Our goals represent idealized outcomes we have not yet attained. They represent our most courageous desire - to be better than who we are today. Great goals inspire us and compel us to commit to doing the hard work of transforming ourselves.
Yet, only 20% of people create goals in the first place, and of that, 70% give up before they achieve the goal.
Why are so many goals abandoned?
The first challenge we need to overcome is that most of the goals we set for ourselves lack true meaning. They fail to capture the intrinsic value of why they are important to achieve in the first place. The second challenge with goals - even the most inspiring and compelling - is they often feel too large to tackle, and can take too long to accomplish, so we lose our motivation along the way. "They require a million little steps in between, and each of those little steps is an opportunity to fail", states Amy Cuddy, social psychologist and associate professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
So, how do you improve the odds of achieving big outcomes?
Know your why.
If you are about to invest your precious time, energy and resources, you had better be crystal clear on why it’s worth it. I work with already successful leaders who want to become even more successful. They want to become better bosses, they want to get promoted, they want to grow their business, they want great legacies. When we sit down to talk about their amazing goals, we start by visualizing what this future looks like, and why it’s so important to them.
We work to expand their view of who else may stand to benefit from them achieving their goal. We also explore the often unexplored - the consequences if nothing changes. Ultimately, we want no doubt in their mind that this is a goal worthy of the time, energy and resources it will require. It is only when our motivation to change is able to overcome our resistance to change, that we have a goal worthy of pursuing.
Consider asking yourself:
How did this come to be a goal for you? Is this your goal or someone else's?
What makes this important to you right now? How will all this matter 10 months from now?
What will you have once you’ve achieved this goal?
What do you control or have the ability to influence with respect to this goal?
What are the consequences if nothing changes? To you? To others?
Who stands to benefit from you achieving this goal and in what way(s)?
What are you willing to invest to make this happen?
What timeframe do I want to set for reaching this goal?
What will you need to defer or say no to create the space to work towards your goal?
Know your how.
Next, we visualize all the steps required to achieve the desired outcome. In the same way we have a training plan to run a marathon, we develop a plan of mini-milestones that move us towards our big outcome. By focusing on the process and designing for smaller wins, we sustain our motivation and drastically improve the odds of achieving our desired outcome. Finally, we anticipate any challenges we may face along the way and develop a plan for how we might overcome them.
Consider asking yourself:
What are the steps required to make this a success?
What are some challenges that may get in your way and how might you overcome them?
What behaviours will support you? What behaviours will get in the way?
What resources do you have available to support you?
How will you/we know you are making progress? How should we celebrate?
Move into action.
This is where the rubber hits the road, where we move out of intention and into action. This is the place where we begin the hard work of exchanging old behaviours, assumptions and limiting beliefs for new behaviours, beliefs and learning.
In next month’s Reach Your Peak, I will share with you my tips for sustaining actions and how to create tiny habits that lead to big outcomes.
On My Shelf
Why Goals Don’t Work and What to Do Instead, Marcia Reynolds
My work connects me with some pretty amazing humans. As clients, they have an insatiable curiosity about themselves and the impact they make. They harness the courage to move outside their comfort zone for the sake of being better and they make an unwavering commitment to their own personal transformation.
Reach Your Peak was born out of my vision to help my clients thrive and not just survive. As a leadership coach, I am often asked to suggest pieces of thought leadership and tools to support my client’s movement towards their desired outcomes. The purpose of this newsletter is to offer this content to a wider audience interested in expanding their learning edge.
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