My guess is you meet a lot of your goals – the ones at work. Personal goals, or the professional stretch goals that someone else isn’t holding us accountable for probably take a lot longer if they happen at all. I’m going to offer a series of tips, things to think about, and ways to approach your goals to heighten the likelihood of your success. Some of them will be light and easy, some will go deeper and be more challenging.
This first one is going to be a bit of a doozy. It can be heavy and emotionally difficult. But it’s so important, so helpful, and so useful. Fair warning.
Tip 1: Get to the goal beneath your goal
Most of our goals are actually fairly common. Get a promotion. Exercise more. Write a book. Eat better. Get home by dinner time.
But. These aren’t our real goals. Let me explain.
Even more important than our stated goals (those accomplishments we’ve been thinking our goals are) is to identify *why* we want a particular goal. Identifying the underlying reason for your stated goal unlocks your true goal and sheds light on the path you’ve identified to get you there. This “why” is our real goal. The goal we announced (Write a book!) is more of an action item that we think will get us our real goal.
Let’s look at some examples.
1. Lose weight. Let’s say your stated goal is to lose an amount of weight. Asking yourself why you want to lose weight, you might realize that you’re hoping to feel more connected to yourself or your spouse. Your real goal in that scenario is connection. Losing weight is an action item to get to your goal.
Or perhaps the reason for your goal is more about feeling confident. And what would feeling confident get you? Maybe you think it would provide you the opportunity to feel good about yourself. Your real goal is to feel good about yourself and losing weight is an action item.
2. Get a promotion. Maybe your stated goal is to get the next promotion at work. When you ask yourself what that promotion will bring to you, perhaps your answer centers around getting a raise. Asking yourself why a raise is important might reveal something practical like having enough money to pay your bills. If that is the case your goal may be financial freedom, and the promotion is the action item you’ve associated with success for that goal.
Perhaps your answer didn’t center around your financial freedom, but instead was focused on the prestige that comes with a new title. Digging into why you want the title, you might realize you associate professional success with worthiness as a person. Your real goal in this scenario wouldn’t be the promotion, it would be to feel worthy.
Do you see where I’m going with these examples? Your stated goals are often surface level indicators of what you want to feel or experience. And they may not be the best or most direct way to achieve your underlying goal. Identifying the root desire will allow you to consciously choose what the best action items to achieve your goal are. Maybe the best action item is therapy. Maybe it’s a budget. Maybe it *is* that promotion. Without doing the work, you’ll never know. The danger in not knowing is that you’ll spend all kinds of time, effort and resources to achieve your goal and then you play the waiting game to find out if it worked or not. Do you feel satisfied? Are you content? Or is there something else, nagging below the surface, trying to be noticed?
After you’ve identified your real goal, your next step is to brainstorm action items to get you there. There are so many more options than you first realize! For instance, to achieve financial freedom you could work on getting a promotion. You could also budget your money, find some expenses you can cut (is it time for a roommate? Brown bag lunches? Second hand clothes?), take an interest in a less expensive hobby, take an honest look at how your current spending aligns with what is important to you, sell some things, examine what you really need financially, etc.
Are you with me? Is this making sense?
Try it. Take some time to examine one of your goals. Why do you want it? What will it bring you? Some people can do this examination on their own, and often find writing or journaling helpful. Other people find they’d rather use a coach to help them talk through their why. Whatever method you use, dive in and do the work to figure out what you’re really wanting to add in your life. If you go deep it, will be worth it.
Ask yourself: What will accomplishing this goal do for me? Where am I hoping it takes me? What will it mean when I complete this goal?
Come back and share with us what you discover!!
If you have trouble with this exercise, consider getting the help of a coach. Coaches are great at helping you uncover the real goals beneath your stated goals.
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