Goal setting is one of my passions and I love supporting people to achieve a fabulous goal they’ve created, with enthusiasm and energy.
But How? Well, is a series of posts about goals. Firstly, my favourite definition of a GOAL is
“something you intend to achieve by your own actions”.
If we set a goal, it’s great to actually WANT to do it (another W). Surely this comes built in? Well – hopefully! However there are many times that we set ourselves a goal and somehow it doesn’t eventuate. Even if we think we want it. Even if we think it’s ‘good for us’. Even if the rest of the world seems to think it’s important. We may have lost the “intention to achieve” it element.
One way to improve this situation is to determine our own personal “Why”. To carefully articulate the reasons we, individually, are choosing this particular goal.
What does this do? It shifts the rationale from being EXTERNAL (science/research/’everyone’ says I should do it) to INTERNAL, and inevitably connects it to your values (I want this because I believe it will…). Values are like beacons and sign posts. They highlight our priorities, indicate important junctions and ultimately guide our way, often making decisions easier.
How can anyone do this?
- Well, take out a piece of paper/ white board/ computer. Then think of a goal you are working on, or have let slip, or have never gotten around to.
- Down the left hand side of the page, list all of the reasons you would like to achieve this goal, leaving space between each one. Come up with at least 5 reasons.
- When you’re done, go back and for each Reason, ask yourself “why do I want that? How will I benefit from it?”. You can have as many dot points as you like for each reason.
- Next, for each dot point, again ask yourself exactly the same question: “why do I want that? What are the benefits?”. You may find some things you’re writing down are being repeated for different dot points. No matter, it’s important to write the same thing down as many times as it comes up for you.
- Once more, repeat this process for each thing you’re written down. You’ll now have four columns.
If you like, you can do it again, however when reasons/benefits start to repeat, you’re on the right track (it’s like ‘saturation’ for anyone familiar with qualitative research process!).
If you get stuck for ideas, ask yourself the following questions:
– how might this benefit me caring for myself, and being the best version of myself (physically, mentally, emotionally)?
– how might this benefit the running of my household?
– how might this benefit me financially?
– how might this benefit me in my study/work/volunteering?
– how might this benefit me socially and in my friendships?
– how might this benefit me as a partner/parent/sibling/grandparent/family member and my family life?
– how might this benefit my participation in my leisure/fun activities and my community?
– how might this benefit my self-concept?
- Have a look down your final column and see what’s there. When reasons start reappearing, you may have stumbled over one or more of your values. Maybe you were aware of it, maybe not! The last column has usually shifted focus to internally held reasons rather than the overtly obvious from “to lose weight” to “having more energy” to “being able to play in the back yard and keep up with my children” to “being the best parent I can be”. Make a summary list of the themes that have emerged in the final column. Write them in big letters somewhere handy.
Now – does this shift your motivation towards achieving this goal? Does it now pull you towards it, rather than feeling pushed? If so, your mission has been achieved – when you understand the why, you have a direction. You can then work out the How (more on that in future posts).
Having at least one internally-generated reason for having a goal, which aligns with your personal values, is one of the easiest ways to ensure you take action and maintain your enthusiasm.