It’s easy to get caught in the trap of setting the same kind of goals, and, let’s face it, often failing to achieve those goals. Explore these alternative methods to set yourself a different kind of goal.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
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3 ways to set better goals
Hello there and welcome back, and above all, Happy New Year, if you’re listening to this live as this is going out first thing in January. So I hope you have had a lovely well deserved break. I hope you are perhaps still having some time off, and when you listen to this, you’re easing back into things and excited about the year to come. We were looking in December about… We were looking at setting goals and not thinking in black and white and enjoying the journey. So if you can cast your mind back to that, or perhaps you have just been binge listening, in which case it’s fresher in your mind than it is in mine.
But I wanted to continue on this because getting clear on your definition of success, and that can be, in fact that is of course the whole topic of this podcast, but it can be months and months of episodes in itself, which it is of course as well because I’ve done three years of the podcast. However, my point is I’m continuing on this topic now in January for a few more weeks before we dive into the next pillar, which is all around building resilience and confidence. But we’re looking at re-imagining success.
And as you listen to this, I have kicked off my daily success challenge with clients for the first time, sending daily voice notes. If you are interested in that, do let me know. You can get in touch with me on your favourite social channel, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s still time to catch up and I’m sure it’ll be running again in the future. And of course, I work one to one with clients as well. So if you are really keen to get clear, not just on those classic New Year’s resolutions that we always set and forget, but rather really coming up with a meaningful definition of success for you in your career, in your business, in your life, then get in touch and let’s talk about what that could look like in terms of working together one to one. And of course my group programmes all cover that as well.
So looking at the moment at defining success, I want to talk a little bit about setting goals.
And I don’t want to labour this point, I think we’ve all heard now, and we all know from personal experience how New Years resolutions just don’t work, right? I think the stat from Harvard Business Review, or whatever it came from, was that out of the people who do set those resolutions only 8% actually stick to them and achieve them. And there are so many reasons for that. It’s not meaningful, they’re too big and overwhelming. They’re externally imposed rather than having that intrinsic motivation and so on.
And it’s interesting because I think as I did talk about in the last few episodes, when I first trained and certified to be a coach, I was obsessed with goals and I see a lot of new coaches the same because it’s so powerful and that’s the thing that’s going to shift our focus. It’s what’s going to help us. If I’ve been on this track over here and I’m unhappy setting goals in this new direction, of course, it’s going to be what sort of triggers me and moves me and shifts and change and transforms my experience. However, it’s so, so important to set the right kind of goals. And as we talked about, enjoying the journey and so in the process.
So I wanted to talk about an alternative approach or rather a few different angles that I come at this problem, I guess we could call it a topic, at from with my clients. And there are three. So looking at your values, looking at your core desired feelings, which is something that Danielle LaPorte has talked about in her Desire Map book and different characters. So let me talk through each of these individually. But the first one, and classic goals as we know and New Years resolutions is I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to go to the gym and so on. And there are so many ways of slicing and dicing this. But again, I want to give you a bit of an alternative approach to what could be a different way of framing what’s important in your life, I guess.
And I’ve talked in the past, and let me know if you can’t find the episode, but I’ve talked about setting a theme for the year. We looked at that in our free workshop back in December. So that’s one approach. But again, I want to talk about more specific approaches now to goal setting, not related to the year as such, but rather in your life. And the first one is defining your values. And as one of the first things we do in our coach training, it was one of the first things I did with my first coach when I was leaving my job and defining what was next for me. And I came up with the three values of freedom, authenticity and, my goodness what was the third one? You see, it’s interesting how things move on. I’m not sure what the third one was now. Maybe you know because I’m sure I’ve said it many times before. But certainly they really guided me as I’d left, as I was leaving that very rigid corporate structure and regime.
Having that different direction, a guiding style is really powerful. And so, it might be something, and it certainly wasn’t something that I had considered before, at least not explicitly. Values kind of makes you think maybe about ethics and faith and religion and so, which is absolutely fine if that’s what you want to hold onto, if that’s what you want to guide you.
For me, that wasn’t what it was. It was rather your fundamental values of what’s important to who you are, the core of who you are, the choices you make, what’s really going to make you happy and you feel aligned with your choices, with what you’re doing, with how you’re behaving with how you’re living your life. And it is a foundation in which you can then build your life, your career, your business.
So a little bit like the theme, having those clear values. And usually I say around, three to five, probably about five, is broad enough to give you the flexibility and direction you want, but specific enough to be focused so that you’re not just… you’ve got a laundry list of 300 values isn’t very helpful. And so, in fact I should have said, and if you haven’t done this already, then pause at the moment or come back to the episode later, grab a pen and paper. And perhaps the first time you listen to this, just let my voice wash over you, but then come back and do the exercise another time. Because, of course, the next question is how do you uncover your values?
And so I have a few questions that I ask clients and coaches have asked me in the past. And of course, the first way to do it is just to ask yourself, “Hey, what are my core values that might come up initially, spontaneously?” And again, you can pause me now and write those down. But do also then look back and reflect on when were you at your happiest in your life. When were you the most proud of yourself? When did you feel the most fulfilled? And each of those, try to really dig deeper and understand what was it about those moments. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with? What was driving that pride, happiness, fulfilment, right? So what was it about that moment, that experience? And then, what do you absolutely love doing and you really go out of your way to do? And on the other negative side, what do you hate doing and try to avoid as much as you possibly can?
And then, I’m going through very quickly because I’m covering three different directions for you today, but looking at your answers. And again, I encourage you to take more time to do this. All these experiences, all your reflections, what patterns can you see in terms of what is important? What are the commonalities? Why are these such memorable experiences? Why are they so meaningful? Which values are shining through? And when it comes to values and you know you can Google list of values and so on.
I like to be a bit more organic and open, and just allow you to come up with what you think are values. And I wouldn’t get too caught up in semantics. Is this a value or not? And if you have a list it’s very easy just to latch onto, oh yes, adventure and oh yes, freedom because that’s what everyone else is saying and I really like that it comes from your own experience. Of course, you can refer to a list if you need inspiration, but do try to get it from your own experiences. So, that’s the first direction values.
Now the second one, and you may have heard of this, I always recommend it to clients and people in my community is your desired feelings. So Danielle LaPorte, I read her book years ago, The Desire Map, and this really resonated with me. So she talked about how we grow up in a really rational, logical education system society and we think too much. And we say, “I want to buy a big house. I want to earn this much money. I want to get married and have kids,” whatever that is, right? And her approach, and of course, she can tell you this much better if you want to really dig into it with her original words and her book.
But she really talks about having feelings. How do you want to feel rather than those, I guess, more masculine energy achievement goals. So the way I always think about it is if you want to buy a house, ask yourself, “Okay, what is it actually behind that?” Right? Is it a sense of security, belonging, safety, groundedness routing in that location at home? Or in fact is it something about feeling, I don’t know if your feeling is rather, I want to feel free and authentic and adventure and all those things, come back to your values to some extent, then perhaps having a house actually makes you feel trapped and not grounded and secure and safe. But rather, restricted and held back and so on, right?
So it’s interesting both to dig into your tangible old goals, I guess, and see what is actually the feeling behind those, but then also come at it from a totally blank slate and ask yourself what is it you want to feel.
Because a home can, in a way, give you a base and that security and so on, but again, it can also hold you back and hold you down. And in fact, make you less secure and safe because then suddenly you have lots of mortgage payments or whatever that is, right? So something that on paper can seem like the thing that you want might not be the thing that’s going to get you what you really, deeply need or want as well, right?
So do you want to feel safe and secure, grounded, rooted? Do you want to feel free and creative and adventurous? Those are two very different directions. And of course, there’s a really rich territory here as well. So again, how do you want to feel? It is hard to come up with it based on how you’re thinking and Danielle in her audio book, which I’ve read and recently reread, she asks you a load of questions in a load of different areas of your life. But just to give you some sort of thought starters, ask yourself, how do you feel when you’re at your very best, when you are 100% aligned with who you are? When you’re exactly where you want to be doing exactly what you want to be doing, what feelings make you come alive? How do you long to feel in the deepest part of your being?
And again, of course, consider the different areas of your life. I talk about the five Ls. The health and wellbeing, your relationships, belonging, connections, and so on. Career and impact, learning growth and then your fun hobbies and so on, right? So really get creative and dig into those different areas to understand I want to feel nourished, I want to feel strong, I want to feel free. I want to feel aligned or alive or electric. You know, you can also get a thesaurus to really get nuanced in how you express the feeling. And don’t just settle for the obvious. I want to be happy, fulfilled, blah, blah, blah, and maybe even free. It’s a bit generic. Really dig into the deeper feeling below that and why it’s so important to you.
And again, as you consider these different feelings, make sure they’re rooted in how you feel and that you’re empowered to go out and generate and work towards these feelings, rather than being based on how someone else makes you feel. Because if it’s, I want to feel loved, included, admired, that’s really putting your happiness and fulfilment and your goals on someone else. So maybe it’s, I want to be loving rather than loved or feel belonging rather than included or proud rather than admired. And if you are finding that your feelings that you’re desiring are really on someone else’s shoulders, try to double click and understand what’s behind that. And again, trying to arrive at five core desired feelings can really help to guide your goals and decisions.
So that’s values, feelings. And then briefly, character. So this is something I came up with and I think I worked with a coach on this many years ago as well. And what’s interesting is obviously, especially if you’re moving away from a particular job or away of running your business, or even just away from focusing narrowly on the work domain, you may be rejecting this certain labels. In particular, people ask us, “And what do you do?” And it’s easy to hang onto that social prestige, and we’ll talk about this next week, of your job title and your identity and so on.
However, probably the reason why you’re looking to change career, change direction of your business and so on, is that you have unfulfilled aspects of your personality. And this is an opportunity to embrace those different aspects and let them come to the fore, maybe in different situations with different people, but each of these characters, as it were, is an important part of who you are. And it’s not just about, well, it’s not at all about trying to be someone you’re not, right? So it’s looking at which characters are inherently in you, which characters do you emulate, want to emulate and aspire to and really think about that.
And again, in terms of how to do this, and again, pause and come back later if you want to spend some time really digging into this. But what are the different roles in your life? So you can consider personal roles, brother or sister, daughter or son, mother or father, girlfriend, boyfriend, friend, aunt, uncle, as well as your professional roles. I’m a business owner, coach, writer, designer, mentor, expert, entrepreneur, whatever those roles are, right? You can look at the people that you envy, that you aspire to, the role models that you wish you could be more like. What is it about them that appeals to you? Are they living that adventurous life that you really aspire to? And are they super free and spontaneous and alive?
And then, what are the different roles that you might want to play in the future? What do you aspire to be?
And then for each of them, you can come up with an adjective as well. So what kind of an adventurer would you want to be, right? Or what kind of a sister, friend, entrepreneur, and get as descriptive as you possibly can. Is it a loyal friend, a confident businessman, et cetera, to really bring to life those characters. And again, you can narrow them down to five core characters that are important to who you are. Perhaps who you’ve been in the past and those parts of your personality, perhaps that have been repressed, and also who you want to be in the future. So it’s a mix of today and tomorrow. And they all need to be listened to and be allowed to come out and play now and then for you to feel whole, right?
If you have this hobby and creative interest and this side of your personality that just never gets to come out and play, because you are a parent and a professional and all this other stuff that we have to do, that can really feel, and I use the phrase soul destroying quite a bit, I don’t want to overuse that. But that can really crush you over time. So in the past and I have to think back, I think when I was quitting my job in 2013, I came up with there was a free spirited hippie side to me, but there was also this inner good girl aspect.
There was the confident business woman on the one hand. There might be, and I can’t remember now what the others were, there might be a sort of girly side. Or there might be a sexy womanly side that might be a motherly, nurturing side of me now, but also the woman who wants to be sexy and attractive and all those things as an adult, and not always just as that mother or professional and so on, right? So it’s really exploring what those different characters are.
So we’ll leave it there. So to recap again, and I really would encourage you because I’ve talked through this very quickly with you, and usually this can take weeks to work through these. Either pick one of them, your values, your feelings, your characters. Or by all means, try to do each of them, maybe not all at once, but take one, brainstorm and then allow it to percolate and see how it goes in the coming weeks.
But again, it’s kind of a different way to setting up… Now it’s not saying these replace goals entirely, because they’re more principles and guiding factors and frameworks, but understanding that my values are freedom and creativity, and adventure, whatever, is really important to understanding them or family and so on, right? The business decisions I need to make or which kinds of clients I want to work with and so on.
And likewise, those different characters need to be able to come to the fore if I’m, again, restricting myself and forcing myself to behave in a certain way and that doesn’t fit. And again, the feelings, so, so powerful to really… Whether it’s a vision board you’re coming up with or look ahead, I want to feel really empowered and grounded, connected, engaged. Those things give me different actually business priorities for the year and so on, then having another set of core desired feelings as well.
So again, your core values, desired feelings and characters. I hope that was useful. I hope you do take the time to really dig into this or these exercises. And I look forward to hearing how you get on. Thanks so much for listening, I’ll see you next week.
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
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