You are probably quite bad at setting goals. You probably haven’t thought the subject through and dedicated enough time and discussion to it.
I’ll pressure you to come up with some significant and meaningful goals on the count of three: 1,2, 3 GO!
Did you mumble vague clichés like ‘be happy’ ‘enjoy life and work’ ‘find love’ – all the gibber-jabber I see on Instagram posts every Monday morning?
Goal setting is hard. It takes self-reflection, and even then you need to accept that your goals will alter and morph as you move through life.
A goal is something you want.
So if you want it, why haven’t you got it? Why aren’t you getting it? What are you waiting for? I mean that as a serious question: What are you waiting for?
The question of wants isn’t enough. It needs to be attached to two more questions. Want is followed by Why, which is followed by Who.
What? – What do you want?
Why? – Why do you want it? Your honesty comes into play here. Why do you really want it?
If the why is BIG enough you won’t need to spend a long time figuring out how to get it as you will just make it happen. If your Why is huge, you will have already started this process. ‘The why’ must be big. As BIG as you can possibly make it. Thinking about why you want a goal, what that means, can grow your why and create a huge motivational boost for you.
Who? – This is the biggest and toughest question. Who do you have to become to fulfil the Why and get what you want?
If you are already this person then don’t do a thing as it is already coming. All you need is patience.
If your goal is to run a three-hour marathon and your Why, your reasons for wanting this are huge, you will have already become a version of you who trains, has a coach, is lean, and has rescheduled your life to accommodate the time involved.
‘The Who’ is the most vital question because your goal setting is conscious, yet 95% of you operates sub-consciously.
It is VITAL that you do not confuse waiting and doing nothing with patience. Waiting for motivation is like waiting for unicorns.
So, we know you are mostly your subconscious and you have to align your values, examine your drivers, your beliefs, your identity and the stories you tell yourself so that the Who is aligned with the What. If you want to run the marathon but who you are is a PS4 addict, you are not aligned and the Unicorn Universe is yours to enjoy.
You may need to make yourself unrecognisable to be the Who you aspire to be. This can be painful and upsetting as you may not like where you are right now. This is a vital step, however. You have to know who you are and where you are in order to move on.
If you can get your thinking and behaviours in alignment, then goal setting becomes far easier. Note I don’t write easy, but easier.
If you don’t make it easier, what will you do? Well, use grit, hustle and flog yourself into the floor. Not good. Working for someone else on Saturdays whilst they watch their children play cricket and you earn the money for them. Not good.
True goal achievement is a matter of alignment – not fighting self-made barriers.
The easiest goals can be scored by forming habits. Habits, perhaps even addictions, can be helpful. Addicted to heroin = bad. Addicted to excellent outcomes and self-improvement and health maintenance = not so bad.
Here’s a helpful habit. Can you do 60 hours of work on a new subject? 60 hours!? Can you read 60 hours of new material to become an expert on it? It seems daunting, but this equates to only10 minutes reading per day. Sixty hours of study achieved with a habit of 10 minutes reading per day – simple!
Imagine if you study for 30 minutes per day – that’s 180 hours of dedicated study. I didn’t do that in five years at dental school!
Additionally we should ask: How high or low should your goals be? Much literature recommends setting realistic smart goals and other platitudes and feel-good phrases. Sure, be realistic, but be on the edge of reality. Think big if you can, and remember your big goal is personal and specific to you. Other people’s goals may seem huge, unachievable or tiny. You cannot compare; in fact it’s harmful and dangerous to compare.
Let’s give some examples for the ‘What, Why Who?’
Do you want a six-pack/flat tummy? Yes
Why? Well… errr… I don’t know. I guess because it looks good.
This Why is fuelled by a perception of admiration on a two-week summer holiday where your tummy is on show by the pool. This Why is tiny. That’s why you don’t have a six-pack. Attach a bigger Why and watch what happens.
So let’s look at some types of goals. Entrepreneur goal-setters look at the pounds. Whatever income they get, they still want more; the satisfaction of a £450K net income is fleeting; they quickly want to better their best. There is real power in this as they are dynamic and driven. They don’t celebrate the goal; they just look for the next opportunity to score.
The risks are the sacrifice to your lifestyle and family time. That is a massive price to pay. Be careful.
Lifestyle entrepreneurs try to get a more even spread of priorities. Your family and particularly your children want your love and your time. Not much else. Those two things. You can’t give them that if you are prepping teeth during bedtime.
So remember: Money is an incredible servant but a horrid and ruthless master.
So a goal of ‘make more and work less’ each year may be an idea that resonates with many of you.
Money is a token of value, it is a piece of paper that represents value, and we teach you a lot about value on our restorative course. It is different to costs, fees, prices and expense. They come from a different and negative confrontational competitive place. We develop and enhance your inner value. We discuss value, we treatment plan and converse with patients in terms of self-investment and value.
So, your goals need to be bold and to serve you. If you set them and never achieve them, this is learned helplessness and you will quickly become despondent about your recurrent inability to achieve. If that rings true for you, it’s because your strategy sucked from the beginning. So get help – from me, from a friend, from someone you personally respect and trust.
Leverage your mind, align with your goal, and it becomes as easy as it can be (note again, I do NOT write it will be EASY per se, as I am a believer in hard work to achieve real results).
Your mind is you! Examine yourself and be truthful. You owe it to yourself to do this. All change starts with the truth. Try to be honest about who you really are and develop into who you need to be to achieve those goals.
Example: Do you want to be fat? NO
DO you want to be fit and slim? Yes
WHY? There are numerous possible responses and yours is specific to you: to be there for your children for longer; to avoid obesity-related cancer and metabolic syndrome; to feel self-esteem; to have more energy; to attract better-looking partners. I don’t care which, but you should, and you should list and assess the power and value of these Whys.
Who do you have to be in order to be athletic and slim? Again, this starts with who you are so far. Have you made choices so far in life that result in not being athletic and slim? You and your choices need to align with the better version of yourself. Who you are may be someone who doesn’t eat processed refined sugar and three times per week indulges a habit of 45 minutes of cardio and, twice per week, lifts weights.
So, how to leverage your mind? It starts with examining the relationship you have with yourself. This insight into your behaviours (for good or for ill so far) enables you to build confidence in your power to execute. This is part of coaching as it’s reasonably specific to individuals. So it’s worth building that external relationship with someone you respect and with whom you can talk this through.
Build up your “What Why Who” so your want is attached to a strong sense of purpose. As strong as you can make it. That sense of purpose makes the How so much easier to work out and the Want easier to achieve. The Why is the fuel for this journey; the Who is the map.
Humans are strongly biased to loss aversion. You avoid possible negatives more than you actively pursue possible positives. This is leverage you can use. Compare this possible positive outcome to the opposite – that being just carrying on and hoping, doing nothing.
Imagine if you carry on as you are: your increasing stress, your plateaued income, your five or six days flat-out working. How’s that going to end? Miserable and scary, isn’t it?
Compare that negative to the positive. You want the positive, right?
So, now we can strategise towards the positive. Hope alone isn’t enough. Hoping is waiting and doing nothing. Again, patience during a period of strategic action is productive and important. Waiting and doing nothing is awful.
I’ve mentioned talking this through with someone you trust. Having an ‘Accountability Partner’ can help a lot. That means finding someone you respect and discussing the strategy. So when you discuss the necessary steps to follow that strategy: if you don’t then act on them you feel you are letting this person down. You will act just to avoid the guilt!! Otherwise it’s like having a PT in the gym who looks let-down because you didn’t give it your all.
Now, as we have written, your goals should be big, outrageous and ambitious. They can seem overwhelming, so we need to break them down. To achieve the big goal we need to start with smaller steps towards it.
We call this a ‘Keystone habit’ – e.g. increasing your health and energy will increase your income.
You look fit, you show purpose, drive, discipline, and you feel happier. You act and move with more self-confidence, you’re improving yourself, and the whole world can see. Your positivity changes your speech, your word choices, your outlook and your energy. Everyone feels this. Your relationships change. Positive people support you; negative people start to observe you. What’s more, do you not think patients can – on some level – respect and admire those same qualities? Seriously? They value them highly. Your value just went up.
Healthier keystone habits translate into increased income.
Keystone habits allow you to level up and improve yourself year after year. They increase your power, and the benefits for those you love are massive too. Build good keystone habits, each one reinforcing the other, and every day getting stronger. It is well-known these models can offer you power, energy, better decisiveness and leadership potential.
Some of the above may resonate with you. I hope it does. If it does, then that means it’s created a mindset for you. A mindset of positivity and purpose.
The trouble with mindsets is that they can be fleeting. Watch an inspirational video on youtube and you feel that motivation, right up until the receptionist calls to tell you the patient is still in pain. The movie you watched depicting true honest love and heroism lifts your emotions. You feel inspired and happy (you may post a positive meme on your Instagram at this point), until you realise that when you wake up tomorrow it’s Sunday and that means you start thinking about Monday already.
So how do you keep the Wants and Whys and Hows fresh?
The traditional goal-setting process is often flawed. It is often portrayed by inspirational anecdote and soundbites with little basis in demonstrably effective psychology. Fortunately there is plenty of real help available.
You may pick a goal of earning an income of 100K. This then quickly becomes unsatisfactory when achieved. The next may be £175K and this goes the same way. It’s because it is a limitless goal and you can readily compare with the next category of earners. And Jeff Bezos you are not. The scoring of goals is often an anti-climax.
For me, achieving BDS felt great, until I went to work. I was sure I had cracked the nut of life and it would be peace, security and limitless prosperity from then on. So why am I fighting anxiety on a weekly basis in my mid 40s?
How many of us feel that BDS and ‘the job’ are a millstone now?
I have never been told so frequently, ‘I am thinking of leaving the profession.’ It happens weekly.
Maybe the real goal-setting methods can help you.
Humans are best when they have a global sense of purpose and align themselves to this.
This applies to everyone based on well-established psychological models, which demonstrate that the overall/global purposes are easy to both understand and deploy.
– To serve.
– To grow and expand.
To serve: If you are feeling low, go do some volunteer work. I guarantee you will feel better. 100% guaranteed. I cannot put this any more simply. You will either do it or not, it’s on you.
To grow and expand: Continuous growth leads to long-term fulfilment. Not silly financial goals. Growth in knowledge, wisdom, physical wellbeing, hormonal balance, skills, mindfulness, are all long-term limitless upgrades you can achieve every single day. Coupled with a mindset of gratitude for ‘the now’ but always striving to be a higher version of yourself.
(BTW – these upgrades will inevitably lead to an increased income whether you want them to or not. Choose that path….or work on Saturdays. Again, the choice is yours.)
So this is the big global WHY? To become a version of yourself that grows continuously to ‘upgrade’. Every decision, every moment, offers an opportunity to choose growth and upgrade or a reactive stagnation/ waiting/decay and inaction.
In my most humble of opinions and with no evidence at all to hand, Love Island is the ultimate waste of time and each episode offers you 0% upgrade; it is at best an hour closer to the grave for you, an hour you have wasted. Please turn it off and grow yourself smart.
So, we have a global WHY. The next question is WHO do you have to become to get this?
You already know. Dwell on your goals, your wants and attach the global WHY along with your own specific Want Why Who. Become the answer to Who, and you will never look back.
At Aspire we offer coaching, 1:1, goal setting, accountability partnering, and it’s all free to our subscribed delegates.
I had this conversation with a delegate last Friday:
Him: Hi Rich, listen, this course has already paid for itself; in fact, it had by day six. It’s incredible that my new cases come from recommendations of recently completed cases, and each month it’s getting better. Last month I earned xxx! The next few weeks are fully booked with these type of cases too. I just wanted to re-evaluate my global goals with you on that background.
Me: Ok how about: Each year, earn more, work less. Each new year is your best year.
Him: *smiling* I love this.