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Monday, 26 January 2015

Goals are not sweeping generalisations

I love how the theme for the blogs emerge each week.

Last week stakeholder engagement was inspired by news of yet more organisations trampling all over suppliers with their payment terms and seemingly ignoring procurement's best advice. Stakeholder influencing and trust last year was sparked by a question on Twitter.

This week's emerging theme is goal setting - or more effectively achieving our goals.

As ever I'm not sure where it will end up by the end of the week but I'm starting with the words of Jillian Michaels that I scribbled down in the dark from a recent show I attended in Glasgow.

"Health is a sweeping generalisation"


You know me I love words - and of course she's right - health is a generalisation and nominalisation and therefore it means different things to different people and certainly isn't something tangible you can see or touch like an apple.

Which means if I say "I want to eat an apple a day" we all generally understand what I'm aiming to do. We might have different perceptions about the type of apple but we'd be in the the right ball park.


If I say however " I want to be healthy" we can end up with vastly different potential goals such as
  • Weight maintenance
  • Weight loss in next month
  • Weight loss more gradually over months
  • Size x in certain time frame
  • Fit into the little black dress for night out in x months 
  • Fit into swim suit for holiday
  • Fitness maintenance
  • Fitness improvement
  • Flexibility in knees to walk for a few hours
  • Pain reduction in knees (could go on about knees :-))
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Avoiding unhealthy foods
  • Having energy to do what I want every day
  • Improving wellness during year
  • Reducing the number of colds and other ailments
  • Not being so tired
  • Stress reduction
  • Laughter increased
  • Managing these 80% of the time
  • Managing these 20% of the time
These aren't all mutually exclusive, and some are end goals and others are means goals ie it's likely we'd be wanting to eat healthily in order to achieve some other goal rather than it being an end in its own right (although I concede not necessarily).

The point I'm making in this blog though came in another quote Jillian made:

"Where's the road map to nowhere?"

Just like we can't have health as a goal without knowing more about what that looks, sounds and feels like to us personally, we can't have any goals that involve any nominalisation or generalisation. So love, balance, health, relationship, communication, freedom, wealth, adventure etc all fit into that bracket.

If you have any goals - personally or professionally - then you need to understand your destination and then you need to decide on the route you're going to use to get there. (love that we can get the landscape metaphor* in to goal setting).

Blogs this week will explore how to move goals from generalisations to verbs and outcomes achieved.

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - when what you're doing isn't working.

* Landscaping Your Life is a process I use with clients which uses nature as our teacher. A number of the other tools I use in coaching and facilitation all got a mention last week - In business there's the Frameworks for Change coaching process and the Creative Whack Pack. In personal coaching sessions there's collage cards and the Transformation Game. All great tools for assisting us in releasing what's holding us back from achieving our goals. Or should that be all great at inspiring change inside and out - when what we're doing isn't working.

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