Stop Setting Goals
I’ve been asking my writing groups to set goals every Sunday for a while now.
I do it because science tells us that if you share your goals in public, you’re more likely to achieve them.
Now I’m asking you (and them) to stop.
What? Why on earth would I say something as crazy as that?
Goals aren’t enough
I recently shared how I spent countless afternoons shooting baskets. I did that like kids play video games and watch TV shows now. The difference is in my youth there were only 3 or 4 TV channels and video games meant Pong on a cumbersome game console connected to your black and white TV.
Hardly enough to inspire excitement.
Throwing the ball so it hit the basket was exciting. Seeing how many swishes I could get from how many places was a blast.
But it didn’t get me on the basketball team. It didn’t inspire conversations about shooting hoops. And I gave it up when I assumed adult responsibilities.
Goals are great when you want to accomplish something. But they’re not enough. They’re like the car you drive to work. They’ll get the job done, but they may not inspire you to do more than you have to.
When I was a kid, some of my church peers would go on mission trips. They didn’t go on goal trips. They may have had goals while they were there, but there was always a sense of doing something bigger than yourself.
On Mission Impossible, they start off by saying, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to …. “
In the Blues Brothers, when the brothers try to convince their former members to put the band back together, Elwood always chimes in with “We’re on a mission from God.”
In Remember the Titans, Coach Yoast is called to a mission when he sees the referees at the State Championship making calls that favor the all white team. He starts by confronting the chief referee.
“You call this game fair, or I’m going to the papers. I don’t care if I go down with you.”
Then he tells his defensive players, “Don’t let them gain another yard.”
That’s what a mission does.
A mission is the WHY behind your goals.
Why do you want your team to make a touchdown or score a field goal? Because if they can do it more than the other team does, they win. There’s glory to be had. Town pride will rise. And people will come together who might otherwise not know each other.
A mission is a movement that transcends all kinds of barriers.
Do you have one?
If not, how do you get one?
First, find a need.
Not just any need. Something that is causing people pain — so much that they would do almost anything to get rid of it.
The problem is they just don’t have the time, the resources, or the willpower to fix it themselves.
Or maybe they just don’t know how.
Either way, they’ve given up trying. But hope remains. If you can build a bridge to satisfy that hope, you’ve got yourself a mission.
But honestly, it isn’t just your mission. You’re just leading others to carry it out with you.
Second, a mission is something bigger than you.
So you want to sell a million copies of your book. Great! Then what? What will you do after that?
Maybe you’re still wondering how anyone sells a million copies.
The number doesn’t matter. Why does anyone buy a book, especially someone who isn’t on your launch team? Why does someone read your blog posts or join your group?
They’re looking for something. A community. A place to learn, share, and grow. A place to meet people and make real connections. A chance to make a difference.
Your mission is what attracts people. It’s also the glue that holds them there. Goals have an end. Missions can go on, depending on how big the scope.
Ask yourself, “What can I do to make this person’s life better for knowing and interacting with me?”
That’s what your talent is for. You have gifts. Use them. There is a platform where you fit and can make the contribution only you can make.
What is your mission, in one sentence? What are you here to do?
Share it in the comments. Who knows? Some of us might join you!