Goals. We know we need them. We understand they need to be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. And we know that it's important to state our goals positively - saying what we do want to achieve, rather than what we don't.
But I've been wondering... What's the step on from that? What are the critical elements that lift our chances of goal success from moderate, to highly likely? And as I've pondered, I've pinpointed five key themes that have made a difference to my goal setting over the years. And perhaps these will resonate with you too?
1 "Know your why like your own name, and repeat it often "
A wise man (well, in fact, an ex-boss of mine) introduced me to the work of Stephen Covey, and in particular the concept of "Begin with the end in mind". Be clear about where you want to get to, and it will greatly increase your chances of getting there. Most of us know the importance of having goals. But I think what we sometimes omit to truly consider and understand is our 'why'. Not just what do we want to achieve, but why do we want to achieve it? What will it enable us to do or to be?
When I set up my own learning, development & coaching business, I developed myself a Vision Board full of pictures and words that represented this goal for me. To remind myself every day of what I wanted to achieve and (importantly) why. It depicts what my goal would look like, sound like, feel like, and be like. And as I study this vision board now - I can truly see how far I have come, what I have genuinely achieved, and what has motivated me every day. The facilitation, coaching & projects I am involved with. The people I am able to spend time with. How I make a difference to others. It's really powerful stuff! The only outstanding element is a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro... and I've got 2018 ear-marked for that...
So that's definitely been a key learning point around goals for me - know your 'why' and find a way to keep that top of your mind to motivate and encourage you - especially through the tougher times.
2 "The more of me I be, the clearer I can see" - Rachel Archelaus
As a coach and learning professional, I know the importance of values. They are fundamental to who we are. They shape what we think. How we feel. How we behave. What we achieve. And yet even armed with this knowledge, I had some powerful personal learning around this just recently.
I was in a coaching supervision session with an excellent peer coach of mine, and was exploring a new area I was looking to expand into with my business, and which I hadn't really done anything about yet. I had kept putting it off and really wanted to get motivated. So we discussed what actions I had taken, and what else I could do, in a practical way. And then she asked me a question around what was stopping me taking action. And it hit me like a freight train... I was experiencing a real clash in terms of my values. It was an area I was looking to expand into because I felt I should do it, rather than because I was passionate about it. And I consequently didn't feel able to be my authentic self, nor frankly feel very motivated. Brilliant insight for me on making my goals congruent with my values, which is now shaping my goals for 2017 and how I plan to take my business forward...
So ensure you know and understand your own values, and be clear how they align with your goals.
3 "I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things" - Mother Teresa
When I started on my exciting journey into self-employment, I remember thinking, "it's all down to me now". I am CEO, Finance Director, Marketing Director and Operations Director, all in one.
And whilst this is of course true on one level - I am 100% responsible for making it work - what I've also learnt is that this doesn't mean I have to do everything myself. It's OK (and in fact essential!) to ask and allow others to help me get there. Whether that's been with things like accounts, marketing, branding, getting some great coaching & mentoring, or working in partnership with others on tenders.
We can sometimes feel like asking others for help is a weakness. But what I've learnt is that people are really willing to help, and although I could probably do most things very capably myself, someone who specialises in an area will usually do a much better (and quicker) job, than I ever could. Or be able to give me that nugget of advice I might take years to discover.... Allowing me the time to focus my energies on the learning design & delivery, coaching and team development stuff I love to do - and where I make the biggest difference towards achieving my goal.
Asking and allowing others to help you achieve your goals - another key to goal success.
4 "All life is an experiment" - Oliver Wendall Holmes
Mistakes are good. This has been another great piece of learning for me when it comes to testing out different ways of achieving my goals. Tricky though when you're a bit of a self-confessed perfectionist!
But it truly is only by being willing to experiment, and by things not always working perfectly, that we can then capture the learnings and use these to shape our next attempt. So often our fear of failure can paralyse us into not taking any action at all. But if we do nothing, we are guaranteed not to achieve your goal!
Personally I've certainly learnt the most from mistakes I've made during my career. And uncomfortable as those experiences sometimes were, without a doubt they have now made me much better equipped to succeed and achieve my goals in the long run.
So be willing to take a risk and fail - truly key to achieving goal success.
5 “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
Which leads me nicely on to my final learning point for increasing our chances of achieving our goals...
Perseverance. Keeping going, even when things get tough. Never giving up. And when something doesn't work, picking yourself up, dusting yourself down, and trying something different. And for me that's where having all of the other tools above at my disposal has really helped. Knowing my 'why'. Being true to my values. Asking for and accepting help from others. And being willing to get it wrong and do it differently next time.
Goals are undoubtedly powerful things. They give us focus, keep us motivated, and enable us to achieve more than we think is possible. Because in the end, as Mark Twain reminds us, "20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover".