2020 Goal-setting part 6: prioritize and test

Looking at your wild and crazy list of potential goals for 2020! There’s so much possibility in that empty page- and in the year to come. And I’m so grateful that you’ve made it this far in our goal-setting journey together.

Sometimes when I’m going through my workday I find myself spinning in dozens of direction: starting an e-mail, creating a document, making an edit, taking a phone call… thirty minutes later I find a dozen projects that are half-completed. Without a clear priority, it’s all too easy to start spinning in circles.

Prioritizing is even more important when setting new goals. We can only handle so much change at a time before things start to fall through the cracks. So today, we’re prioritizing your most impactful goals for 2020.

Go back to yesterday’s brainstorm, and select your big game-changing goals.

  • Which goals could be your biggest game-changer in 2020?
  • Which goals would be your greatest leverage point, helping you build momentum and preparing you to take on some of your other goals in the future?
  • Which goals resonate deep in your core self as something you’re called to do?

It’s worth selecting goals that are just a little bit scary– that stretch you out of the comfort zone of what you can imagine.

So before we finalize this list, you’re going to go through a powerful practice: fear-setting. Developed by Tim Ferris, fear-setting is a way to face your fears about a potential goal head-on and create a realistic understanding of the risk your goal entails.

This quote from Ferris seized my attention and made me question my worldview: “The fear of the unknown [is most commonly] disguised as optimism.”

It’s almost a gut instinct to apply optimism as a band-aid in the face of a challenge. But there is power in pausing… and learning from the frustrations that cause us to stumble.

The point of Ferris’s exercise is that imagining a worst-case scenario usually exposes how little we have to fear about the future. Few failures are catastrophic.

It’s easier to move forward on a goal when we have a clear picture of the worst-case scenario, instead of fearing an unknown shadow.

Thinking about each potential game-changing goal, ask yourself:

1.       What is your absolute nightmare scenario? What would happen if your leap of faith completely went awry?

2.       What would happen if your goal went moderately poorly? Or moderately well?

3.       Would your goal still be worth pursuing, even if you failed to achieve or complete it?

So how risky are your goals? Are they risky enough that you would put skin in the game to see them through? Google is notorious for having a pro-failure company policy. Googlers’ attempt to reach only 60% of their goals – giving them mental room to set ambitious goals without worrying about failing for 40% of the time.

If you’re a perfectionist or an overacheiver, what might it look like if you embraced failure 40% of the time? Would it help you dream bigger?

Today when I looked back at my goal brainstorm, I was actually a little disappointed in how cautious and contained my potential goals were. My goals for writing and speaking, for example, were one tiny step forward. Going through the fear-setting exercise and applying Google’s 40% failure rule is expanding my horizon for what might be possible in 2020 and encouraging me to look for leaps of faith.

Have you tried fear setting before? Do you think your goals err on the side of too easy or too difficult? I can’t wait to read about your experience with this exercise in the comments below. Yes, I truly love reading them!

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