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How to set goals that count

Most of us know that we should be setting goals if we want to really move forward, but how do you create a motivating goal that will contin

ue to inspire you in the days and weeks ahead?

Goals can be huge or fairly small, but they should make a measurable difference to your life and you must be really clear why you want them. Great goals will be in your stretch zone – that magical place between comfort and panic. Make it too easy and you won’t bother, make it too hard and you’ll be so overwhelmed - you won’t bother.

You must believe deep down that you can achieve your goal or you won’t. As the famous Ford quote says so beautifully: ‘whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t dream big – I would urge you to push yourself to imagine a life that’s perfect in every way and set a deadline for when you want to live that life. But then don’t leave that goal hanging in the air, setting yourself up to fail. Break it down into the main areas you’ll need to work on and then set smaller goals for each. In this way you’re drawing a map from where you are now, to where you want to go, whether that will take a month or 15 years. Action breeds confidence.

In a nutshell, all goals should be:

  • Present or future focused – e.g. ‘It’s October 24th 2018 and profit has grown by 15% year on year’ You’ll then need to break this goal down into the different areas you’ll need to work on to achieve this, and set specific goals and journey goals within each – e.g. staff engagement, new business, business processes etc.

  • Specific and measurable – if you’re not sure whether you’ve achieved it or not, then it isn’t a good goal!

  • Within your control – a goal to win a particular pitch is laudable but probably ill advised because you have no control over the outcome, only your own output. You should instead ask yourself why you want to win that pitch and focus on breaking that down into measurable goals instead.

  • Positively framed – your unconscious doesn’t understand negative goals like ‘stop smoking’ or ‘reduce staff churn’. Like a small child it will focus on the dominant words instead and lead you towards them. Instead you need to state what it is you want, and your unconscious will then work behind the scenes to help you spot opportunities (it works in the same way as when you hear what you think is an unusual name, and suddenly you see and hear it everywhere!)

  • Dated – this is crucial. If you don’t have an end date on your goal then you won’t be motivated to achieve it. Much like that proposal you’ve been intending to write for the last six months. Give yourself a deadline that you’re accountable for and you’ll do it in a day.

There’s obviously a lot more to successful goal achievement than this (not least, huge amounts of hard work!) – but if you follow these simple guidelines and commit to action, holding yourself fully accountable, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

And if you work with a coach who challenges you to think bigger and in different ways to your usual patterns, there’ll be no stopping you!

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