How to Write Truly Motivating Goals

By: Shawn M. Driscoll

Early in our lives, our goals are pretty well set for us—we learn to walk, talk, and tie our shoes. We go to school, graduate, perhaps get a job, go to college or other training and develop some good relationships. In our early careers there is often a “career path" laid out for us. From these early experiences we learn to set goals from the outside-in.

At some point, usually after achieving all the “checklist goals" (you know…degree?-check, job?-check, nice car?-check, house?-check, promotion?-check, relationship/ family?-check…)—we crave something more. We may find ourselves "goal-less" for the first time in our lives. This sense of being directionless can be frustrating and confusing. After all, we had expected that all the hard work and accomplishment would bring us to a happy and fulfilled life. Quite naturally we’re a bit startled when we find ourselves thinking “there has to be something more out there".

Take heart. This isn’t a symbol of failure at all. It’s a sign of success! You have hit a critical point in your life …you have matured and grown enough that you are ready to start creating goals from the inside-out. Goals with meaning.

The feeling of wanting more is really your inner voice and wisdom wanting to express itself. Rather than looking “out there" for what’s next, it’s time to look inside. The “right goals" will find you once you honestly examine who you are, and clearly state where (and who) you want to be. Here’s how it works:

TAP INTO YOUR VALUES

You have enough life experience under your belt to know your values. Values are those things that draw you in—what you are naturally drawn to and are eager to experience. Those things that, when you experience them, you feel most like yourself. Some questions that may help you zero in on your core values include: What do you want to be known for? What do you stand for? What things excite or exhilarate you? What brings you joy?

Don’t expect that you are always living up to your values, but getting to the heart of them is a big step forward.

It’s also possible that your values have gotten clouded over by other things—needs, shoulds (those external things we ‘should’ do even if it’s not what we really want to do), wants, our role expectations (parent, employee, spouse, etc…) and obligations. To separate those things from your values, check in with yourself and see if you are really excited by it—even a little scared. If so, it is probably a value. If you did it and loved it when you were young, it may be a value. If you feel you need it to be happy or to achieve something else, it’s NOT a value but a need. Keep looking for the value. (Note: if you are struggling with this exercise, visit my website at www.succeedcoaching.com/tips.html for a Values Clarification exercise.)

CRAFT A COMPELLING VISION

Once you’ve tapped into your core values, you are ready to create a vision for yourself.
If this were a perfect world and your life were going perfectly, what would that look like? What would it feel like? What are you doing? What is your source of enjoyment? What kinds of people are in your life? What kinds of experiences are you having? Don’t let reality slip in just yet…allow yourself to dream, to connect with your hopes.

You may not see it all clearly yet. That’s ok. Write what you know to be true. Allow the rest to reveal itself in time. It will. You’ve already done a lot of the hard work in life. Set aside time to envision and experience the feeling of being inspired. This is the vision that will connect you to the “right goals" for this time in your life as well as allow your values to take center stage.

SET CLEAR GOALS

Now you can start to think about your goals. Take your vision and break it down paragraph by paragraph. What do you need to accomplish in order to fulfill the vision? Write it as specific results or outcomes you want. Use “to be" statements rather than ‘to do" statements. For example:

Instead of: Get a new job…….write: To be a technical writer in a mid-sized company by January 1, 2005 making $45,000 per year.

Instead of: Lose weight…..write: To be confident and comfortable in my new suit by November, 2004.

Use the SMART test to assess your goals…Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound. The more specific, measurable, and time bound you are, the more you will be motivated to do what it takes. And, of course, be realistic and set attainable (but stretch!) goals. Some things simply have limits. You can’t lose 30 lbs in a week or change careers in a few days.

ARE THESE THE RIGHT GOALS FOR ME? A SELF TEST:

So, how will you know when you’ve written goals from the inside-out? Here are a couple of ways to check …be honest….this is just between you and your piece of paper!

1.Are you ENERGIZED by them? When you think about achieving them are you excited? Do you feel like you can’t wait to get started?

2.Do you feel PASSIONATE about them? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen?

3.Do the goals, if achieved, give you the ability to share who you are as a person? Do they bring your unique talents and gifts to the forefront? Do you experience joy when working on them?

The right goals for you should simply “click". You’ll know they are right because they compel you to act. If not…examine if the goal is a ‘should’ –an ‘outside-in’ goal set based on external standards of who you should be? This kind of goal will not give the lasting sense of fulfillment. It will become a drain that requires grit and discipline without the energizing commitment needed to make it happen. If it doesn’t feel right to you be willing to let it go or to reframe it to something internally motivating. The right goals start to feel effortless (not easyComputer Technology Articles, mind you). Have fun!

Stop Struggling...Start Succeeding!
For more information on Coaching and Development programs contact Shawn Driscoll at 248 321-8390 or email Shawn@succeedcoaching.com

Motivation
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