The Goal-Setting Process: The Best Checklist Answers These 10 Questions
Have you ever been in a conversation like this… “What do you want?” “Well, I’m not sure, but I know what I don’t want!” If this discussion is about dinner, then it’s not a big thing. But if it’s a conversation about life, this indecisiveness is serious. Some people actually live their whole lives without ever identifying what they want out of life because they haven’t discovered a fail-safe goal-setting process that helps them make decisions they won’t regret. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m all about mindfully developing processes and systems that make life easier.
In the example above, you see how this person has a very vague idea and notice that she’s framing it in a negative manner versus a positive one. Do you think this will help a person create the life they want? Not likely. We all need to know what we want (the well-formed outcome) and how to create the steps (well-formed goals) to get us there.
How to Form A Sure-fire Goal-Setting Process
From years of experience, I’ve discovered that successful behaviors are the results of goals achieved through the process of well-formed outcomes. What does this mean? You stop and look at a situation from all angles and think things all the way through, before setting any goals.
This is known as process thinking and forward-looking, which allows you to choose goals that integrate with and support all aspects of your life (i.e., values, relationships, finances, and health). Well-formed outcomes (the very detailed thing you want) are designed to avoid unintended consequences and resistance due to conflicted feelings, thoughts or values.
Are you seeing that we need both well-formed goals and well-formed outcomes to create the lives we want? We need one to get to the other. Both must be well thought out. They don’t deal in generalities but are very specific in nature. And, unlike the example at the beginning, they are always framed in positive terms, not negative ones.
Well-formed goals that achieve a well-formed outcome ideally meet the following conditions. Use this 10-point checklist to refine or check your goals. If they pass, you’re golden.
- Is my goal stated in the positive? What you want, not what you don’t want. Ex: “I want to have the energy and stamina to run a 10K marathon by next summer”, not, “I don’t want to be overweight”. Successful people always know what they want, where they’re going, what they’re doing, and how to do it.
- Have I described it in sensory terms? You can see, hear, or feel it. It’s tangible rather than theoretical or conceptual. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Ask yourself, “If I made a video of this outcome what would I see and hear on the video?” When you can describe it in great detail, you can picture doing it in your mind, which starts training your body to do it.
- Is this goal possible and achievable? You must believe that it’s possible even if other people tell you that you can’t do it. And it can be broken down into baby steps.
- Can I say that it’s within MY reach because I have or can get all of the required resources? This includes connections with people, the appropriate emotional state, physical strength, time, finances, intellect, education, equipment, and more.
- Have I defined it within a timeframe? A set timeline for starting a goal and completing it will keep you moving forward.
- Have I created it for a specific context? Make sure your goals are related to specific places, issues, and people. For instance, the skills needed to deal with one situation might not be appropriate for another.
- Is my goal ecologically sound— have I considered the costs and consequences for myself and others? There will be intended and unintended consequences, which must be considered. A desired outcome is ecologically sound when the consequences aren’t unduly negative. Ex: You want to start your own business, but the time and effort cause you to neglect your family. How will you deal with the conflict?
- Have I described it in great detail? What you want it for, the terms, conditions, and environmental contexts in which you want to have it.
- Have I formed this goal after considerating all the different approaches? You want to have flexibility in how you go about achieving the desired outcome.
- Is my goal dependent on me, not someone else? You can only control yourself. For example, you can’t make someone treat you with more respect, but you can change your actions and attitudes so you earn their respect.
Before you can create the life you want, your dreams must be refined. Using this goal-setting process makes them more realistic, action-focused and realizable. Would you like further coaching as you unleash your capabilities for doing more than you ever thought possible? The free, downloadable Introduction to Stepping Forward gives you a good overview of skills I’ll help you hone.
Thank you for the photo Paico Oficial