Setting goals and actually achieving them…

Recently I have been invited to the Podcast „Health up your Life“ to talk about setting goals and actually achieving them. There are really a lot of great tools and methods out there about how to set and measure goals but the actual process of achieving goals is something very individual and less considered within these methods.

Now that we are moving towards the end of the year, many of us are already talking about our new year’s resolutions. I have often set new year’s resolutions but after a few weeks I have lost track, the momentum and the magic got lost and in the end I often did not manifest the visions I had. Looking back I think for some of the goals I had, it was probably even better to not manifest them, but for some it would have been good to have the tools in place to pull through.

Therefore I wanted to share my most important insights not only in the podcast but also through a separate blog post. As some of you may know I have been working in the consulting and innovation design agency context, I really like the analogy of the design thinking process and applying it to your personal journey and experience of setting goals. So for those of you who are already working with the design thinking tools, here is a different approach to applying this analogy to your now goal setting strategy.

I hope you enjoy the read and as always please feel free to comment and reach out in case of any questions.

5 steps to setting goals and making them become real…

1 Define

The first step is to become very clear about the outcome that you would like to achieve through realizing your goal. If you don’t know what it is that you want to achieve, you could even make it your project to create a vision of what you want. Start by writing down your goals on a piece of paper, which is the first step from a thought to something more physical written on paper. What exactly will it look like when your goal is achieved and how can you measure your progress? 

Why is the definition so important? Because your subconscious mind which is responsible for 95% of your thoughts, emotions and behaviors needs to have a very clear picture of what it is that you want to help you getting it.

Write down your goal with care and be very considerate with the words you are using. Charge your goal with positive emotions and formulate it in a positive statement.

2 Empathy

The second step is about having a very empathic conversation with yourself. Now that you have defined your vision and the related goal that you would like to achieve, be kind to yourself and make sure if this is really your goal. When it comes to manifesting bigger goals it requires endurance, patience, creativity and other qualities. It will be difficult to come up with the amount of energy it takes, if the goal is not really yours and you are hesitant. Are you trying to please anybody else than yourself by achieving this goal? If the answer is yes go back to step 1, if the answer is no continue by finding at least 10 incredibly strong reasons for you to achieve your goal.

Write down all the reasons and feel the impact of the achieved goal on yourself, your personal growth, your family and friends. How does it feel? Does it feel amazing and awesome?

3 Ideate

The third step has 2 components of ideation, the first one is about yourself and your mindset and the second is about the path to achieving your goal.

So let’s start with the right mindset which is probably one of the most important aspects. Ideate and brainstorm about what kind of person you would have to be in order to achieve your goal? Does it require curiosity, kindness, openness, endurance, strength, optimism, balance, leadership. What does it take to achieve your goal? What values and principles do you want to apply and are most important?

Let me tell you a secret! What did you just write down? No matter what it is, you already are the person with the described attributes. You just need to remember that this is your true nature. 

Combine the defined characteristics with the related positive emotions and write down your success mantra starting with: „I am … and I feel … and this is why I am going to achieve … by …“

Repeat your mantra many times throughout the day in a way that it reminds you of your strengths and allows you to experience the positive emotions as if you had achieved the goal already.

The second ideation exercise is about possible ways of how to achieve your goal. You will see very quickly that there’re so many ways of achieving your goal and maybe you will achieve it in a way that you can not even imagine today. It’s a great exercise to open up your mind to as many options as possible.You will also probably come across some obstacles and can start to prepare for possible worst-case-scenarios.

Also think about what kind of resources you have at the moment. Resources include money, knowledge, friends, family, machines, software, computer etc. Don’t be shy and ask for help. It was a major learning for me that when I started talking so passionately about my ideas how many people offered me their help, and how much they enjoyed helping me.

4 Prototype

Begin to prototype your ideas, start small considering the resources you have but get started… Now! It’s really good and important to have high quality standards when it comes to your goals but perfectionism can be toxic. Don’t waste your time in your garage working on something until its perfect to find out that nobody wants or needs your product. Therefore start acting according to your goal, in line with your mind set and do it on a small scale.

List all of the activities and steps to achieve your goal. Prioritize between „must“ and „desirable“. Really focus on the musts rather than the desirables. I just recently started running a series of workshops and somehow I came to the conclusion that I wanted to have beautiful water glasses for the participants to stay hydrated. It became a priority because I did not want to use plastic cups to protect the environment. So I went to Ikea to buy glasses (and a lot of other stuff) which took about 2 hours and more money (because of the other stuff). Looking back the glasses were „desirable“ and not really a must, I could have asked everybody to bring their own glass, or take glasses that I already have at home. It was a good lesson though, so only focus on the „must“ tasks.

5 Test

Now that you have started to act and prototype your ideas collect feedback and plan regular check-ins with yourself. Ideally you can check in daily, weekly, and monthly. Think about how far you got in the process of achieving your goal, what went well and what didn’t? Was it fun? Did you enjoy it? For me it’s really important to grow and to challenge myself but in a way that I still have fun and don’t feel overwhelmed and anxious. Depending on your research data modify your process, your idea or your product.If you figure out that the goal is probably not your goal anymore, have an empathetic conversation with yourself and get off the wrong train as soon as possible. We all make mistakes and that is absolutely great, as long as you don’t close your eyes because you are too afraid to change something about it.

I really love Einsteins definition of insanity: „Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.“ So if you want a different result adjust something in your process and try it in a different way.

Last but definitely not least: celebrate yourself regularly for your learnings and your achievements. When you check-in, tap on your shoulder and really be proud of yourself and the person you have become along the journey.

Now,I wish you some very good last days in 2018 and a happy new year 2019! May all your dreams and wishes come true.