Ever wonder why most people aren’t good at setting or achieving their personal and professional goals. This may partly be because popular goal-setting tactics like SMART goals are too superficial to bring lasting change. If you’re ready to change the way you approach goal setting and make this your big year, hang on because we’re going deep.
But first, a quick note on why goals and resolutions typically fail.
We fail to achieve our aspirations and goals because of a lack of clarity and emotional connection. Often the stated goal (“I’m going to lose 25 pounds.”) is nowhere close to the actual dream and new habits tend to drop off when we don’t see progress. This causes disappointment and soon enough we decide to just give up. This cycle continues over and over so for many people, it means having the same conversation with themselves every single year.
That’s enough about that. Let’s focus on how we can create goals and aspirations that allow you to achieve your best self.
The secret to achieving your goals: Paint a vivid picture that comes to life in your mind
Goals often end up as a sentence like, “I’m going to be the CEO.” Sounds nice on the surface but that’s just what it is: the superficial surface. Painting the picture involves exploring every aspect of the goal on emotional and sensory levels. It goes beyond writing it down—it’s about experiencing the vision you create for yourself and believing in it as if it already is you and your life.
But before the picture is painted, you must start with asking yourself how badly do you really want this goal to come to fruition? So, let’s start with some simple questions.
Let’s look at an example of becoming the CEO of your own company. Whether you’re currently a mail clerk or the CEO’s right-hand, this is a substantial goal. Now it’s question time. Quick tip: always use your five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste and sound) so that you really experience the picture you’re painting.
Ask yourself the following:
- Why is it important to me to become a CEO of my own business?
- What does it feel like being the CEO?
- What does being the CEO mean for me, my family, my community and my business?
- What does my day as CEO look like?
- How do people respond to me?
- How do I carry myself?
- How do I show up in the world?
- What kind of people do I know and associate with?
- What conversations do I have?
- How do I behave at work? At home?
- What does my lifestyle look like?
- What am I able to do?
- How do I present my work? To whom?
This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions but it’s enough to get you started. By the way, it’s important to write down all your answers to bring them to life. Going way beyond superficial goal setting gets to the heart of the matter which means you build an emotional connection with your aspirations and everything that goes with it. That emotional connection increases the likelihood of achievement.
Achieving goals and aspirations is not for the weak hearted
If you struggle to get vivid and paint a picture: that’s normal! This is a challenging process because it’s deeply personal. Facing what we truly want is scary. But even scarier is not tapping into our gifts and talents to reach our full potential. If jumping into the picture you painted sounds more fantastical than your logical brain can handle right now, don’t worry. I’ve got some more concrete steps for you.
After you paint the picture of your big goal or aspiration, here’s what to do next:
Create a vision board – You painted the picture in your mind and a vision board helps bring it to life. Print out pictures and create a collage of meaningful images that align to your painted picture. Put your vision board in the right place: it’s best to see it daily and refer to it often.
Act as if – Painting the picture gave you details of what life is like for the person living this goal. Let those details guide your current behavior and act as if you already are that person. When faced with decisions, pause and ask yourself a question. With our CEO example the question is, “What would I do as the CEO?” Acting “as if” you are already in that role is a powerful way to change your life.
Break the big goal down into small steps – The time for popular goal setting tactics is after you paint a compelling picture. Make a plan and keep it strategic. Assess the benefits of any tasks/actions before putting them on your list. For example, building a Twitter following keeps you busy, but is it more important than writing your elevator pitch? If you’re serious, you must avoid distractions.
Take massive action – Follow your plan relentlessly and adjust it as required. Doing tasks for a blah goal takes up time and uses a lot of energy but doing the work required for what you’re truly passionate about fuels your big goal!
Get a coach when the time is right – A coach helps you gain clarity about what you want and gives you the support you need while you go after it. It’s not actually easy working with a coach. A good coach challenges you to think deeply, approach your challenges differently than you’re used to and helps you keep your eyes on the prize. This is often uncomfortable in the moment but leads to excellent long-term results. When is the right time to get a coach? Your gut will tell you.
Achieving your goals and aspirations is possible especially when you use the methods I’ve shared here.
Hi, I’m Vicki Bradley, an executive coach in Toronto and the Founder and CEO of Women in Leadership Empowered.
I work with women pursuing success in executive leadership roles and the presidents and CEOs who understand that strong businesses are built with strong, diverse leadership.
WIL Empowered is a year-long program where we use all four aspects of leadership development: Coaching, Networking, Peer to peer mentorship and skills development. Our mission is to help women develop the skills, motivation and accountability required to succeed in their business and personal lives.
Take our five-minute leadership quiz to discover where your leadership skills are now and where you’d like them to be this time next year.