Stagnation awaits when you don’t set goals
It’s easy to get hyped up with the idea of setting goals. We hear statistics like 3% of Harvard MBA graduates who wrote down their goals earn ten times as much as the other 97% put together, and we dash off to grab a pen and paper. We pretty much intrinsically know that setting goals is the driving force behind motivation and success.
But maybe the real trick in understanding why goals are so important lies in understanding what happens when you don’t set them.
It can be summed up in one word: aimlessness. Yes, you might end up running a successful business. You might complete that marathon before you’re 50. However, you might not if you don’t actually have a plan for getting there. And that’s what a goal is about.
A goal sets the destination. Without the destination, you cannot create a road map. You might well end up at that point, but it’ll be a meandering journey and one left to chance. You could, very easily, end up stagnated, going round and round in circles, and never actually getting anywhere.
That’s why I help my clients identify and set their goals through business coaching. It means we’ve got the ability to work out the map. Yes, we may come across a set of roadworks requiring a detour, but with a map we can always get back on track.
Goal setting that really works
The trick is to take a structured and comprehensive approach to goal-setting. You can’t just jump into it. Before you even get to putting pen to paper to spell out those goals, you need to do some reflection.
Goals that actually work, in the way you hope them to, are ones which are borne out of reflection. They become your goals because you’ve taken time to really think about your values, motivations, skills and hopes. Whilst I could set myself the goal of becoming an Olympic gymnast by 2026, and that fits the bill of being a specific and time-defined goal, I have zero interest (or frankly capability!). So, I could write it down as many times as I like; it wouldn’t work for me!
But reflecting is difficult. It’s always easier to do with a guide and a support, in the shape of a coach. It may be uncomfortable thinking at time, or raise questions about who you thought you were. It’s also essential, because it is through reflecting on which goals really matter to you, that you begin to harness the motivation you need to achieve them over the longer-term.
Using your goals to create a roadmap As such, identifying your goals takes time. They will probably also adapt and change over time. That’s ok. The point is; they get you going. They get you moving towards the future in an intentional way.
This process doesn’t have to be laborious. If you spend too long on this stage, there’s not enough time, effort and motivation left for actually creating the road map. You could even set your goals in just one word.
My theory is that it isn’t just setting the goal that matters. It’s then combining that with a road map for how you will achieve it. With my coaching clients, this is where we break down what is needed to get from where you are now, to where you want to be. Goal-setting identifies the ‘where’, it’s now our job to identify the ‘how’. You need to uncover things such as what skills you are missing, who you need in your network, how to tackle issues such as lack of confidence. These become the stepping stones to achieving the goal.
How to stick to the road map The last bit of the puzzle is the knowledge of how to stick to the road map. There are times when you will wander off the track to look at the sights. What matters is that you get back on the road again.
Firstly, your motivation should be fairly rock solid if you went through the reflective process of goal-setting.
Secondly, by breaking the goal down into chunks, it is more manageable.
Thirdly, you’ll need a support squad. This may take the form of friends, family and colleagues. However, a business coach will be there reliably, and in a highly focused way.
Lastly, you’ll need to embrace reflection all along, and not just at the goal setting stage. As the journey goes on, reflection helps you to see where stumbling blocks remain. Reflection will help you adjust the route so that you can still achieve the goal.
Goals matter The reality is that without setting goals, and without creating an accompanying road map, you’re on a fast road to nowhere.
Want help identifying and setting your goals? Coaching is the goal-setting development tool you need.