Goals…I love a good, shiny goal. When it’s the ‘right goal’, it boosts my spirits, gives me a renewed sense of purpose – and totally energizes me.
I talk about goals a lot; with my career coaching and leadership coaching clients and in a variety of other contexts. For instance, earlier this month, I presented an hour-long webinar on goals to over 50 staff members at UoT where, as an external facilitator, I present a variety of workshops and webinars.
Funny timing, you might say, for a talk on goals. It’s June (actually, almost July). Isn’t that a bit like ‘Christmas in July’? While the big push on goals tends to be in the new year (i.e. see this New Year’s iteration of “12 Questions to Look Back and Look Ahead”), truthfully, goals should not have a season. The whole business of setting and achieving (meaningful) goals should be a year-round affair.
It’s half time folks for the year at hand. We are finishing up month 6 and facing July square on. It’s as good a time as ever to refresh, review, and/or make new (meaningful) goals. So over to you:
Are you a good goal setter? Or ‘meh’? Do you set them but then forget them? Or maybe you are stellar at setting and pursuing goals and reaping the rewards of this crucial habit with personal growth, a sense of gratification, and more.
Here are just a few of the many ideas discussed in the Webinar earlier this month.
Goals Can Spark and Energize:
You gotta have some goals. Without them, work and life can get pretty flat. The right kind of goals can truly spark up one’s ‘mojo’. They give purpose to our days, to our work, and more meaning to our lives. When aligned with our core values and character strengths, the right goal can even create flow. Reflect on your own experience. Got a good goal? Feeling it? Or not? Read on!
Goals and Emotional Intelligence:
If you are leader take heed of this (but really, everyone should pay attention). Goal setting and self actualization go hand in hand. The pursuit of meaning and self improvement can factor into one’s potential for success and well-being. The habit of setting and pursuing goal achievement is actually measured in the EQ-I 2.0 (an emotional intelligence assessment I’m certified in and use with many of my clients). When I work with leaders (aspiring to experienced), we look at how they ‘lean into’ their own growth and development. The leader (or anyone) who builds the habit and skill of setting and pursuing goals will likely have greater potential for success as well as fulfillment (work and life). So, if goal setting isn’t yet your thing – consider making it your thing😊.
Beyond Built-in Goals:
At various points in life we have goals already built in for us. The natural flow of life might include pursuit of degrees and designations; first job and then the career path; financial goals; home ownership; relationships; and so much more. These are all meaty goals. But when we run out of the built-in goals, we need to learn to create new goals throughout the continuum of our life (work and life). I’ve met with many clients who ‘ran out of goals’ and had to learn the skill of goal crafting to keep the tank fuelled. The long road ahead is best travelled with some intention (and goals).
Goals for goals sake just won’t cut it. They must be meaningful – and there are different ways to garner (and assess for) meaning. For starters, watch out for too many ‘should’ goals. Ask yourself what will you get from pursuing and achieving this goal? Does this goal align with your career (and/or life) values, priorities, aspirations, genuine ‘wants’, and expression of strengths? And for those work-related goals – do they align with the organization’s mandates too? Kick the tire on your goals to answer that ‘why’ question and assess for alignment and meaning.
Oh, So Many Kinds of Goals:
There is such a richness to the buffet of potential goals, but people often default to generating one kind of goal: the ‘outcome’ goal. E.g. I want to get the promotion. I want to earn that designation. I want to run a marathon. And so on. Those are awesome outcome goals. But don’t overlook the beautiful array of other possibilities for goals that can add some invigorating fuel to your days. For instance, there are learning goals and fulfillment related goals. E.g. learning to be more present and enjoy life by the moment can be a worthy and life changing goal!
Sometimes a goal may have sub-goals within each category (learning, fulfilment, outcome).
Mini Case Study!
When I speak about these last two points (meaningful goals and different kinds), I often think about one leader whom I coached some years back. Let’s call him Max. He had been at the same company for many years and had progressed up the ladder to a senior role. But when Max came to see me, he felt stagnant and a bit bored. He wasn’t jazzed by an opportunity for the next rung on the ladder. He felt utterly stuck and boxed in. And he was starting to get very confused about his career. He didn’t realize that he had ‘run out of meaningful goals.
In the course of our work together, he discovered a goal that did jazz him. His spark came from a goal that touched on his core values of learning and of contribution and connecting.
The goal was related to learning how to adopt a more coaching approach to his leadership. When we hit on this possibility, he felt an immediate hit of genuine excitement. It touched on so many of his values, aspirations and character strengths. So, he was off to the races and the pursuit of the goal was what provided the fuel for the next chapter in his professional life. Indeed, within this goal there were various ‘sub goals’ and outcomes that boosted his performance and were aligned with the organization’s – he fostered a happier, more productive team as a result of his invigorated leadership and coaching and everyone won.
Size Matters. And Big isn’t Always “It”:
Sometimes people think their goals need to be big; you know – like a BHAG: Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal. Those can be fun and worthy — but don’t overlook the merit of smaller goals. In fact, TINY is the new BIG when it comes to goals. You can chunk down larger goals into smaller ones; and/or simply come up with smaller goals that feel meaningful for you. They don’t have to be tied to the ‘big one’. Learning to right-size your goal for your circumstances, preferences is important.
Meaning in the Pursuit:
It may sound cliché to say that it’s the journey that matters – but sometimes these clichés have truth. I’ll quote Zig Ziglar who put it so beautifully:
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals…. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. “(Zig Ziglar).
There’s much more that I shared about goals in my webinar – particularly, some best practices for achieving goals and staying the course. We talked about making plans, creating the right kinds of motivations, dealing with obstacles, and more. Perhaps I’ll add a part two to this post at a later date.
Check back on my blog soon for a follow-up.….and better yet: sign up for my newsletter and get these and other articles and news delivered right to you.
Invitation: Reflect, share, and engage in this conversation! And if you could use some partnering in help you think through and identify some meaningful goals in your work/life, get in touch. Likewise, would love to bring this presentation (webinar or live) to your team.
Eileen Chadnick (@Chadnick) is a certified coach specializing in career, executive and leadership development and a communications pro (20+ years of experience). Principal of Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications in Toronto, Eileen draws from the disciplines of positivity, neuroscience, emotional intelligence – and Conversational Intelligence®(C‐IQ®) in her work as a coach, consultant, trusted advisor, and facilitator. In addition to authoring the book, Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy, Eileen is also a contributing leadership and careers columnist with the Globe and Mail