Setting and achieving your goals is a tricky process. First and foremost, you must be aware of how you think about success and how you look at what you do. Awareness is the key.
Step 1: How Do You Think about Goals?
There are two ways of thinking about what you do and most people have a preference for one of these methods:
1. Concrete Thinkers – Concrete thinkers view their behavior in terms of what they do. They use structure to show how to get something done by setting a starting point, the steps to get there and then accomplishing the goal. They think in a very structured way and are able to set and achieve certain types of goals which fit into this way of thinking.
2. Abstract Thinkers – Abstract thinkers think in terms of why they are doing something. Their way of looking at a goal is having a very certain purpose to achieving that goal. The steps might not be clear, but their motivation may be very strong if their reason for goal attainment is high.
Some goals fit better into each type of thinking. Some can fit into both ways of thinking, and for some goals, the person might need to adjust their strategy if they really want success.
Here are some examples:
- Certification which will lead to a job promotion – The concrete thinker will jump in, make a list of the requirements needed and get going accomplishing them. The abstract thinker wants to achieve the goal due to the promotion, but might need support by a mastermind or mentor to force themselves to get the detail accomplished.
- Writing a book – The concrete thinker might make an outline and struggle through the writing process, chapter by chapter. The abstract thinker will dream of what this book could mean to their life, their self- esteem, their career, and their future. This motivation could make the words just pour out of the writer and the writing process could become an enjoyable experience.
These are simplistic examples, which represent the importance of awareness in which way you think. In some situations, it may be necessary to transform the way you think to help make your goal more attainable.
Step 2: Do you think you have the skills needed to succeed?
Many people think they are born with certain skills and are either good or not very good at something. This way of thinking can sabotage your goal achievement especially if you think your aren’t smart enough. For example, you might have the “tape” running in you mind telling you that “you aren’t good in math” or “you never do things right the first time”.
Other people are life-long learners and believe they can continuously hone new skills. This way of thinking causes these people to accept new challenges with gusto and take more risk. For example, you might have never learned to be a project manager, but would love to give it a shot and worry about the details later.
Step 3: What is your motivation to Succeed?
Are you motivated by accomplishing a goal or by making yourself a better person? There are two ways of looking at this:
1. Performance goals are those in which you wish to be more capable, outperform others and show your skill. Examples could be: becoming the best salesman of the year, getting an award, getting a promotion.
2. Mastery goals are those in which you want to enhance your skills and abilities. Mastery goals are achieved by levels of progress, so their attainment is trackable over time. Enhancing skills and abilities for the sake of mastery, is a preferable way to set life long goals.
Step 4: What Do You Want From Your Goal?
Is your desired goal to achieve something positive or to prevent something negative?
1. Promotion-focused goals are about achieving something positive (i.e. – acquiring a real estate license to practice in a new state, making more money)
2. Prevention-focused goals are about safety and avoiding something negative (i.e. – quitting smoking to prevent a heart attack, getting a good appraisal so you won’t be fired)
Choosing the right strategy for the situation is the key to goal setting and attainment. Being aware of how you think, knowing your motivation, understanding your learning style, and realizing what you really want, will take you far towards success. Awareness of how you think about a situation is key to helping you success in your goal planning and goal achievement.