When I’m working with business clients, our initial sessions often start with a general discussion, and end with the identification of a significant goal or future aspiration. When we set goals it’s really important to define the ‘End Goal’ or ‘Outcome’ you want, that part is straight-forward and fairly common in coaching. What’s not so common are the steps we define after the goal, but they are equally important. Most of us will define a goal and then get started on the actions and ‘to do’ lists, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A common problem when we’re striving for significant goals or future aspirations, is that they take time, and a lot of action to achieve. Becoming fatigued with the actions is all too common a problem when we are working towards a long-term goal. How can you pro-actively overcome this issue?
A principle I teach my clients is the What, Why, Who, How questioning process. It’s as simple as it sounds, but the key is to ask those questions in that order before you start with actions or ‘to do’ lists. If you take this approach you give yourself a level of clarity, focus and motivation that sets you up for the long-term, and gives you a clear ‘purpose’ to return to if you find yourself feeling ‘goal fatigued’.
Here’s how it works:
What… is my specific future goal or aspiration?
“Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want” T. Harv Eker
This should be the natural starting point, but it’s surprising how many of us focus on what we fear most, or what we want to avoid. It’s an easy trap to fall into. When setting goals, we need to be absolutely clear on what we are aiming for and by when. By defining, with certainty, the end goal or outcome we are going to achieve, and when we will achieve it, we create a shift in our thinking and our commitment to the goal. Even if you aren’t completely certain you can achieve it in the time frame you originally set out, the greater stretch you set, the more engaged you will be. Write it down, it’s surprising how differently we experience and commit to something once it’s in writing.
Why…. is it important to me, personally?
“Don’t look for motivation. Find your ‘Why’, then no excuses will come between you and your goals” Gymaholic
Finding out ‘Why’ you want your goal is as important as the goal itself. Your ‘Why’ is the fuel that keeps you motivated when the going gets tough and you encounter the inevitable challenges and hurdles you face in the pursuit of any worthwhile goal. The more personal and powerful your ‘reasons why’ the greater likelihood you will go the distance and do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Who…. do I need to become to achieve my goal?
“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are” Mas de Pree
This is a distinction that is all too often missed in goal setting. When you are striving to create a step-change and achieve a significant goal, very often you will need to make a shift in your thinking, behaviours, habits and even your character. You may have to ‘tap into’ a level of courage, bravery and tenacity that goes way beyond your past beliefs and sense of self. By asking “Who do I need to become?” you start the process of self-reflection and of self-improvement. Once you’ve defined “Who” that person is, their thoughts, habits and character, it gives your unconscious mind a target to aim for. This ‘new identity’ may feel like it’s a long way off in the distance, if so, now is the time to start moving forwards. Every small step in the direction of that ‘new improved you’ is a positive move in the right direction.
How… do I create the right action plan to achieve my goal?
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs” Henry Ford
With this deliberate focus on the goal, your ‘why’ and ‘who’ you will become, you’re ready to take actions. The actions you take will now be clearer, your motivation will be greater and your willingness to stay the course in the long term will dramatically increase your chances of reaching your goal. Working from the ‘Goal’ backwards to today, capture the key actions you need to take to progress through each step. By breaking down the steps you need to take into small everyday actions you will make continual progress towards your goal. Take action every day, move forward every day. Recognise yourself the advances you make, take time to reflect on how far you’ve come, every day. Everything is a work in progress, learn to enjoy the journey.
Remember if you do feel ‘goal fatigue’ at any point, revisit your ‘reason why’. That alone will reinvigorate you and help you find your original motivation to succeed.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, make simple compelling notes to yourself for each of them. Keep it somewhere you will see it every day. Share it with family, friends, colleagues the more your speak about your goal the more comfortable you will get with it and the easier you will find it is to change. Celebrate every small step along the way.
Wishing you good luck and every future success.
Justin Leigh is an accredited Executive Coach and Leadership Mentor. He works with Senior Leaders to develop High Performance organisations. His passion is helping people to become the best they can be. He has worked for large corporations for over 20 years and is experienced in Leadership, Business, Sales & Marketing.
Justin is the Managing Director of Focus4growth Ltd. He can be reached at the following address:
email: [email protected]
LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/justin-leigh-1623224/