Powerful Ways to Reach Those 2020 Goals!

Whether or not you are a habitual New Year’s Resolutions maker, it is inevitable that at the turn of a new year (or indeed a new decade), we are drawn to considering what we would like to happen, personally and professionally over the next twelve months and beyond. 

Effective goal setting is  both an art and a science and research has shown that it can make the difference between really seeing the results we want, and not.  It’s very rare that the most successful people among us with have not at some stage set aside time to to be strategic, rigorous and forensic about their goals.

So what goes into setting goals that actually happen?  What makes the difference between goals that sit, dusty and forgotten and those that come to life – achieved and even surpassed?

Five Steps to Powerful Goals

The steps below are based on a goal setting I exercise I run regularly with my coaching clients.  They work just as well when applied to personal goals as to professional ones.

The psychology of goal setting involves the use of different parts the brain.  The key to effective goal setting is giving ourselves the best opportunity to access all the different parts of the brain and thus ensuring we access the full power of the resource available to us.

  • The Big Picture

Firstly, it is imperative that we access the visionary elements of the brain.  The bits that allow us to create, dream, visualise.  And at this stage, the more audacious, the better.  Research shows a direct correlation between the level of stretch in a goal and our perception of obstacles that might get in our way.  The more challenging the goal, the less we importance we give the things that could prevent us from reaching it. 

Often for this part of the exercise, I will invite clients to draw, sculpt from modelling clay or even build from Lego their vision.  This allows us to start to access the right side of the brain and to be less restrictive about the goals we are setting for ourselves.  It doesn’t matter at this stage how whacky you get, or even if don’t understand half of what you create.  The key thing is to imagine success and then draw or create it as you see fit.  Meaning will come late in the exercise.

  • Visceral Experience

Once we have the big picture in mind, we can start to break down some of the individual elements and key into the senses.  Here we are looking at how we will feel about achieving this goal – what’s our emotional investment in it?  How important is it?  Why now? 

In your picture, what are you seeing, hearing, touching?  How real can you make this in your imagination?

  • Getting SMART

This will be a familiar construct for many of us who have had any management development input.  Setting SMART goals – those which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely – may seem a little tired, but there’s a reason the formula has been around for such a long time.  However, after decades of seeing SMART in practise, we now offer our clients a modified version:

Specific:  this is the part where we turn all the constituent parts of the BIG PICTURE into as detailed a plan as possible. If there is any room for doubt, where can you add clarity?  What more do you need to do to get clarity? 

Measurable:  how will you measure the success?  Will it be in financial gains? Market share?  Awards achieved? Qualifications?  Asset acquisition?

Attractive:  We replace Achievable with Attractive because for goals and ambitions to be acted upon and seen through, it is crucial that we are invested in them at an emotional level.  What makes this goal most attractive to you?  What could make it more so?

Relevant:  Another change here and Relevant replaces Realistic.  Think back to that big picture that sets the context for your goals.  How is the goal relevant to the overall vision you have?  How can it connect to where you are going longer term?  Why does it matter?

Timed / Timely:  Let’s talk dates.  When is this going to be done by?  Is now the right time to start it?  What check points do you want to build in along the way?

  • Chunk it Down

So, now we know where we are going (the Big Picture), we have given our subconscious the opportunity of aligning with it and our conscious, logical parts of the brain the chance to understand some of the detail.  Now it’s the HOW question.  How are we going to tackle this? What are the first steps?  What resources do we need in our toolkit?  What information do we need to find out?  What else do we need to do?  When will we make time for it?  Remember, all this is happening on a logical, conscious level, but meanwhile, we have already programmed our subconscious to work towards the vision we have created (whether we like it or know it or not!)

  • Consider the Bumps in the Road

Ok, even with the best laid plans, SMART goals, creative visions and psychology advantageous ambitions, we have to be ready to flex, change direction, negotiate obstacles and re-think the route.  The destination may stay the same, or it may change.  You can revisit this process at any time and as many times as is helpful.  Articulate the known risks but recognise also that other, less predictable challenges may befall you along the way and be prepared to accept this. 

Good luck!