by Jill Mueller, DLCC Coaching Coordinator
I have a confession: I’m a doer. I like creating checklists and getting things accomplished. If I am planning an event, I like thinking about every single detail that needs to be taken care of. The priest at my wedding even called me out, during the ceremony, for timing out the day down to the minute.
I do the same thing when setting goals. I know I’m not the only one that has learned that a goal needs to be specific and measurable. It needs to have a deadline, benchmarks to achieve along the way, and a series of tasks to make sure we are making progress towards the goal. My goodness….the “doer” part of my brain is doing jumping jacks just thinking about it. YES! LET’S MAKE A PLAN!
But sometimes with all the focus on the doing, we can lose sight of the bigger picture.
Thinking before doing
I am currently enrolled in the Professional Life Coaching Certificate program at UW-Madison training to become a life coach. Many of the clients I work with come to me with specific goals and they are excited to dive in to get started on the doing. What do I need to do to create a budget? What do I need to do to get that promotion? What do I need to do to eat healthier? My clients are ready to DO. And I love that about them!
What I have learned, however, is there is a benefit to hitting the pause button and taking a moment to really think about that goal. Here are a few questions to ask that can help get clear about what your goal is and what your finish line will look like:
- Why is this important right now? I had a recent session with my coach where I wanted to focus on obstacles that are getting in the way of establishing an exercise routine. I was expecting to figure out how to overcome the winter blahs and cold weather so I could start working out again. But my coach asked me what is important about exercise to me. This shifted the entire conversation. For me, exercise is not about the number of workouts or how many miles I log, it’s about how I want to feel. By getting clear on why I want to exercise, I had a better idea of what I really wanted to accomplish.
- How do I want to feel as I am working on this goal? This question helps us get clear on how we want to approach a goal. Do I want to push hard or do I want it to come more easily? Do I want to put my head down and just get it done? Or do I want to let it unfold more organically? (Bonus Tip: This can also be helpful with teams. If team members have different answers to this question, it’s worth exploring all perspectives to gain additional clarity. This will make the process more smooth…and fun!)
- What do I want to say after I accomplish this goal? When I set a goal, I often picture the Facebook post that I want to write after I accomplish it. By defining this at the start, I get a better idea of what I really want at the finish. For example, I do a 50 mile walk event every year for the National MS Society. On one of the days this year where we needed to walk 20 miles, it was close to 100 degrees. There was no wind and the route had no shade. After just three miles, I was feeling miserable. I set a goal to finish, but when I thought about that Facebook post, I knew I wanted to convey pride. I didn’t want to just finish. I wanted to celebrate all of the people that were on the route with me. Thinking about what I wanted to say at the end gave me a better idea of what action I needed to take in the moment.
After these questions are answered, the ‘what do I need to do’ question becomes so much easier! Even better, the additional clarity you’ll have gives you a more effective action plan. If you want some guidance on answering these questions, then life coaching might be right for you. However, even just asking them of yourself can make all the difference in reaching your personal finish line.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes.