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Setting Goals You Will Love To Reach

There is a huge distinction between doing something because you love it and something out of obligation. This article discusses setting successful goals that are effortless to achieve.
Many of us set up our careers and lives around goal setting. After defining our objectives, we write the goals in terms of a measurable outcome by a specific point in time. We develop action plans, or steps needed, to reach the goal. Then we further break the steps down, filling out to-do lists or delegating tasks. The theory is that by completing the tasks and following the steps of the plan, we will arrive at the targeted date having successfully achieved the stated goal. This prescription is quite effective.

However, have you ever noticed that sometimes a goal is achieved seemingly effortlessly while at other times numerous obstacles and redirections are required to hit the target? Or, have you ever noticed that sometimes you feel really excited, perhaps even nervous about a goal you have set while at other times you just feel glad to have finished the assignment of setting the goal?

The two questions are related. In general, goals which excite us are more enjoyable to work on because they challenge us in areas that are interesting. Even if we have to work harder at them, than a less interesting goal, they will seem easy or 'effortless'. In contrast, goals that we have because they are necessary but that do not excite us will often seem harder to attain, with difficulties arising along the way. Though, by following the prescription defined above, they are often still attainable, though not personally fulfilling in the process.

What is the difference? The difference is fairly simple. Goals that excite and challenge us are ones that will teach us something we want to learn or that will allow us to further develop ourselves in an area of interest. Goals that do not thrill us are generally based on duty and obligation. They are the ones that we feel we 'must do' or we 'should do'. These goals are not really our own. They belong to someone else, real or imaginary.

'Should do' goals that are real can be offered to us by a superior, as a job requirement. It is a good idea to notice how many of our work-related goals excite us and how many do not. This could be an indication that changes are in order.

The second type of 'should' goals are imaginary. These are the things we do because we are trying to please a loved one or someone we respect. No one actually demands that we have the goal. Somewhere along the way we decided someone wanted us to go for a particular goal, so we took it on as our own. Some reports estimate that as many as 50% of professionals choose their careers based on what they think will please somebody else. People in this situation can work their entire life without truly enjoying what they do. Often this will take a toll on their health and relationships.

So, how do we avoid the 'shoulds' and 'musts' when designing our goals so that they are energizing and fun to reach? How do we have the majority of our goals be in areas of interest to us?

Step one is to get clear on what really interests us. This can be accomplished in different ways. Standard interest- inventory tests such as the 'Strong Interest Inventory' test offered at many Universities and Junior Colleges or through a career counseling program. A personal coach can take you through a much more custom-designed process of assessing what your needs and values are and then designing goals which will be in alignment with what truly matters to you.

Or you could reflect on what has meant the most to you throughout your life. That is, where you have felt the most passion and ease. Then identify what about those times made that experience possible for you. The factors you identify in this process will be clues to some of your deepest values.

Step two is to match what value is important to you with your goals.. This is also called value-based goal setting. For each thing you truly value in life a goal is designed based on that value. In working with people who have done this, I always note the passion and pride in what they are doing. Work becomes a joy. Not surprisingly, there is a high level of success when someone is working at this level of engagement with life.

Step three is to enjoy life and all its richness. When goals reflect one's values, energy increases and there tends to be an ease in everything associated with attaining the goal. It is a great place for a person to be!

About the Author
BJ Sanders,is a certified coach working with successful professionals, technology executives, scientists and engineers on business and life issues. For a free subscription to her newsletter, send a blank e-mail to:

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