Without a clear direction for your life and business as an entrepreneur, it is very easy to work towards short-term results without long-term vision. Such goals are often a variation of “more”. More followers, more views, more revenue, more, more, more. That is why you need your OMG. Your One Major Goal.
I believe in the power of creators, independents and bootstrappers! A lot of good can come from people who are making a living doing work they find meaningful while working on their own terms. Most of these people are doing work that they deeply believe in. That attitude will make the world a bit better.
But, this way of living and working can also suck you into a state of always being switched on. In the early stages, you are busy to get your work out into the world. Pushing through the silence, the lack of subscribers, the lack of confirmation that you are doing something right.
Once you do have some traction and get some feedback on your work, the addiction phase sets in. You feel validated and from now on you want to reach and help as many people as possible.
Why have an OMG?
Having your One Major Goal (OMG) is important because it gives you something to guide your day-to-day decisions and goals.
Your OMG is a holistic approach to looking at life goal setting. For creators and independents, work is an integral part of life, more so than most other jobs. Work is life. Work becomes deeply intertwined with our desired lifestyle. So, it makes sense to use a goal-setting method that takes your whole life into account.
With your OMG in hand, it becomes a great guide when making day-to-day decisions. It acts as a personal vision, a beacon in the night to guide you to where you want to go.
Compass before the clock
An OMG is the start of the LOFTY-goals framework and provides a structured way to give direction in your work and thus your life. It is not a productivity hack or stack of tools to create ever more output.
Much of the content on productivity is focused on increasing output and finding ever more ways to do stuff. It is very easy to find written articles and video’s on how to speed read 200 books a year, while working fulltime and having a system to remember everything.
What is missing is a focus on how these apps, systems and techniques help you to deal with all the responsibilities you have as an adult. How do you keep moving in the right direction, no matter how small those steps are? How do you know what to do, if time is not under your control.
OMG as part of the LOFTY-goals framework, is a way to enjoy today, while knowing what it is you working towards and why. Only when that is clear, can you start working efficiently and see if your actions are effective with respect to your OMG.
Science behind OMG
The roots of this method come from Intentional Change Theory developed in the 1970’s by Richard Boyatzis. It has become a cornerstone in management science and psychology. The theory states that everybody can help other people make changes to their lives. Not by setting (smart goals) or removing barriers, but by getting a clear focus on their dreams and desires and help them move towards those.
Whether you’re a boss, a colleague, or a friend, you can help the people around you make important life-enhancing changes. But the way to do that isn’t by setting targets for them and fixing their problems; it’s by coaching with compassion, an approach that involves focusing on their dreams and how they could achieve themRichard E Boyatzis in Harvard Business Review.
The Intentional Change Theory struck a chord with me. Focussing on what you dream about, made so much more sense to me than creating short-term goals in the context of work alone.
Learning about the psychology of motivation, influence and persuasion for a project at work, rekindled a flame inside me. That experience lead me down a path of learning and discovery to figure out in what ways I could make lasting changes that aligned with my deepest personal values and most obscure dreams for the future. I learned a lot about emotional intelligence, motivation, influence, and persuasion.
That rabbit hole made me realise that a piece of paper I had made 7 years ago, had been a solid way to describe my loftiest dreams. Although I had not come up with any catchy acronym yet, it was the OG OMG 😀.
Putting my lofty dream into words, changed my life. That sounds overly dramatic, but sitting down and spending a good chunk of time to really figure out what it is you want from life, can have a huge impact.
It had unconsciously become my guide to making better decisions. Just by writing it down. After a while, I had pretty much forgotten about it, but by spending time to write it down, I must have internalized my OMG.
The day I became an independent entrepreneur, my wife put it in front of me again. She had kept it for all those years and when she showed it to me, I started crying.
The method changed here and there over time, and I have used it in 1:1 coaching with independent entrepreneurs, creators and digital nomads. All of whom had gone on a path of independence as a way to live their life with as much autonomy as possible. But all coaching clients either felt stuck in place, or stuck in a rat race with no idea what to do next.
Spending time to think and describe their OMG, never fails to provide clarity and direction. The next steps to take become apparent and appear very logical where before, confusion and doubt made it hard to see clearly what to do.
How to come up with your own OMG?
Coming up with your own OMG can take some serious time. But, it is time very well spent. Doing the work to get your OMG provides you with a newfound sense of your values, purpose and direction. It is a great way to turn these vague words into a clear image in your brain of your potential future.
Below you will find a few question to ask yourself to help you find your One Major Goal. The magic is not in the questions, but in your answers. If you really want to address that itch, the knot in your stomach or the feeling that are being pulled in different directions, set aside some time to think about these questions.
Write down your answers, or talk out loud. Putting your thoughts into words really helps to articulate your ideas more clearly. For me, speaking into the dictation app on my phone helps to get my thoughts out of my head. I stumble a lot while I do it, but it really is “thinking out loud”.
Don’t approach this as a time-boxed to-do though. If you have not done this on your own before, it can take some time to unravel your thoughts and emotions.
For some, this exercise is like a pressure relief valve: it all comes out at once. Let it happen, just write it down or record your voice, stream of consciousness.
Others get stuck unraveling their thoughts. All is well. Just record what you find now and if you’re stuck, put it away and come back to it later.
- Who do I want to be
- What do I want to be doing?
- Where do I live?
- Who would be there with me or around me?
- How would it feel?
- What does your life look like when everything is going right?
Remember that these questions are prompts to get you going. Your OMG is an all-in-one image of your desired future life. Make sure to keep it LOFTY!
A few things that just really click for me:
” All is well. Just record what you find now and if you’re stuck, put it away and come back to it later.”
“What does your life look like when everything is going right?”
I think for some questions this is deeply personal and it would make sense to write and put away to revisit. I didn’t realize I do this informally – I tend to revisit this topic a lot with my husband and keep checking – are we doing the family goal, finding personal fulfillment, etc. It helps to have another’s point of view sometimes.
Good stuff, Arno!