Today, I want to get back to basics and explore the question: what makes a great goal? This might seem a little bit obvious, but if coaching has taught me anything it’s this: not all goals are created equal. When it comes to setting and successfully achieving goals, there’s much more to it than simply picking something we want to do and feeling motivated. We have to go a little deeper.

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Process driven

Inspiring

Specific & Measurable

There are so many things we think we ‘should’ achieve. In my experience, tirelessly working based on ‘shoulds’ is a recipe for disaster. External validation as a sole motivator isn’t long-lasting; or even if we receive that approval from others, the result rarely feels like we had hoped for. If we want to stay motivated and feel great once we achieve a goal, it must be inspiring to us.

Here are some questions to guide you on the right track to creating your own inspiration:

  • When do I feel at my best?
  • What feels missing from my life?
  • What really matters to me?
  • What is my heart calling for?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • What excites me?
  • What would I work on for free?
  • Why do I want it?
  • Though it may seem obvious, having a way to track our progress and what we have achieved along our goal-achieving journey is a crucial factor of goal setting. But this is often overlooked when targets we set are more complicated or too simple than detailed and specific.

    For example, having a vague goal like “I want to be successful” doesn’t have enough impact without context. “To be happy” is another great goal, but unless you know what you’re working towards, it can be tricky to hold onto.

    Let’s get specific about your goals with some thought-provoking questions

  • What desire is at the core of my goal?
  • How will I know when I’ve achieved it?
  • Is there anything I'm avoiding?
  • Is there resistance against being specific?
  • (Why might this be?)
  • On reflection: Do I truly want this?
  • (No? Go back to the previous step!)
  • As I discussed in my blog post How to truly enjoy the journey towards reaching your goals, the majority of our life exists in the time between significant achievements or change. Reaching a goal is a wonderful, but short-lived, experience, especially compared to the effort that goes into the journey to get there. It’s for this reason that the process - the way we move towards our goals - is arguably more important than the end result. This is where true happiness and fulfilment is created.

    Ask yourself the following questions to help define your process:

  • How do I want to feel in every day?
  • What ways of working feel good?
  • What make me feel flat or drained?
  • When do I feel like my best self?
  • When do I feel most connected?
  • What am I not willing to compromise?
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    Time-bound

    Realistic

    The motto ‘you can achieve whatever you want’ can be seductively motivating, but it can also set us up for complacency or disappointment. While goals must be deeply inspiring, they must also be achievable. One way to ground our goals in reality is to take a resource-focussed approach. This means looking at our current lifestyles, environments and networks and seeing what is possible right now or where we can gain support.

    Consider the following questions:

  • What needs to happen to reach my goals?
  • Are there any physical things I need?
  • (How can I obtain these?)
  • How much time do I currently have?
  • (How can I get more if neccessary)
  • Do I have space in my schedule for rest?
  • What are the first steps I can take?
  • The final ingredient for a 5-star goal is ensuring you have a time frame for when you want to achieve it. Having this container is an excellent way to stay motivated and focused while also pacing ourselves; it prevents us from burning out or getting stressed and frustrated about progress not happening “fast enough.”

    Answer the following questions about creating time for your goals:

  • What is a realistic but inspiring time frame?
  • Is this time period flexible?
  • Is there anything/anyone relying on me?
  • Does this leave space for fun?
  • What needs to happen before I begin?
  • While reaching desired targets will always require passion, patience and steady motivation, if your goals include these 5 elements, you will build a strong foundation where you can move towards your dreams without delay or resistance.

    Do you have a goal that you’ve run through the above checklist? Drop it in the comments box below or send me a private note here. I’d love to know what you’re working towards!