Friday 1 November 2013

Goal setting

As my 51st birthday approaches I've taken some time to review my goals set this time last year for my 2nd half century. As a result of lack of progress with some of those goals I found time to review why that might be, and have returned to many books, youtube clips and DVDs about achieving goals.

For clarity the goals were around my life generally rather than smart and specific goals for work. Although I suspect many of this first list, of common features in the theories of how to achieve our goals, equally apply to personal and work goals and include:
  • Clarify what the goal is
  • Understand why the goal is important - why should you get out of bed to take action towards it. Often the bigger the 'why' the more motivation - so think more widely about the repercussions of achieving your goal or pick a bigger juicier goal. 
  • Clarify how you'll know you've achieved it - what will it look, sound and feel like - perhaps even having a vision or Pinterest board pulling these ideas together 
  • Clarify the goal isn't conditional on other people - for example a goal of a job with x becomes a goal of an enjoyable and challenging job, or a goal of a relationship with y becomes a goal of being open and ready to being in a loving relationship
  • Clarify and work on the beliefs that may hinder you achieving your goal - you know the ones along the lines of "I can't do it" or "I'm not good enough". Or the not so easy to notice beliefs that limit the amount of achievement, pleasure or satisfaction you can have at any one time. Or other beliefs about what you'll have to give up in order to achieve your goal. 
These have all been common features over the last fifteen years at the coaching or facilitated sessions I've worked with individuals and teams on, and of course when I've applied them to my own life too.

Whilst its important to not underestimate the power of undertaking these activities, especially the beliefs we have that stop us taking action, its often the next step that's the difficult part. That is knowing what to do, and taking the action in order to move from where you are to where you want to be. 

Interestingly its this next part that the different theorists have different views on - even if they're not all mutually exclusive - and can include:
  • Reminding yourself daily why you want to achieve your goal
  • Reminding yourself daily of what your goal is
  • Visualising yourself achieving your goal - emphasising how you'll feel and what you'll be doing, seeing and hearing 
  • Having gratitude for having already achieved the goal NOW
  • Having gratitude for each small step you've taken
  • Just having gratitude every day for everything
  • Acting as if you've already achieved the goal - making room in the bathroom/wardrobe for 'his or her' stuff or buying a new suit for the new job or viewing houses you'd like to buy 
  • Not thinking, saying or acting as if its anything other than possible and your right to achieve the goal
  • Concentrating on 'what' you want and allow the 'how' to materialise later
  • Identifying a detailed action plan to achieve it and monitoring progress regularly
  • Having a buddy who keeps you accountable to your action plan 
  • Noticing the ways you sabotage achieving your goals and releasing the pattern
  • Just making sure you take the first action step NOW - getting momentum being the biggest hurdle to achieving your goals
  • Using affirmations to remind yourself you can achieve your goal
  • Once you've clearly expressed your goal, forgetting about it and allowing your unconscious actions to move you towards it
  • Letting go of your expectations and attachments to it being achieved in a certain way - ie there are many different solutions to achieving your goal. Don't get stuck on only one of them as you may miss the other easier ways of getting there
  • Being in a state of wonder about how life would be like once you've achieved your goal
  • Concentrating on being of service to others and trusting that as you give you will receive 
Perhaps in coaching sessions for others its always been easier to pick which of these I think most likely to work for that individual or team - not so easy for myself.

This week I found an additional action that for me personally has made such a HUGE difference.
  • Making a commitment - ie stating the goal as ... "I commit to ......" (Note the lack of use of 'want' 'need' 'desire' 'dream' 'would like' 'hope' or 'pray' or lack of any energy of 'desperation' 'fear' 'lack' or 'failure') 
Committing to my goals has:
  • Enabled the action plans to become a whole lot clearer
  • Provided the inspiration to change and therefore provided the motivation to take action
  • Alerted ever fibre of my being of the need to achieve my goals. Which has made it a necessity to find ways of achieving them. It's as if they've gone from green to red on a RAG report.
  • Set my filters to high alert to notice the opportunities to achieve my goals (will follow up in a later blog about the impact our filtering of the world has on our experience of it - in the mean time just set an intention to notice cars with coloured alloys and notice what you notice about the frequency you notice them)
  • Brought in a more peaceful energy about my belief in me achieving my goals - its as if because I'm now 'committed' then of course I'll achieve them 
I'm wondering if you've also had any ahhas when achieving your goals and discovered the difference that makes the difference to your success? If so please do share in comments below as I'd suggest different strategies work at different times for different types of goal - so a more comprehensive list to reflect on will always use useful.

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out in purchasing, procurement and strategic sourcing 

I'll also write a blog next week on the different ways the Landscaping your life process, where I use nature as our teacher, can be used to assist with goal setting. For now you can find out more about it on Facebook & Pinterest