What they see is a result of our earliest shaping, the gift we received from those who raised us. That shaping became our subconscious. That subconscious is our natural, unwashed self. To improve outcomes, sometimes we need to tweak those subconscious parts of ourselves. The subconscious is powerful, but it is not immutable.

In today’s adventure we are going to begin the process of redirecting our subconscious imprinting with some self-discovery exercises. This is your private writing. You do not need to share with anyone. You will find that you can write more freely and honestly if you are confident that you are the only reader.

So, in your sparkly new notebook, write down 5 things that come to mind when you think of 1) money and 2) success. Your list should include both positive and negative associations. Take your time, I’ll wait. Easy right? Good. Put an appointment in your calendar to rerun this exercise after you’ve been working on your goals for a month or two.

Trust the Process

A successful goal setting process starts today. Before you can even fix your goals (“becoming a bazillionaire” is still not a goal) you have to know what is and isn’t working. Where are you now? What’s going well and what needs fixing? You want to gain clarity of your intentions. So, we begin with an exercise about satisfaction.

For our last exercise in this part of the series, on a fresh page, create two columns. Don’t worry about how straight the line is (I know someone is fussing with that – you can add a ruler to your kit if it makes you happy AND keeps you focused). On the left side of your paper, you’re going to make a list of different areas of your life. On the right side of the page, rate your current level of satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest. Leave enough space after each item so that you have room to write about it. I encourage you to grow this list and make it your own, so leave yourself a page or two.

Some suggestions to get you started:

  • Family and Friends 
  • Fun and Recreation 
  • Health 
  • Money 
  • Personal and Spiritual Development 
  • Career

This is the foundation upon which we will build over the next few weeks. I’m going to leave you with this assignment. Take your time with this exercise. Put it aside, come back to it. Work in 20-30 minute sessions over the coming days. And feel free to join the discussion in the JumpCloud Lounge #admin-life channel!

Published on 9/30/21 – https://jumpcloud.com/blog/setting-goals-ep1

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