Goal Setting – Moving the Chains

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Sports metaphors can get tiring, I know that. However, there is one analogy  I can never get past when I think about making progress toward a goal. That phrase is “move the chains”.

220px-1st_down_measurement_at_UCLA_at_Cal_10-25-08

1st down measurement-UCLA at Cal 10-25-08

Let me get everyone on the same page. In American football, there is an actual chain that is used to measure ten (10) yards; that’s 30 feet. The chief rule of the game is that when your team has the ball, you get 4 tries to move the ball that 10 yards. If, in those 4 tries, you move 10 yards or further without scoring, you get a new set of tries to move the next 10 yards. If you fail in 4 tries, the other team gets the ball.

Of course the big goal is to score a touchdown and get 6 points.

When a coach wants his team to focus on their basic moves and plays, all he asks them to do is to “move the chains”. By definition, if you can keep moving the chains, you will score!

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Any goal we can set is much like the touchdown in football. While that is the ultimate achievement, there are many ways to break down the steps to reaching the goal. The key is whether or not we can make progress and work our way toward the goal. We need to move the chains as we work toward a new goal.

Just like in football, if one play does not work well, we need to try a different one. If we keep doing the same thing, the opposing forces we face will routinely stop the advance and we have no progress. Eventually our window of opportunity (in this case the 4 tries) runs out. We get stopped.

When you are making plans to reach a goal, think first about the many ways you might reach that goal. Plot out the strategy and even the tactics you might need to take to build progress.

Momentum can be your friend. By achieving small victories, you build progress. Keep moving the chains. Remember, by definition, if you can keep moving the chains, you will score!

Question: What ways do you use to move the chains?