Whatever our position or circumstances, the future is something we’re all thinking about a lot at the moment. If you’re a businessperson of any kind, the future is even more of a pressing concern.
Some of your considerations may be short-term. “How will I pay my employees and myself this week?” Some may be longer-term. “How can I keep my business secure in these profoundly uncertain times?” But your worries and fears all boil down to one simple question. What do I do next?
Born without limbs, Nick Vujicic chose to redefine what many would call a challenge as an opportunity. Through passing on the benefits of his unique life experience, he’s become a New York Times best-selling author and world-renowned public speaker.
When the pandemic cancelled all his upcoming engagements, Nick was ready, again, to turn a test into a target – taking the chance to spend more time with his family, and connect with audiences in a new way online. There’s no one we can think of more capable of facing the future boldly and wisely. So when he gave us practical goal-setting tips in a recent podcast, we were keen to hear what he had to say.
When defining your goals, Nick believes no plan you make should ever require you to give up things you can’t live without, which he says could include faith, family, finance and friends. “We never sacrifice planning for our basic needs. So we’re building on top of that understanding and foundation.”
“I have personally found that when you do not give yourself clear, real, attainable goals, your years simply get stolen from you. Your sense of purpose and direction can get foggy and hazy quickly. The simplest desires you have for your future can slowly begin to feel impossible. And I don’t want that for you.”
Contrary to the approach many of us use, Nick says we should actually identify our short-term goals before our long-term ones. “This is very important because some of the aspirations that we see clearest in our minds are actually the furthest from coming to fruition.”
“And if you don’t see, and don’t focus, on the steps between here and there, it can very easily become something that’s so discouraging that you don’t even feel like trying to go towards it.”
As some of us have probably discovered recently, long-term goals can change as new information or circumstances arise. “There’s so much in life that you can’t know until you actually get there, and I have a good friend who created a long-term goal of becoming a film actor. He studied acting at a university. He moved to Las Angeles. He got an agent and he pursued that long-term goal.”
“As he got further and further along the path towards that dream, he began to realise it wasn’t exactly what he had envisioned. He shifted his steps towards the things in life that he realised he actually wanted. And now he’s a producer, and a writer, and as happy as ever.”
“See, when you set up to accomplish your short-term goals, even if your long-term goals change and evolve, you create a habit of progress for yourself, and a process that eventually will let you climb anywhere, recalibrating and redirecting yourself as you go. Remember that in success, if you don’t evolve, you still may fail.”
When developing your goals, Nick says you should ask “what do I want to see from myself”? “We know that’s a big mistake that people make. Your goal is to develop something, not to be given something. You don’t frame the goal as ‘I want my boss to give me a promotion’. You frame your goal as ‘I want to earn a promotion’.”
Another common mistake is making your goals unrealistic. “It doesn’t help you at all if you’re living paycheque to paycheque in a studio apartment, and you look at your life plan, and say to yourself ‘in one month I want to own my own house’! No. That’s not how life works.”
Instead, you should be seeking to identify the next step for you or your business. “Look at your job and ask ‘what attainable change could I start making tomorrow? What is the next tier of salary I could earn, the next level of skill that I could earn?”
“Setting short-term goals is all about branching off of your current reality, plotting real next steps that you know you can take, so long as you make the choice to stay consistent.”
In his podcast, Nick helps us make a map of our short-term goals, which he categorises as “personal”, “passion” and “financial” goals. We highly recommend you check it out for a deeper look at the details of his philosophy. But the importance of making short-term goals is identifying how they help you move toward the longer-term ones. And those big dreams are just as necessary.
“Remember, if you don’t take control of having these long-term goals, these years will simply drift by, and you’ll become numb, older, looking back and saying ‘wait a second. I never did that. I never actually got there’.”
In the couple of months he’s been stuck at home, Nick says he’s made around six of these goal maps. They’ve helped him realise that he himself had actually ended up on a kind of autopilot, letting the road control his life, and losing track of what he really cared about.
“I needed to let go. I needed to face my reality. I needed to understand I don’t have so much control. And in letting go, maybe this is the new foundation, where the next 20 years is built upon. Sustainable, doable, maintainable. Going back to my passion, my personal goal. Faith. Family. Being connected. Making a difference in the world, but not sacrificing what I used to sacrifice, that at a time, made sense.”
In a time of crisis, it’s more tempting than ever to live in survival mode. But if we think like Nick, and take this moment as an opportunity to reassess our priorities, and build new goal-setting strategies, this could be the perfect time for thinking carefully about what it would really take to achieve our dreams.
“Reframe the way you look at your present and your future. Take control over this new season of life. That is what’s going to fill your soul. That is what’s going to help you keep on going, to have strength and courage to continue.”
“Eventually, momentum will come back, but make sure you’re running in the right direction, with these little tools to equip you to dream big and never give up.”
Photos via Shutterstock.com