Goal Setting, Goal Getting - Goals and How to Achieve Them


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The goal setting season coming round again? Impossible! But if that's true, perhaps it's a great time to review the whole area of goals. Let's have a look at five aspects of goals:

i) Types of goals,
ii) What gets in the way of their achievement,
iii) What facilitates their successful accomplishment,
iv) Planning for goal getting and
v) Saying ‘No!'


There are many and we can divide them into lots of different categories. The following list is by no means exhaustive but contains many of the most important.

a) Needs-based.

Our needs are what we must have satisfied for us to be the best we possibly can be. A common example is appreciation. For those of us with that need, unmet it might manifest itself in the sharing of our achievements at inappropriate moments or boasting. Once recognized we can ensure the need is met by those who love us. I sometimes draw a parallel between appetite and need. When hungry I must eat, but once satisfied I never give my appetite another thought until my stomach declares it's used up all the previous food.

b) Values-based.

Our values are the ethical standards, behaviors and activities which represent who we are at our core, what matters most to us and is most rewarding. If we were independently wealthy, I would expect our lives to reflect our values. . . Staying with the food analogy of the last paragraph, I draw a parallel between my favorite recipes and values. They rarely change regardless of whether my stomach if full or growling for attention.

c) Wants-based.

Some desires simply exist. You want this car, that vacation, this house, that winter coat. But be careful! Unless your needs are already met, you might find them masquerading as wants!

d) Integrity-based.

This is all about being who you are regardless of pressures to conform to a different mould. On recognizing that you have strayed from the ‘essential you’ it is these goals which will take you back to the person you truly are.

e) Imposed goals.

These are set by somebody else and are typical of an environment with an autocratic culture. Whose tune are you dancing to and how comfortable are you about that?

f) Negotiated goals.

Typical of a more enlightened environment. Recognizes your past performance, hears your input and hopefully is set exactly the right distance ahead to bring out your best.

Why is it important to recognize the type of goal we are dealing with? I believe it helps us to decide about the motivation which will work best. Best of all I suggest is, if rather than being driven forward by goals, we are drawn forward by a vision which inspires us. My vision is ‘every business sustainable, every life in balance. ’ That gives me a lot of clarity about what to do when opportunities arise or another innovative idea pops into my head. What is your vision?

It seems to me that in the same way as we need life-balance, we need goal balance too and that reaching goals in one area of our lives facilitates reaching them in another.


How about lack of clarity, shortage of time, uncertainty about communicating the necessary message, conflicting priorities and not knowing what to do as a preliminary list?

And the answer is to ask to what extent you are familiar with your needs and values, to what extent your life, in whatever area this goal has arisen, is centered around them. Where are you in terms of life balance? What are your priorities at work and at home and if you don't know, this would be a really good time to give that some thought. Even if the goal is perfectly aligned with your values, it might not be the moment to address it, your time may be better invested in a different project with a greater reward.

The answer may also involve figuring out where to go for information or to seek advice. You may simply not want to pursue this goal and this might lead to some difficulty if you are an employee.

We may be mired in a quagmire of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts, ’ thoughts about what other people may be expecting of us. If ‘other people’ includes our boss, we better make it a priority to get on the same page, and if necessary, do some negotiating. Otherwise, perhaps the time has come to stop living the life which other people expect of us and start living the life we really want.


Have you ever come across the ‘fishtank theory?’ Apparently, when fish are transferred from one aquarium to another, the increment in terms of tank-size is vital. Too large and the fish die, too small and you're buying a new one much sooner than anticipated. For you, what is the right increment in formulating your next goal in each area, or the next step towards each goal?

So when you review your current goals, where do they sit in these terms? Are they doable or are they so huge that they are their own deterrent in terms of getting started?

How are you motivated, positively by a reward of some sort or negatively by the thought of avoiding some unpalatable consequence? Do you need someone to whom to be accountable? Can you encourage your people to pick goal-buddies, folk with whom they meet regularly to discuss progress, to challenge and coach each other? Does working with a coach produce the best results for you?

I find that part of the goal achievement progress is keeping in mind the next step and ensuring that it is diarised. What works best for you in that respect? Are you definitely high-tech and inspired by using the best software available or are you low-tech, preferring a series of hard-backed note books used in parallel with a calendar? I don't believe there is a universally right answer. I do believe there's an answer which is the right one for you.


I could show you a goal book my wife Nesta and I started using over 10 years ago. It's a great system. Divided into sections, each one accommodates a different type of goal: the short term, medium and long term. Each Sunday evening we looked at the book and made the plan for the week ahead. Guess what? The goals we worked on were achieved, the others were not. Why would this be a surprise?

For some goals we didn't know where to start. It wasn't that in itself that was important it was that we did nothing about it. What are some solutions? Get in touch with our intuition. Write in a journal. Spend time in creative day-dreaming. Read widely, not just in the areas of our interest to seek cross-over ideas. Talk with others who have come through similar situations. Remember the inventors who never gave up: Edison, Bell and their contemporaries today. Unless you take action, nothing, that is - nothing! - will happened.

My plan today is to make sure that each one is a goal I am determined to pursue, one which complies with my values, is consistent with my vision and that it is important enough for me to assign the necessary time. The final part of the process is the implementation, ensuring I have a plan, breaking it down into steps of the right size for me, diarising them and making sure they happen. If they are not happening, then I need to review compliance with my values etc and decide whether I am going to meet them faster working with someone like a coach.


I'll bet there are a thousand distractions in your life and a hundred people competing for your time, throughout the day at work and at home too. If you don't learn how to distinguish between what you - you, personally!- really want and what other want of you, and act accordingly in your own best interests, none of your goals are going to be reached any time soon.

So there's your recipe! My challenge to you is to start and to start now - and you'll be working with the most interesting person!

(c)Martin Sawdon, 19th August, 2002


Martin Sawdon of Coaching-Works! has a passion for the creation of super-successful organizations - Sustainable Workplaces™. As a coach he has been described as a velvet-gloved bulldozer and as a speaker, powerful, engaging, outstanding.

To learn more about Martin and Sustainable Workplaces™, Sustainable Relationships, and the Sustainable You, visit his website =>http://www.coachingworks.ca


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