Did you know that a guy named Thomas Dewey has shaped your life?
Before you object, allow me to explain.
I remember being about 10 years old and thinking about what I wanted to do after high school. My parents said 4 little words that shaped the course of my life…”you’re going to college”. Little did I know, there was a promise – a psychological contract – implied, one that didn’t start with my parents. It’s a part of society and the American worldview that says “get good grades, go to college, and come out with any job your want.” It wasn’t until 10 years later that I read something that not only blew my mind, it explained why the American dream is tied to a college education.
It traces back to a guy named Thomas Dewey, whose ideologies have shaped the lives of Americans for the last 80 years.
In the 1930s, John Dewey and Robert Hutchins engaged in a debate about the purpose of education. Hutchins’ position was that education prepared you for life. Dewey’s position was that education was designed to prepare you for a job. Dewey won. And his position has shaped the education system of the United States. (That kinda explains why we don’t learn much about topics such as starting a business, personal finance and conflict management in grade school).
My point is that we have involuntarily pursued someone else’s big goal at some point in our lives. If not our parents’ or Thomas Dewey’s goals, then we’ve certainly pursued our boss’ goals. In addition to the “have-to” items of life, it is also crucial that you make sure that the goals that you set for yourself are your goals. Goals that you can commit to and take ownership over.
Sometimes you reach for goals that are not what you want. It may be a goal that your parents or spouse set for you. Your goal could even be required to keep your job or receive a promotion. And let’s not forget the suggestions of our advisors and mentors that we give a warm response at best. You lack commitment to achieve these goals because they do not reflect the heart of what you really want. These tasks do have value, but they are a means to an end – not the end itself.
When this happens, your sense of ownership affects your willingness to commitment to that goal. It’s tough to achieve a goal that you have not committed to without feeling like you’re being pulled in two directions.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to reexamine your life and figure out or even rediscover what you really want to accomplish in life.
One idea is to perform a quick “My Goals” test. Here’s how it works:
First, think about a business or professional goal that you have a little trouble setting your mind to achieving.
Then ask yourself a few questions like:
- “Is this my goal?”
- “Is this something that I really want out of life?”
- “Or is it ____________’s goal?” (If it’s someone else’s goal, write their name in the blank in that previous sentence.)
- Now think: “Is there a way for me to work together with _________ to accomplish my goal? Is ___________ currently pursuing this goal? If so, is there a way for us to work together?”
- “How will working with _____________ get me closer to where I am going?”
When I see the “Y” in the S.M.A.R.T.Y. goals acronym, I’m often reminded that I DO have an element of control or influence over what happens in my life. I don’t have to sit by and let things happen to me. I have to make sure the goals that I decide to pursue are important to me, and not just imposed on me. On a constant basis, I have to figure out and increase how much control and ownership I have over my goals.
Here’s one thing I hope you take away from this email:
Increasing commitment is essential to achieving your business vision.
It’s like a chain reaction. More commitment leads to more action. And you can turn actionable goals into accomplished goals.
To increase committment to your vision and take action on the goals you’ve set, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org about introductory coaching starting at just $65.00 for a half-hour session.
Thomas E. Anderson, II is a vision development coach who enjoys motivating and equipping individuals to pursue personal, professional and organizational goals that lead to a more fulfilling life. He specializes in life focus, vision development and goal acceleration.