I wish you and Happy and Healthy New Year, with lots of personal fulfillment and professional achievements. I wish you to be intentional in what you want to create in your life, business, career, relationship….
I want to start the year by sharing a few things around Goal Setting (sorry this is a rather long one).
First, I don’t like to do as everyone and part of me didn’t want to talk about goals because that’s what everyone is talking about at the moment, and yet, as I thought about it, I couldn’t find a reason good enough to not talk about it, because goal setting is really important if you want to create a life by design where you are intentional about what you want and how to get it, as opposed to a life by default where you just go where life takes you.
Note 1: there is nothing wrong with the latter, but I find it so much more exciting and inspiring to create the life I (and my family) want.
Note 2: we might think we are in control and intentional in our lives but what I discovered when engaging in my coaching journey is that there is much, much, much (yes 3 times) more that we can choose and create than we think.
There is no right way to set goals and follow through and I’ll just share some pieces of information and experience to hopefully help you find your own way to set a direction for this new year. My perspective is that Goals are just a tool as part of the Strategy to get from where we are in the Present, to our Vision. And to get to our Vision, we also need to work on our Mindset. So here we go with Vision, Strategy and Mindset.
To create your vision, you may ask yourself 2 very simple questions:
- What would you like? 5, 10, 20 years from now? No censorship. We are pretty good at envisioning what we think we can get but not what we really want.
- What would having that do for you? This is a key question to i) know why you are doing this ii) uncover some hidden desire/needs that you can actually start working on right now, without waiting to have achieved you primary goal/vision.
- Break down: your vision and long term goals into yearly goals, then into quarterly goals, and then in weekly/daily actions and habits. And don’t be attached to achieving the plan exactly how it is (see further in this post). The idea is to see that you can actually bridge the gap between now and your vision, and to start/continue to move into that direction.
- Set 90 days goals: I like this time frame. Yearly goals are too far away and are less manageable. With 90 days goals, I can tweak my strategy/direction 4 times a year and take actions that are more focused.
- Look at every area of your life: business, finance, health, relationships, spiritual, fun. How satisfied are you in each of these? Which ones do you want to focus on in the next 90 days. You can use the Wheel of Life.
- Outcome Goals vs Process Goals
- An outcome goal is a goal focused on a result: I will get X clients, I will make X amount of money, I will change job, I will run a marathon (in a certain time) etc… These goals are inspiring, motivating but are also adding pressure since we might feel we have to achieve them and if we don’t, it means we failed and we beat ourselves up. And these goals are usually not 100% in our control.
- A process goal is a goal focused on a recurring action such as: I will meet X new people per week, I will interview X persons per month about a certain job type, I will run X times a week. These goals are usually in our full control and are part of the strategy to achieve our outcome goals and Vision.
I personally like to mix inspiring motivating outcome goals and practical process goals.
- Simplification/prioritization: if you have too many goals, simplify and prioritize, at least for the short term. Yes, it can be hard, it means you have to say No to some things…
- Structure: writing the goals down is great, but what will have us achieve them is to take action. To do so, I like to set a clear structure, which took different forms throughout the years: it may be a short-term plan in an excel file, with goals in horizontal and weeks in vertical, putting the intended results and then the needed actions backwards, then reviewing this every week to check how it went and plan for the next one. IT may be by setting a regular weekly structure (every week looks the same, in my case, with time to write, time to coach, time to connect, time to learn/train etc…). Or it might be using some apps (I’m sure there are tens of them out there). Eventually, I found morning and end of the day routines help staying intentional, focused and on track, with a positive experience.
- Follow-up, track and evaluate: I feel resistance to do that because, to be honest, it has me face reality sometime (am I putting in the work, the time, the energy, am I getting results, etc.?) but this is key.
- Support: we are humans and we are wired to not change (this brings uncertainty and our brain doesn’t like that), we have fears, doubts, ups and downs and we sometime don’t even clearly know what we want. If you want to be efficient, move on faster and further, get some support: be part of a support group, hire a coach, use accountability partners (although the impact is limited to … accountability 😊).
Possibility: our brain is very good at killing any possibility as soon as it is born. Where there is possibility, there is fear, uncertainty. So, your job is to keep the possibility alive. I had to practice being present to the possibility for myself and for my clients. When you work on your vision, don’t censor anything, write down what you really want (another way to frame it can be: “wouldn’t it be cool if …”) and then, when your brain starts to find all the reasons why it’s impossible, when you can’t find the path to get there right now, don’t kill the possibility, just leave it there and start taking tiny steps in that direction. Live in possibility.
The 5 stages of behavioral changes:
Jim Prochaska and his colleagues at the University of Rhode Island defined 5 stages in change: precontemplation (not ready, not aware, con’s are higher than the pro’s), contemplation (on the Fence, pro’s and con’s compensate themselves), preparation (Getting ready, pro’s start to outweigh the con’s), Action (doing it) and Maintenance (maintaining it). Research shows that 80% of us are in precontemplation or contemplation phase, no surprise it is so hard to change and achieve our goals.
2 main factors influence our ability to change (and therefore achieve our goals): Motivation (how bad do you want it?) and Confidence (how much do you believe in your ability to achieve it?)
Here is a graph from Margaret Moore which shows that to be more likely to change (achieve your goal), you need to be above 6 in motivation and confidence.
So, when setting a goal, check-in with yourself: How motivated are you? and how confident you can achieve it are you? If you are not confident enough, ask yourself what do you need to feel more confident? You might also want to start with things where your confidence is higher, because achieving some goals will increase your confidence in being able to achieve other goals. And if you are not motivated enough, read the next paragraph.
3 sorts of motivations:
- External: someone asking/telling you to do something. Obviously, this sort of motivation only is very limited.
- Guilt (I should do this): this one might work but won’t lead to sustainable engagement.
- Intrinsic (you really want to) à this is what you want to tap into. To do so, finding a clear WHY and asking yourself what will achieving your goal do for you will help.
Attached / Resigned cycle vs Commitment
When we set a goal, we are usually attached to achieving it no matter what, which might add some pressure or feel stressed when setting these goals. We might think that if we don’t achieve them, we are losers, we beat ourselves up and it will decrease our confidence. We move on to achieve them and then, when we don’t see the result we expect, when we have setbacks, when the deadline approaches, we fall right away into resignation. We don’t believe we can achieve them any more.
What I found very helpful was to come from a place somewhere else than on the attachment/resignation line, a place of Commitment. What are you committed to, no matter what and as long as the possibility exists? If you stay committed to something beyond your goals, 5, 10, 20 years from now (serving people, developing yourself, living an extraordinary life, etc…) and committed to do your work day after day, no matter if you reach your goal or not, you’ll be in a far better place. You’ll have created new things, you’ll have new experience, you’ll have grown. At the end of the day, no matter if you failed or not, you’ll have given it all. To me, Commitment is such a powerful thing.
Being vs Doing
We often think about what we need TO DO to achieve our goals, which is of course necessary, but rarely do we think about who we need to BE or BECOME: how do we show up in the world, what are our internal limiting beliefs, what are our fears, how our being is aligned with our doing? I found working on who I be in the world has been crucial for me so far. As I shared in my last 2018 post, I have achieved things in the past year but the most important, which outweigh the frustration to not have achieved more, is that I can feel some internal shifts which are the foundation for an even better year.
That’s it and that was long enough, so I will leave you with some questions: what do you want to create this year and further down the road? What would excite you most? What strategy are you going to set up, what mindset will you have? What support will you get?