How to Attain Your Goals in 2014 (Part 3:3)

Research on the psychology of goals shows success breaks down into two distinct areas:

1. Goal setting
2. Goal attainment.

My first two posts in this series were concerned with goal setting.

Today’s post focuses on the second area – goal attainment. Or more specifically, what you need to do to increase the chance of reaching your goals.

How to reach your goals - The Leader's Digest

Research* shows failing to identify and prepare for roadblocks or hindrances decreases the likelihood of achieving our goals.

The adage ‘forewarned is forearmed’ is definitely the case here.

So, once you have laid out your goals (refer to post 2 in this series), turn your attention to the obstacles which are likely to appear.

Identify the risks and be clear about how to mitigate them.

Ask yourself:

What is likely to get in the way of me achieving this?

Identifying hurdles in goal attainment - The Leader's Digest

Have you attempted to reach this goal in the past? Examine previous attempts for clues. What tripped you up? What can you do to counter those hurdles this time?

How am I likely to get in my own way? Identifying both external and internal possibilities is important. Often our base emotions will give us clues.

In one instance, John**, a client of mine, worked out he was preventing himself from successfully delegating to his team because it meant he would have to then step up and work at a more strategic level. He identified fear was at play here and demonstrated how he was getting in his own way.

Complete this sentence, again and again – “If……. happens, then I will…..” Imagine as vividly as you can the roadblock and your response to overcoming it.

What is the likelihood of this not working?

Are you being realistic?  Are you being under confident? Overconfident?

Once you have outlined risks and risk mitigation strategies, its time to put your action plan together.  Often we skip the why and the why not stages and go straight to the action plan. This is a big mistake.

Finally, what specifically are you going to do to achieve your goal?

For example, if your goal is to lose 5kg by June 2014, specific action steps might include eliminating all sugar from your diet and going to four morning gym classes per week.

If your goal is to increase your rating on 360 degree leadership feedback with regards to managing vision, you might commit to reading a book on vision setting by May 2014 and engage the services of an executive coach once a month.  You get the drift…

Once again, get specific. “I will listen more” is too vague.

Leadership blogger Dan Rockwell nails it when he says – “resolve to spend 15 minutes a day listening.” 

A final word.

Don’t do all the work and then put your goal setting and attainment plan in the epic fail draw – i.e. out of sight, out of mind, gathering dust.

Find a way to look at, review and readjust your goal journey as often as you can.  Ideally, daily. At worst every couple of weeks.

If you have identified sufficiently motivating goals that you really want, the unintended benefit is it will serve to fire you up again, as well as reminding you of your commitment to yourself and the possible traps to avoid.


*Gollwitzer 1990.
**Names and minor details have been changed.

1 Comment

  1. sendoutcardseagle on January 3, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Hi Suzi,
    I just wanted to let you know that I’m really enjoying your blog. Thank you for your leadership!

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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