Looking For The Goal-Behind-The-Goal

Pedaling up a steep hill saw a dad mowing the yard next to the street and having the same challenge I was with overcoming gravity to get to the top. Noticing something the father was seemingly unaware of, his little boy was pushing a toy lawn mower up that same hill to be just like dad.

The goal of dad is to maintain the lawn to look nice and finish the job quickly. Time is short whether it’s getting a training ride in or finishing household duties. The problem is routine tasks have a way of disguising profound lessons unless integrated with intentional thought. With no noteworthy goal in mind, the guess is that dad may have missed a teachable moment.

The word “goals” easily surpasses 1.5 billion hits on a Google search. What to do: set a stretch, go long, meddle in the medium, stay short, be SMART, form formal, do distal, ponder proximal, lean into learning, or push performance goals? Take aim, stack, eliminate, meditate, or marinate with these goals? The answer is “Yes!”… to pick whatever works.

The “systems” for setting goals with the multiple descriptors as mentioned above get results for some people some of the time, but what if nothing seems to be working? Keep searching for the next new system that has a money back guarantee? Maybe, but the key might more easily be attainable with some forethought.

Perhaps dad did have in mind that cutting the grass was important, but the integrated intention was to spend time with and be a role model for his son. The grass gets cut either way, but if dad is looking for teachable moments, a golden opportunity may present itself. If the son fails to show interest, nothing is lost. However, when the little boy responds as happened in this instance, enormous long-term benefits can be reaped.

The desirable outcome for this scenario might be for dad to be a role model. Exhibiting a strong work ethic, doing a quality job, and having a good attitude are a few of the things this dad might have used as goals to model and discuss before, during, and afterwards. The son pushing the toy mower like dad is another golden opportunity. Dad can praise the effort, be proud of the thoughtfulness of the boy, and express how working together to provide a nice home for mom is to be admired.

A good goal setting system is only as effective as the person trying to implement it. The goal systems that have followers obviously work, especially the ones people are paying for on a regular basis. The key to the implementation is the goal-behind-the-goal.

The mundane things in life like paying bills, getting the car maintained, and grocery shopping do have an opportunistic side. Consider a mom that had two little boys to take care of with some shopping to do. At first the little guys responded just like expected, running all over the place, grabbing stuff, exploring, and eating things. Mom thought of bailing the scene ASAP, but reframed the shopping event.

“Little boys need to be strong and make sure mom is safe. When you stay by my side, you provide protection and can help get things into the cart like dad does.” Now granted, mom does this all the time by herself, but teaching the boys chivalry and responsibility was an awesome goal-behind-the-goal that made sense!

All goal systems need the proper motivation to implement. Thinking of the goal-behind-the-goal does that. The “Yes” answer opening this article was not being facetious. Consider many goal methodologies and choose the things that resonate personally. The system concepts stay relatively constant, there is nothing new under the sun.

What does change is the person. Different seasons of life, tragedies, challenges, and situations all play a role in the goal-behind-the-goal. Life is a moving target of problems never resolved by a perfected formula. A pure motive and taking a little time to think of a goal-behind-the-goal out trumps any sophisticated system. Just dig a little deeper into everyday circumstances, get out of the norm, and say “Yes!” to a goal-behind-the-goal.