One client I worked with recently had finally achieved her long-held goal of running a charitable organization. She was a very goal-oriented individual and felt she “should be happy” with what she had achieved. But when I went to visit with her for our first meeting, she was feeling defeated and depressed. Although she had met the goal she set, she was miserably unhappy because there were many other factors that she did not take into account. The role wasn’t what she had expected, and the organization wasn’t in line with her values and her aspirations. She had reached the point that she just hated getting up in the morning to go to work. But at the same time she was feeling guilty because she had achieved what she had wished for. “This IS what I wanted,” she said. But because it missed so many important components of what was valuable to her, it wasn’t really what she wanted.
Instead of classic goal setting, we need to paint a picture of what success in its entirety looks like to you:
- What is your personal desired outcome(s) over the next year or few years?
- For a business, what does success look like to your firm? What you want to describe is the entire picture of what you care about and how your life will look when you reach the desired outcome you are seeking. We want to think about the different components of who we are and what matters to us.
What is your personal desired outcome(s) over the next year or few years?
These variables will change based upon the goal we desire. But as an example, if I am thinking of making a career change I might consider:
• Why I want to leave the position I am in — what makes me unhappy here.
• The kind of industry I enjoy.
• The role I like to play within a company.
• The income I need to sustain the lifestyle I desire.
• Whether commuting is important to me.
• Whether family/life balance is important to me.
• What kind of culture I thrive within.
• When I want to make this move.
If I have identified all of these factors, a well-defined desired outcome might be: “To shift my job focus to a new (defined) industry within the next 24 months, where I achieve a role as (defined job), work in a company that is entrepreneurial and exciting to me, and make no less than I am making now. This job will be no more than a 45-minute drive from my home, to allow for work and family balance. I will leave work feeling good about what I am doing each night, and go in each day feeling excited.”
When we set goals that say only that we need to reach a particular objective, such as “I want to find a new job,” we are missing a large piece of the overall puzzle. Instead of classic goal setting, we need to paint a picture of what success looks like in its entirety. What does success look like to you as a kind of three-dimensional entity? What do you care about, what are your priorities, and what might you be willing to sacrifice in your quest to achieve a specific goal? You can’t determine this without identifying first what is most important.
Instead of classic goal setting, we need to paint a picture of what success looks like in its entirety. What does success look like to you as a kind of three-dimensional entity?
Not looking at how all of the pieces might fit together in our desired outcome can often mean that we get something in place, but then something else falls out of place. Looking at your overall desired outcome allows you to take into account all of the pieces that matter to you.