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Archive for the ‘specifics’ Tag

Specificity   Leave a comment

One of the people I know loves to watch baseball.  Myself, I’m not a big fan of the sport, but I’ll watch it with her when she has it on.  She really gets into the game, including speaking to the television, encouraging her team on to greatness.  This led to a funny exchange the other day.

She was watching her team play and she said to the screen, “Ok, we need a hit here.”  After a few pitches the player hit the ball, right into an out.  She wasn’t happy about it and wondered what had just happened.  I said, “he did what you asked.”  She looked at me with an incredulous look.  “You asked for a hit and he did hit the ball.  You never specified what kind of hit you wanted.  Details matter.”  She looked at the screen and said “Ok, I want a home run.”  Sure enough, when the next player finally connected with the ball, he knocked it out of the park for a home run.  She looked over at me with amazement and I just repeated, “details matter.”

Now, I’m not claiming that she caused the home run.  I do believe in the law of attraction, but I doubt this was a case of it working.  I think it was more just a funny coincidence.  But it’s a funny coincidence that makes a great point.  Specificity in direction is important.  Details do indeed matter in life.  This is especially true in goal setting.  The more specific you are about your goal the better the chance you’ll realize it.  There are a number of reasons why this is true.

First, it really isn’t a meaningful goal if it isn’t a specific one.  Think about it.  How accomplished will you really feel if your goal today is to exercise?  It’s a very vague goal.  Pick up a semi heavy object and put it back down and you’ve essentially reached your goal.  Move ten feet farther than you needed to today to achieve your to do list and you’d have hit the goal as well.  But will you feel any sense of accomplishment meeting those benchmarks?  Probably not.  Now set the goal “I’m going to go on a 15 minute walk.”  That’s substantially more specific then “I’ll exercise today.”  It specifies not just that you’ll exercise but also what kind and for how long.  When you go out for that walk and return 15 minutes later you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because you met a specific goal.  How strong a sense of course will depend on how much your goal pushes you to achieve it.  If you can easily walk 15 minutes then it’ll be a small sense of accomplishment.  If you’re just starting out and live most of your life sitting down, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Second, details make it measurable.  “I’m going to make more money” is vague.  If I walk down the street and find a penny I’ve reached my goal.  I have more money then I did before.  I can stop trying now.  “I’m going to earn enough money to buy a ticket to go visit my friends in Alaska” is specific.  That penny I just found won’t cut it.  I could find a penny every day for a year and I wouldn’t even be able to buy a snack on the plane, let alone the ticket.  So I haven’t reached the measurement yet.  I need to keep going to reach my goal.  The goal posts are in a very specific location so I know how long to keep working at it.

Finally, to create a specific goal you’ll be required to think about it.  Using the first example, when creating an exercise goal you need to consider many factors.  What kind of fitness level are you trying to achieve?  Are you more interested in muscles or endurance?  Are you looking for fast results or do you have time to achieve your goal?  By considering all these factors you’re creating goals that are more relevant to you.  The more relevant the goal is to you the more likely you’ll achieve it.

You’re also going to create more reasonable goals when you think about them.  Using the second example, if you want to go visit your friends in Alaska you also have to consider different factors.  How will you get there?  Buses will get you there but will take days.  So flying would seem more reasonable.  How will you fly there?  Private charter would be really cool, but if you’re saving for the trip in the first place, it probably isn’t very reasonable.  First class tickets might be a bridge too far as well.  So now you’ve considered your options and your goal is to buy an economy ticket on a commercial airline by saving your money where you can.  That’s a very reasonable goal.  The more reasonable your goal is, the more you’ll believe in your ability to carry it out.  When you create unreasonable goals your subconscious knows you don’t stand a chance of making it and will sabotage every effort you make toward the goal.

So as you move forward into the future setting goals on how to improve your life, make them specific, measurable, and reasonable.  Give yourself every chance to succeed and you will.  Set yourself up for failure, and you’ll easily reach that goal too.  Me, I’m partial to hitting home runs.  Have a great day.

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