Growth vs. Goals

Goal setting is a hot topic these days in such a fast paced world. The speed at which society as a whole, businesses, and other institutions are moving with the introduction of technology and technological innovation is staggering. To help keep track with the fast pace world we live in, many have found that one of the best habits to develop is that of setting goals. A quick search on Amazon for goal planners will produce hundreds of results. These planners all have one general focus: set goals and then track your habits that will help you reach them. 


    The reason, I believe, why there has been such a push towards goal setting is due to the amount of information we are bombarded with every day by technology. Having so much information in the palm of our hand through a smart phone, coupled with the massive amount of time-wasting social media available can make it very hard to stay on track and keep all of our thoughts managed amongst so much other information and media. Enter the habit of setting goals, creating habits to reach them, and tracking progress. But maybe there’s a better way.


    I’m a goal setting junkie. Every year I set out to do 10 massive things that I want to accomplish for the year. By the time March rolls around (if I’m lucky to make it that far), I’ve already forgotten more than half of them. This isn’t for a lack of trying to reach those goals, or even for a lack of tracking trends and habits that I believe will help me reach these goals. Usually it’s because not every day do I have the time, energy, or resources available to make progress on the goals I set. 


    For instance, I set a big goal at the beginning of the year to grow CrossFit Laminin by a certain amount of members. What I found pretty quickly was that some days I didn’t have the time to work on this goal, some days I didn’t have the energy, and other days I didn’t have the resources. Now, the easy answer to this is to free up time, energy, and resources from other areas and funnel it into reaching my goal. So that’s what I did. I took time off the floor, which gave me more energy, and then I reorganized my resources to develop strategies to grow Laminin. Sounds like a perfect recipe, but it wasn’t. 


    Instead, what happened was I found out that I was pretty awful at sales, had no idea how to market, and was lacking in ideas of how to grow the business. So, I was only left with one option: I had to grow. The skill set I had developed for 10 years as a coach didn’t help me as a gym manager. Therefore I had to begin a journey of developing a new skill set which I’m still in the long and arduous process of doing.


    Recently I was reading through John Maxwell’s book LeaderShift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace. In the book, Maxwell has a chapter titled: Goals to Growth, The Personal Development Shift. It was in this chapter I read something that completely changed my mind around goal setting and personal development. Maxwell writes, “If you shoot for goals, you’ll achieve your goals, but you may not grow. If you shoot for growth, you’ll grow and you’ll achieve goals.” These two sentences changed how I viewed my work on a day to day basis. 


    Over the few months spent trying to achieve a goal, I was unable to look back over those months and see how I grew as a man, as a leader, and as a gym owner. While I may have gained ‘some’ skills in regards to growing a gym, I was astonished to realize that my own personal growth took a serious hit and that virtually no growth had occurred in my life. I was so consumed with reaching a goal (and bearing the burden of what felt like running into a brick wall day after day) that I left behind my own personal development and growth. 


    Once I implemented this ‘leader-shift’ that Maxwell writes about and started focusing on growth and not goals, it was liberating. I believe one of the reasons for this is because I can always control my own personal growth. I can always set time apart to be intentional about growing as a man of God by spending time in God’s Word. I can always set time apart to be intentional about growing as a leader by spending time with my employees. I can always set time apart to be intentional about growing as a business owner by talking to my current members. However, I can’t always control if I reach my goals or not because many of the contributing factors are outside my control. 


    I want to be clear that I’m not saying I don’t set goals or have given up on some that I have previously set. On the contrary, I continue to chase them down every day. Now, however, the focus has changed on just simply meeting a goal, and instead growing into the person who can reach those goals. It’s a subtle difference but one that has a large impact when you embrace it. 


    So, to sum up, continue to set goals but instead of only focusing on the goal itself, ask yourself the question, “how can you grow into the person you need to be to reach this goal?” That’s the million dollar question and the answer to it will get you to your goals.


Jake Naumcheff,

Owner/Head Coach of CrossFit Laminin