Goal-setting seminars and self-help books are widely spread in the market, and everyone has been lectured on the importance of setting clear goals.
Nonetheless, most people have difficulties setting a goal and following through with it and think that the reason for this difficulty is a lack of discipline or the quantity or complexity of the work required.
The problem however is that most available courses, seminars and programs focus on a limited portion of the goal setting process. But goal setting – and goal achieving! – is a multileveled process that requires being willing and able to work at very different levels:
1. Generating Ideas
Setting a goal requires the conceptualization of an idea into a structured thought. But first, you need to generate that idea! Idea generation comes with a clear and calm mind. A clear and calm mind comes from having the discipline to maintain what I often refer to with my clients as a bouncy and clear “mental bandwidth”. This means making a commitment to yourself to declutter your life and take ownership of your time to create free flowing mental space.
2. Accessing and Conceptualizing your Ideas
As ideas are fleeting and fast, like dreams, accessing ideas also requires a clear mental bandwidth and an awareness of what is going on in your mind which you can develop through a habit of meditation. You also need a notebook to capture your ideas: like fleeting dreams, ideas will often pass by unnoticed if you don’t capture them immediately.
Once you have captured your idea, it is time to develop it into a concept, setting a defined goal that you can write, express and share with others in logical terms. This is where your goal becomes refined and tangible.
3. Creating a plan
Only when you have generated an idea and conceptualized it as a goal you can move on to prepare an action plan. Creating an action plan for your goal requires not only clear thinking, in which you are probably well trained: it also requires a clear awareness of your available options, resources and situational limitations.
4. Following up on your plan
The most important quality you need in order to follow up on your plan is self leadership. We often see leadership as the ability to lead others: leading oneself however is what comes first, and the ability to lead oneself derives mainly from self awareness. Self awareness, a thorough understanding of your values, mental patterns, strengths and weaknesses, will allow you to understand and deal with your inner conflicts, which are the biggest obstacles in reaching your goals.
Inner conflicts are the result of competing claims on your energy and attention. By knowing yourself, you learn to work with your limitations and strengths in order to make a conscious choice between those competing claims.
So whether your dream is to create a new business, implement and entrepreneurial idea, follow a creative pursuit (like writing a book) or develop a life enhancing habit (like exercising) you may have difficulties with goal setting if you only focus on parts of the process, either the idea generation or the plan.
If you look at your normal goal setting process, you will find that you may often tend to focus on the aspect of the process you are more comfortable with depending on whether you have a predominantly creative, logical or practical mind.
In order to work at all levels of this process and achieve your dreams, you might need to stretch beyond your comfort zone: develop creativity if you are mainly practical, master the art of execution and organization if you are mainly creative and continue to work on developing your self awareness. This not as daunting as it seems! It is always doable with the help of a coach or supportive business partner, family member or friend.
Author: Stefania Lucchetti, Of Counsel at BonelliErede
Milan Area, Italy