We could begin with the ‘same old same old’ question, what do you want?
Isn’t that question a nightmare to answer?
Beegeezoh, most of us can’t even think about what to have for tea most nights.
Yet, folks claim they want a better job, better car, nicer house, more loving relationships, life of no stress, happier children, better sex, more money, greater freedom, a lovely garden, house in the country…yada yada yada.
And there is a problem with the vague statements. Em, they’re too vague!
Vague – Adjective
Definition: not clear, not expressed or explicitly stated. Not known established, confirmed or determined, not enough thought or understanding
So vague goals may look something like this:
- ‘I’d like to lose a bit weight’
- ‘I fancy a new career’
- ‘I want to go back to college’
- ‘I’d like more money’
We’d never ask an estate agent, ‘Find me house please’, we probably wouldn’t arrive at Mickey D’s drive through and say, ‘I’ll have food’, or go into a libary and ask ‘May I have any book to borrow?’
So what about this getting specific.
Complete opposite to vague, it means setting goals that are exact, defined, concrete, definite, fixed, with 100% certainty.
And to do this really easily, we need to ask specific questions of ourselves…
- What do I want specifically
- Where do I want it specifically
- How will I get it specifically
- Who (if others are involved or affected) do I need specifically
- When do I want it by specifically
- Why do I want specifically
Here they are in detail:
What: this should identify the “meat” of your goal. What you want to accomplish?
Where: location, if applicable (like getting a job in your local area or moving to a new area).
How: you may have a preference as to “how” events will unfold (this may not always be within your control, but a having a general expectation is good).
Whom: if your goals involve others, you’ll want to highlight your expectations.
When: a general timeline for the fulfillment of your goals.
Why: your reasons for wanting to achieve your goals.
Move Towards Pleasure or Away From Pain
Most people have a preference to one of the above.
However in goal setting, especially for motivation, it becomes easier if you can focus on the benefits of achieving your goal, rather than the focus being on what you don’t want or giving up. (That’s important that line, because it’s in bold and underlined!)
For example, assume you wanted to lose weight. This goal is ‘technically’ simple (if we weren’t human!), you eat healthy, in proportions that aren’t excessive and exercise to reduce and maintain the weight.
Yeah, easy, however we ‘fail’ more often than succeed because we feel we are ‘giving up’ the food we love, or think we’ll miss the biscuits and treats, or how will we live without certain foods, ‘course we aren’t going to feel that pain!
Giving up is painful. Focus on the Gains.
The truth is though, we never have to give anything up.
Taking the weight example above: In proportions that aren’t excessive doesn’t mean give up, if you have 2 bags of crisps a day, can you make the goal specific to reduce it to one? Or one every other day? You’ll get to the same result but obviously you’ll have to calculate your timescales appropriately.
Another example could be ‘I want more money’, again vague and non specific.
Making it specific may read ‘I want to have £10,ooo savings by the end of the year so that (benefit) I can afford to reduce my hours at work for a year and return to college one day a week. This will give me the qualification I need to change careers in two years time. By changing careers I’ll be able to spend more time with my family and free up time to pursue a part time business’
Key Point: Make The ‘What Do I Want’ Specific and With The Benefit
Clarity is vital, another reason vague doesn’t work is because it’s non emotive, the desire and motivation is pretty weak. And remember most give up their goals because they aren’t motivated enough to achieve them.
Plus vague is wishy washy, and confusing. You may forget what you are trying to achieve and get all confused and disappointed at the time it’s taking.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want, take the time to find out.
A few ideas…
Losing weight: most people don’t want to just lose weight. For some they want to feel good in their goals, feel sexy when making love, be able to wear a bikini, show their legs in a pair of shorts. For some they may want to lose weight to run a marathon or complete a life long challenge.
Building confidence: for some they want the confidence to speak in public and not feel shame, or go out on a night out and not feel like the ‘spare’ part or wall flower. Perhaps they want to change career or tell folk what they really think.
Stay open and dig deep. Keep asking yourself ‘what would that give me’ and repeat until you get to the core of why you want to set the goal in the first place.
Think about every area of your life and ask yourself what you would change if you could.
What would you add to your life, and what would you remove?
Once you are crystal clear about what you want to accomplish, put it into a neat, concise statement:
- I want to achieve _________ [what]
- at _________ [where]
- by __________ [how]
- by __________ [timeline]
- with _________[other persons]
- because ____________ [why].
Other Post on Goal Setting