Over many years now, both in programs and one-on-one, we’ve been supporting clients achieve goals that matter to them. People come to us for an evidenced-based structure that will help them secure break through results and change their lives for the better. Over time, we’ve been able to refine and adjust our approaches, as well as monitor the results people get from working with us. We stay in touch and we love hearing how everything worked out!
What have we learned from all this? While every person has their own unique context, nevertheless there are also some themes that seem to be repeated. In this briefing, we’ll mention a few of these and perhaps you’ll recognise yourself in some of the examples. Then we’ll take a look at what you should expect from a well-designed goal setting program and how to assess whether something on offer will succeed in helping you move forward with your life, personally and professionally.
Some people we work with are only a few years into their chosen career. They’ve finished studying and been in the workforce for five years or so. They’ve mostly enjoyed what they’ve done but now they realise it’s time to get serious about what they want and where they’re headed. It’s time to focus on making the right choices and they want to put some shape and some discipline around their thinking.
A second group presents with quite a different set of challenges. People in this group can even be at a mid to late stage in their careers. The common denominator is that, while they aren’t planning to leave the track they’re on, they feel flat and uninspired. Is there more to life than this, they wonder? Their life as it is doesn’t excite them and they score quite poorly on our well-being measures. They want to find more meaning – and more fun!
A third group – in some ways related – are also not seeking to start a whole new life. Their lives do provide a fair bit of satisfaction. But they want to make some changes that matter a great deal to them. They might feel very busy but without the sense of getting anywhere. They often have some health, stress or personal challenges that they want to manage well, alongside their career goals.
For others again, they have a clear idea about a significant next step they want to take. They are talented and ambitious but they’re seeking the support and assurance of knowing there is someone ‘in their corner’ as they take some exciting risks.
A very common theme concerns life transitions. We’ve all been there – even if we recognise the transition more in retrospect than at the time. There is the sense of being poised at a cross roads. You’re faced with a number of choices, each with significant implications and risks. What’s the best thing to do? How can you stay close to what matters most to you, as you navigate a turbulent period and come out the other side confident and energised?
Another type of transition confronts people who are quite deliberately taking their life from one pathway to another. This might involve a complete career shift; a sea change; starting a business; writing that book you always knew was in you. These days, in this group, we would also think of people considering retirement who see this as a life shift, rather than the end of work altogether.
There are times when we can all benefit from the support of a well-tried structure that will help us think things through, while staying true to ourselves. Without adequate reflection, we can risk repeating earlier mistakes or missing our real potential. Too many people drift along in their lives and their careers because they lack the tools that might have helped them make some important decisions and achieve their cherished goals.
You’ll always be much more motivated to follow through on a goal you deeply care about, rather than one chosen to please others, to keep up appearances or status, or selected just for financial advantage. For this reason, all sound goal setting begins with you: who you are; what you believe in; what’s important to you; what gives you joy and a sense of meaning; what your talents are and where you find yourself passionately engaged. In this sense, designing your personal strategy is a bit like business planning, where an organisation considers its purpose and its principles, as a first step in deciding ‘where to next?’
Once you’ve arrived at a select handful of goals linked to the various ‘domains’ of your life – such as work, family, health and so on – then you’ll want to give yourself the very best chance of success. But we know that most people fail to achieve their goals. How can you avoid being part of this (substantial and unfortunate) group?
As well as our own twenty-five years’ experience of helping people get traction on their goals, we draw on the best research from around the world in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics. These insights help you to fine tune your plans and identify the precise steps that will take you forward. It’s about living a life in line with your values, one that you find satisfying and rewarding. Remember: no-one ever wandered around and found themselves at the top of Mt Everest just by chance!
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