Achieving goals on your own terms
Own your goals
So we are often 'given' goals which are not our goals they are someone elses. Your partner/friend/colleague could say to you that you need to spend more time with them or family, eat more healthily, work less but these are not necessarily your outcomes but rather the wants of others.
How can we compromise the expectations of others with our own wants and needs? We might think they have a point of course and consider that they may have our best interests at heart.
One way is to have a think about whether there is even a slightest percentage of a chance that these are the goals that would be good for us to have and if so then how we can make them desirable. There is nothing wrong with creating outcomes that benefit others as well as yourself, but shaping them to fit into your own world view of how they can be achieved will mean you are more likely to put the work in!.
Link goals to values
There is nothing worse than trying to achieve something with your heart just not in it. What is the deeper goal you will get from achieving the first one? What will it give you and then what in turn will that give you. What is the personal appeal of this goal you are setting yourself, and can you take responsibility for linking it to that which has value to you?
Know the why
Why do we need them anyway?
Goal setting is important so you can describe your final objective and set steps that you will take along the way to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve as an end result.
If we don't know where we are going then how do we know when we have arrived there? We can define end goals as the final objective, such as wanting to to feel more confident speaking in public. In coaching I work with coachees to define the outcomes that they wish to see. We also work with performance goals, which define the specific performance required to enable movement towards the end goal, for example if we continue with the public speaking scenario this could be to disseminate information to a group of staff during a briefing.
Think outcome rather than goal
It might be preferable for the term goal to be defined as 'outcome' as goal can feel that it is coming from someone else's agenda. Outcome might feel more collaborative than a goal. I ask coachees to think of the outcomes that they want to see at the start of sessions and then we work on how we are going to get there. Reframe the word goal to feel more empowered.
Challenge motivation interfering thinking
You may have to consider any interfering thinking and maladaptive perfectionism that can creep in. I work a great deal with people who say that what they want to achieve feels insurmountable, such as setting up a new business, relocating, designing a workshop, or changing career.
If we identify the components that are making it feel this way then we often find that the level that we wish to achieve is just too challenging, too much of a stretch for our existing knowledge and skills base. This can then lead to frustration and procrastination.
Challenging some of the negative thinking interfering with motivation to achieve the desired outcomes and moving to a more positive, realistic and achievable frame of mind can help to sustain movivation. If we lower our expectations a little, feel more resilient when things don't go quite the way we imagine then we can keep focus on our goals in the face of challenge.
Another great tip with owning your goals on your own terms is to be flexible, if things don't at first get you where you want to go then there is nothing wrong with editing what you set out to do. The main thing is that you have enough vision to set them in the first place and it takes a confident person to say their goals have changed. My daughter recently changed her University placement as she no longer wanted to undertake that course and went in a totally different direction, I have never seen her so happy!
Sort out competing goals
At some point you might recognise that what you want and need may mean that you have goals that are competing and you are going round in circles. Listing the pros and cons of changing and the pros and cons of not changing, with a decisional balance tool, can help you to work out how to re prioritise what to work on first. Connnecting with others can help with this, as talking things through can help to see what is most important.
The power of the specific
How will you know when you have accomplished it if you have not make it clear enough in your own mind? If we make the goal specific then this helps to drive our behaviour to achieving it. We might need to break it down into immediate outcomes, intermediate outcomes and end outcomes. This helps us to measure where we are and how much more we need to do. I find attractive stationery can help with plotting things like timescales and resources needed!
Defining and working on your goals is much like a journey as there can be set backs. If you know your Alice in Wonderland we can use this as a metaphor. Alice had to go through a variety of different challenges and obtacles which included hitting her head on the ceiling along the way, but she never gave up! Remind yourself why you set these goals in the first place, and that it involved a conscious decision to re direct your life and face new adventures.
The importance of self efficacy
Like the Alice in Wonderland metaphor where Alice found herself in a variety of tricky situations involving cake, drink, caterpillars and the red queen, know that you are a valuable resource to finding solutions to obstacles to achieving your goals.
Turn these into opportunities moving you forward towards your desired outcomes.
Self efficacy means that you have belief in yourself which is important as a motivator to move towards your goal. We might need some encouragement from others to help with this, some reminders from ourself about what we have achieved in the past, and what we are capable of plus a healthy dose of optimism!
Use a strengths based approach
Think back to when you were determined to try something new, defined the outcomes you wanted to see and got there! What resources were in place, what kept you motivated and determined and what visualisation did you use? You want to get more of this! Let's apply these to our goals!
Is this what we really want?
Are we in two minds about it? We might feel that we are pulled in two directions, also know as cognitive dissonance or ambivalence, which means balancing competing agendas or ideas for moving forward. We want to say yes to that new promotion, for example, as that would move us in a direction desirable for us personally but it would mean relocating the whole family.
A way forward would be to really think about the why, apply consequential thinking to each option and present arguments for and against the change using a decisional balance.
If we use a metaphor of a see saw with arguments on each end, think about the reasoning for and against as sides of this see saw, and identify which side has more weight to help you to decide which goal is the one for you.
Visualise the end result
In coaching guided imagery can be helpful to improve goal focus, self efficacy and motivation in any given situation and enhance performance. Visualising means you picture yourself achieving the outcome you set out to do, at each step of the way. If you visualise your outcome in an affirming way and imagine yourself at each step getting closer to your goal, using time projection, to see yourself achieving it then this is a powerful tool.
The story we tell ourself
The power of reflection using metaphor, a metaphor can be defined as 'a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else' (Oxford languages), can help us to stay focused with goal orientated imagery. If we use a metaphor for example such as a character from a film or book, especially one that draws from your own experience and world view, it can help us to take a step back from our own lives in an objective way and empower us. After all if the character of your metaphor can do it and overcome obstacles along the way then you can too!
Seek out the story that empowers you.
Thank you for reading, I look forward to your thoughts and if you are interested in having a chat about how coaching could be helpful for you I offer a free 20 mins consultation.