Goal setting is a big part of January but so many of us are back on the booze/cigs/meat/sugar/wheat/dairy and sat on the sofa in our shiny, unused trainers by the end of the month.
So let me ask you this. WHAT exactly is your goal? Write it down. Look at it. On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited does it make you feel? Is it, well, a bit boring? A bit too…realistic?
It may come as surprise to you that the ‘What?’ doesn’t have to be realistic. Realistic is limiting. Realistic is dull. When we’re being realistic, we subconsciously put up obstacles and look for the problems. We’re actually capable of so much more than we realise and unless we can identify a stratospheric, spine tingling, heart soaring vision for ourselves, we’re much more likely to fail.
I recently worked with a group of business leaders around goal setting for the following year. We talked about what they wanted, what they had done so far, what resonated and the challenges they faced. One objective that came up was ‘I want to be a better leader.’ Pretty standard stuff right? But absolutely par for the course in the corporate world.
I asked this delegate the same question. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does this objective rock your world? The answer was a steady 5. We needed a much better ‘What?’ and we needed to know ‘Why?’
Why was it important that this person become a great leader? What would it mean? What would it give them? We finally got down to the nitty gritty, which was ‘I want to make a difference in the world.’ Now this was compelling. This was exciting. Being a better leader was just one of the many options to making a difference.
Once this group got out of the corporate mindset and reached for the stars, there was a noticeable rise in the vibe of the room. The conversations became much more positive. The body language more animated. If we can get completely engrossed in the ‘What?’ of a bigger, better, bolder more aspirational vision and back it up with plenty of ‘Why’s?’ then we’re onto something. It not only feels more exhilarating, but the options to achieve it are vast and varied and come to us with little or no effort.
One of my big life objectives or ‘What’s?’ is that I want to achieve financial freedom. Why? Because I want to be able to travel more. Why? To have better life experiences. Why? I want my children to have better life experiences. Why? I want to role model to my children that financial freedom is possible. Why? I want to make more memories. Why? I like to treat people… I could go on and on. And we should. The more ‘Why’s?’ we can get onto our lists, the more engaged and excited we become. Have that dream. Get right into the ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’ but not the ‘How?’ and ‘When?’ YET.
It can feel tricky to stay in the ‘What’ and the ‘Why?’ when that old human instinct for realism kicks in. The ‘How?’ and the ‘When?’ How will I do this? It’s too hard. When will it happen? It will take too long. I can’t do this. It might not work…
When we get into the ‘How?’ and the ‘When?’ too early, we start to doubt ourselves. We have limiting beliefs. We build barriers. We resist the dream and sometimes, we give up.
The ‘How?’ and the ‘When?’ will come when we are heart and soul, fully emerged into the ‘What?’ and the ‘Why?’ More importantly, they will come naturally and with ease. This is when I believe coaching is at its most powerful. We come to the conclusions ourselves. We focus on what we want to achieve and how to move forwards. We find our own answers. However, if we aren’t fully committed to the ‘What?’ and the ‘Why? the ‘How?’ and the ‘When?’ become a huge effort.
Let’s look at dry Jan. So many of us try to give up the booze after Christmas because we feel utterly rubbish. We’ve overindulged and feel tired, overweight and cranky. So we do dry Jan to move away from these feelings. But we fall off the wagon spectacularly because the ‘What?’ and the ‘Why?’ aren’t aspirational, exciting or in the least bit positive. In fact, the focus is wholly negative. Sound familiar? You might get to end of Jan with not a drop passing your lips, but I’ll bet my life it’s been a massive effort and there’s been a heap of resistance. All you’ll have noticed is people drinking and having a fabulous time everywhere you turn. You might not have even ventured out or seen anyone for the whole month. And if you have you’d have been seething with resentment at the G&T’s twinkling in your eye line.
If on the other hand we decide to do dry Jan and we have a compelling ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’ we are rising our vibe. The ‘What?’ is still giving up the booze but the ‘Why?’ is because we want a healthier body. Why? To look good in our clothes? Why? To make better food choices. Why? To look hot for that Birthday party/holiday/new love interest. Why? To feel good about ourselves etc etc. Once we become fully engrossed in the ‘What?’ and the ‘Why?’ the ‘How?’ and ‘When?’ appear like magic. There is very little effort. We can go out, have fun and decline that drink with ease, as we stay absolutely focused on the future and our positive, compelling and aspirational goals.
So, ask yourself WHAT exactly is it that I want and WHY do I want it? Then go to town. Realise as many life affirming ‘Why’s?’ as you can possibly imagine. Make it epic. Make it visionary. Make it aspirational. Put realism to one side for now and chase that dream. It’s worth noting that if you’re working on an objective of what you think you should want rather than what you actually want, this won’t work either. It needs to rock YOUR world and be completely your own.
If you feel yourself getting into resistance and doubt, then you’ll know you’ve got into the ‘How?’ and ‘When?’ too quickly. Take a deep breath and re-immerse yourself right back into the ‘What?’ and the ‘Why?’ The ‘How?’ and ‘When?’ will then, simply take care of themselves.
Get in touch today to get to grips with compelling ‘What?’ and ‘Why’s’ for you, your team or your organisation.